We just added a new member to our family. On Valentine’s Day we went to the pet store and picked out a black and white guinea pig. My wife has decided to call him Charlie. He’s about eight weeks old and so he is a bit nervous, but he is really cute and cuddly. Other pets in the house include a dark grey hamster with a white beard and feet named Smoky, and a bunch of fish: mostly swordtails and one huge plecostomus.
Because of this new addition I have had pets on my mind recently and I started thinking about how pets might affect an authors writing. If you look at the author biographies included in many books or if you follow any authors online there is a good chance that you will find that they have pets. And you may even find that they write about those pets in their books. Some of the writers that I can name that have pets and write stories including pets are Janet Evanovich and Jim Butcher.
It shouldn’t be surprising that many authors have pets. Pets can be wonderful companions, and writing is mostly a solitary exercise. Having a pet around can keep an author connected to life without being too distracting. They can give you love and affection without being judgemental. Even fish can help. Studies have shown that watching fish can lower your blood pressure. Since writing can certainly be stressful this is a really good thing.
Pets can also be inspiring. The love that you feel for your pet can help you express strong emotions for your characters. You can write about love by tuning into how you feel about your pet. The death of a loved pet can help you express the grief your character may feel over a death of someone they care about.
So what do you think about this subject? Do you have pets? How do they fit into your writing life? Do you include them in your stories, or are they just there for moral support?