Animal characters add depth and interest to a story, and I love including them in my writing. In my time travel adventure “The Time Crystals”, which I hope to publish this year, Jess the greyhound is an important character in her own right. She is Clara’s best friend, and an integral part of the family. Clara can confide in Jess in a way she can’t, as yet, relate to people, and Jess is included in the action.
The wind howled through the trees. Normally that would soothe Clara, but tonight it sounded like people groaning. Even Jess seemed uneasy—Clara could hear her padding about in the lounge, giving an occasional half-bark.
In creating Jess’s character, not surprisingly I drew on my experience of my own dog, Jinty, who is also a rescued greyhound. Jess and Jinty are both amazing runners; they share sleek dark looks and a common heritage:
Rob began to whistle, stroking Jess’s velvety ears. “Clara! Jess has got writing in her ear.”
“Yeah, it’s her identification tattoo. She came with a number, one in each ear. It means she comes from Ireland.”
“Poor Jess. That must have hurt.”
Jess’s personality, however, is quite different from Jinty’s. Possibly due to an accident or mistreatment in her past, real-life Jinty is a very nervy hound, nowhere near as confident and outgoing as her fictional counterpart.
They do share two things in common, though, and they’re traits for which greyhounds are famous. Firstly, their surprising laziness!
They followed Clara down a hillside carpeted with lime-green moss. Clara grinned as Rob chased after Jess the greyhound.
“He won’t catch her,” she told the others.
“Isn’t she fast!” marvelled Hayley. “You’d think those matchstick legs of hers would snap.”
“Jess is a retired racer,” said Clara, “but you’d never know it. She’s the laziest dog ever.”
Secondly, a feature surely common to all dogkind: a love of treats.
That evening, Clara’s friends arrived to find her propped up in bed reading a book and drinking sweet tea. Most of the bed was taken up by Jess, who lay sprawled on her back, paws in the air.
Rob, Mick and Hayley piled round the bed, barely fitting into the tiny room. Hayley had brought some shortbread biscuits, and Rob handed Clara a jelly bear. Jess’s bootlace tail flapped in a frenzy as she wriggled the right way up, hoping for a treat or three.
Apart from Jess, The Time Crystals also features two rather more unusual companion animals: Felix and Fido, who are Zeno’s pet cockroaches!