Saturday, May 21, 2016
Ravines, Black Dogs and Inspiration by Mary Coley
Who knows where story ideas come from? Most writers, including me, get their inspiration from many places: songs, pictures, news stories–and personal experience. Ideas for my upcoming mystery THE RAVINE (release date: May 27) came from all of the above, but most heavily from personal experience.
The setting of The Ravine is based on the neighborhood where I live, and the dog–Monique, "Moe" for short–is a combination of canine companions I’ve had. As for the story lines, I drew from personal experiences and research as I created the various tensions in the lives of my characters and their families.
But the most important character in the book is the black dog, Monique. Why a dog? And why a black one?
Friends familiar with the world of pets and animal shelters tell me how hard it is to find adoptive families for black dogs, especially in the larger breeds. Maybe their black fur makes them look bigger, or menacing. Genetically, black in the dominant gene for hair color, so if there is black anywhere in the gene pool of a puppy, the dog has a high likelihood of being black. Next time you visit a shelter, or a pet store, check out all the furry black animals!
Here’s MY story about a black dog who raced into my life, kind of like Monique does in The Hill neighborhood in my story.
The animal ran up to me one day when I was walking my other two dogs on the streets. Playful and happy, the black lab mix followed us home and never left. We didn't feed him initially, but the neighbors did. So he stayed. For a time, he belonged to all of us. But it was our other black dog, a German Shepherd/Black lab cross, that he loved.
We named him Oscar when it became obvious he wasn't going back to wherever he came from. It was also soon obvious he could not be 'contained.' He was a fence climber and spent his days racing around the neighborhood chasing and barking at cars, or playing with any dog or boy who happened to be available.
We had him neutered and vaccinated. We bought him a collar. We even fortified our dog yard with branches around the top of the chain link in a useless attempt to keep him from getting out.
Sadly, Oscar's time with us ended after a vicious fight with another neighborhood dog. With my own grandchild soon to be born, I had to consider, what if instead of another dog, it had been a child who suffered injuries?
I did what had to be done with a heavy heart.
'Monique,' the black dog in The Ravine, has Oscar's intelligence, playfulness and spirit without the aggression and wildness he so often displayed. She is the kind of animal I wish Oscar would have been. Like Katy Werling in my story, I love Monique!
Watch for more books in The Black Dog Series. It's possible that Monique -- or even the real Oscar -- might race into the story.
(Be sure to read Mary Coley's other blog posts about the Setting and the three families of characters from The Ravine, Book One of the Black Dog Series, coming in the next two weeks.)
Pre-order from Amazon