Let’s Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Pets in Mysteries by Maggie Toussaint

Even if you’re not a current dog or cat owner, it’s hard not to melt at photos or real-life meetups with fluffy kittens and roly-poly puppies. They have such zest and need to play and then an equally urgent need to sleep. One of my granddogs, as a pup, would stop in mid-step and take a nap wherever she was. She just couldn’t go one more step.

Readers usually hold pet lovers in high regard. They also love to read about the bond between a character and his/her pet.

Writers enjoy engaging readers on as many levels as they can. Cozy mystery writers have found having a dog or cat in a mystery is another way to excite a reader about a story. I enjoy reading and writing stories that have pets in them. My Dreamwalker sleuth, Baxley Powell has a menagerie of pets she takes care of: a Labrador retriever, a chihuahua, a terrier, a Manx cat, a tabby cat, and a ghost dog. Lindsey of the Lindsey & Ike Mysteries has a black lab. Cleopatra Jones has a St. Bernard. I’m writing a new series now, and my sleuth River Holloway has a black cat.

Do you have a pet? If so, share something about your pet. For fun, feel free to caption these cat photos taken by my friend Kit of her Bobo.

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Comments

  1. Chiming in late to say, Maggie, I love your kitty pics! And, of course I love pets in mysteries…and in any other books. We have four kitties (all rescues) and two Italian Greyhounds. I try to sneak my own pets into my books. So far, Brandon and Ophelia (the black cats) have had their own book cover, as has Ranger, one of my Iggies (he was on the cover of my 2nd Leonardo da Vinci mystery, and we bought the original oil painting). Pets are family!

  2. Rhonda Husted Lee says:

    Love the use of pets in the story. Most of the cozies that I read include pets. They make the story

  3. I like the ghost dog in your Dreamwalker series. We don’t have any pets now, which suits our lifestyle so we can pick up and go whenever we want. In my Bad Hair Day mysteries, Marla and Dalton have a golden retriever and a miniature poodle.

    • Hi Nancy! Thanks for being one of Oliver’s (the ghost dog) fans. As you may recall, Baxley rescued him from an allegedly haunted house and he became devoted to her. Their partnership continues throughout the series, with something special as a final note in book 7, still to come, along with book 6 next summer. I love that Marla and Dalton are building their family now, including their pet family.

  4. I include dogs in both of my series and they’re loosely based on real dogs. I enjoy them as characters because they help add a little humor to the story. I had to laugh the other day when I discovered my hundred pound Lab is afraid of snails. True. He wouldn’t “come” until I moved the snail out of his way.

    • That’s funny about the snail. Who wouldn’t be afraid of something slimy? We had a horse once that was afraid of the white lines on pavement. That became a real challenge! So glad you stopped by, Marja!

  5. Yes, yes, yes! I love pets—real ones and in books. My sleuth Carrie Singleton in the Haunted Library series has a cat named Smoky Joe. He is the Clover Ridge Library cat and goes to work with Carrie every day.

  6. I have written pets into a couple of my books. My “blonde assistant” kitty at home approves.

  7. I love animals and have always had a cat. I do volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and used to foster cats. Pets don’t play a huge role in any of my books so far, but my characters have them. I’m working on a new story about a protagonist who chooses to serve her DUI-enforced community service helping with a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return program for community cats… and of course, stumbles over a body.

    • Hi Sharon, Once you cross that line of putting pets in your book, its hard to go back. For me, it’s one more way of remembering pet antics of favorite (and not so favorite, LOL) animals. Your new protagonist sounds very interesting. Her volunteer service sounds life-changing! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I don’t have a series dog, but I have a lot of dogs in my series. A reviewer said her favorite character in When Danger Calls was the dog, Wolf. As Cheryl pointed out, character-pet interactions can show readers what kind of a person that character is.
    At home, we have a rescue dog, Feebie (short for FBI Special Agent in Charge), and she’s definitely in charge.

    • Exactly! I love showing pet and character interactions. I’m glad you shortened Feebie’s name for everyday use! We always practiced our pet names by calling them out from the back stoop. Not saying this one way or the other, but we may have tried out kids names in a similar manner…

  9. tinawhittle says:

    I miss my buddy dog, Cloud — he’s with my daughter now and I am petless (for a little while anyway). But I do not miss the chicken. And the chicken does not miss me, not even a little bit.

    • Hi Tina, I’m sure Cloud misses you, but he’s having the time of his life with all the younglings. As for the chicken, well, there’s a reason they are given few starring roles… Sending you good dog vibes.

  10. cherylhollon says:

    I love writing about pets in my series. They add a dimension of realism to the setting since almost everyone has a pet. Interaction with a pet can reveal character with a simple gesture. My Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series has two dogs and a little white kitten. Furbaby heaven!

    • Furbaby heaven indeed. There’s a reason our furry friends are often service animals and therapy animals. They look out for us and make us more of who we are. As a reader and a writer, I enjoy pets in books. My newest series (still on the drafting table) has a black cat who accepts human interaction much like a crotchety old codger. Though everyone thinks Major is feral, he’s just cautious about who his people are…