I mentioned in my blog last week that in gathering ideas for another story set in Erthly, the home of Little Dog, Lost, I decided that the cat Fido would be an important character in the new story. And if he is to be an important character, then he needs both to go on being the dog-dominating cat we already know and, at the same time, to grow richer, more complex. And what better way to make a character richer than to discover a soft underside?
A quick leap. Fido will fall in love!
With whom? With a dainty calico, of course. All calicos are female as almost all orange-marmalade cats are male, so making the new cat a dainty calico seemed a perfect choice.
Having made this decision, I was intrigued on my recent visit to Oregon to meet a friend’s calico. Her name was Peggotty. There she is! I thought when I saw Peggotty and learned the source of her name. There is Fido’s sweetheart, name and all! What could be a more perfect foil for a cat named Fido than a sweet little female with a literary name? (Peggotty was the nurse in David Copperfield, in case you didn’t know. I didn’t. I had to be told.)
So meeting Peggotty took me another step forward in planning my new story. The Peggotty I am creating will be more petite than the one I met, in order to provide contrast with Fido’s physical prowess, but downsizing is easy to do on paper. No diet required.
The friend who owns Peggotty gave me another gift besides her cat, however. After reading Little Dog, Lost, she told me this story. When she was a single mother, she gave her young daughter a dog. Predictably, her daughter fell in love. She played with her dog, talked to her dog, slept with her dog. All was well in the little family until my friend fell in love, too, her love being a man who was fine in every respect except that unfortunately . . . he didn’t like dogs. Her daughter took the matter into her own hands. She told her new step-father, “My dog has been here longer than you. He has seniority.”
What a perfect idea for my story! I hadn’t intended to make Mark the center of the new story, but nothing prevents me from changing my mind while the story is forming. By the end of Little Dog, Lost a boy named Mark finally gets the dog his mother has always refused to let him have. And what if Mark’s mother were to fall in love with a man who is good in every respect except that . . . he doesn’t like dogs. What would happen if this man Mark’s mother wants to marry dislikes dogs even more than she always has? Would Mark and his dog and his whole world suddenly be in jeopardy?
I’m off and running, the story that’s growing in my mind gathering emotional power as I go.