Fiona Harrison discusses how you need to listen to your characters – even when it’s a dog!
For years I tried thinking up plots and ideas, in a desperate attempt to create THE novel, you know, the one everyone can’t stop talking about. I had many false starts, but felt that when I came up with the right idea, I would know. So when the right idea did come to me, I was amazed to find it was from the perspective of a pug!
The pug in question is Percy, abandoned at a rescue centre and adopted by his new family shortly before Christmas. Of course, Percy isn’t just any dog, he’s an incredibly loving pug, and when he discovers his new family need help, there’s nothing he wants more than to rescue them.
When I came up with A Pug like Percy, it was important Percy was authentic. He needed to sound and act like a dog rather than a human, and like most things the devil was in the detail. I had to consider how Percy would feel about the possibility of being returned to a rescue centre, or the Tails of the Forgotten as he and his friends call it, along with the worries of wanting to help a family in so much trouble.
Making sure Percy was real felt like a huge challenge so I kept putting off the writing, as I was terrified of messing it up. What if I couldn’t hear Percy in the same way I heard human characters? What if I didn’t understand who he was and he wasn’t believable? However, when I finally found the courage to start, I realised Percy had been there all the time, just waiting to talk to me. Percy very quickly, became as real to me as any human and I found it easy to convey the love he feels for his family, the bond he shares with his doggy pals and the powerlessness he experiences when Jenny, the family’s young daughter collapses before him.
Thinking from a dog’s perspective became second nature and expressions such as, lend a hand, which became lend a paw, tripped off my tongue as naturally as the conversations between Percy and his friends.
Now A Pug like Percy is on the verge of hitting bookshops so we no longer speak every day. Amazingly I miss him, yet, like any good character, I know that when we chat again, our conversations will be nothing short of pawesome!
Percy is homeless, abandoned by his owner at an animal rescue centre on a cold winter’s night. So when he finds a loving new home with Gail and her family, his deepest wish is that this time, it’s forever.
Gail hopes that Percy will be the little miracle that her family so desperately needs. Her young daughter, Jenny, is in and out of hospital and she’s only just holding things together with her husband, Simon.
With the family at breaking point, and Christmas just around the corner, is Percy the furry friend they’ve all been waiting for?
Fiona Harrison is a dog lover and writer from the West Country with fifteen years experience as a national journalist, frequently writing for all the women’s magazines and has also taken on ghost-writing projects. Now married to a fellow animal lover, Fiona lives in Berkshire and is focusing on her two passions; animals and writing.