Friday, July 10, 2009

Animals and books...

I did a panel a few months back about animals in fiction...or something like that. It was a surprisingly full room with surprisingly lively interaction between panel and attendees.

But then again, maybe it wasn't surprising. We humans as a rule are quite geeky about our animals. And animals are a very popular theme in books. It starts when we are kids...classics like Black Beauty, The Call of the Wild and Misty to more modern tales like Hoot, The Tale of Despereaux and the Geronimo Stilton series. But animals aren't just in kids' fiction. We adults love them too. Look at the success of Marley and Me. How about Lillian Jackson Braun's Cat Who series? Or even the George R.R. Martin books with his dire wolves?

Let's face it we love animals, especially animals the characters in the book love, and frequently are willing to risk a lot to save.

Why is it? On the panel I argued it was the love we feel and have felt for our own animals that attracts us to these books. We understand the emotions the characters feel, the desperation they go through when the animal is threatened. It's primal and universal. We get it.

We also frequently see animals we have loved and lost in these fictional creatures. I for one ADORE Susan Conant's malamute mystery series, because I owned and adored my own malamute. Reading her stories reminds me of him, takes me back to the time I had him. What more can I ask for?

What about you? Do you love books with animals? What are some of your favorites? Why do you think they speak to you?


Jess Granger said...

I love love love animal characters. I can't help it. So far both of my books have one. Spunky smart Vicca the fox, and Tuz the war cat. He's awesome.

I think part of the attraction of animal characters is what we feel for animals is a very pure bond. An animal never deliberately hurts you. The only way they can is by leaving you, somehow. I think that is part of the emotional hook of an animal.

Lori Devoti said...

I think you're right, Jess. It's like the love for a child, except more people have owned and loved a pet than had a it is even more universal.