Dead or Alive?

This beautiful image of a lion in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana was taken by Yathin Krishnappa. Although the lion is yawning and at rest, it’s a stunning visual reminder of the killing power of this magnificent beast. There are times when authors are driven to take peoples’ lives. I’m talking about their fictional characters, of course (well in my case anyway). When I began to write Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers, I was aware that two of my characters were going to have to die before the story was resumed from my previous novel, Shipwrecks Happen.

I found it surprisingly difficult to do. I had lived with those characters for a few years when I was writing Shipwrecks Happen. I’d grown fond of them, and invested  a considerable amount of time in creating them. One of the characters even contained some biographical details from my grandmother’s life. Hopefully that struggle was a good thing – with any luck my readers will also feel they have come to know and love these particular characters. Although, I have to confess, worryingly, there was a very small part of me who, for a brief moment, enjoyed having the power of life and death. Maybe I need to revisit that feeling at some point and check myself out.

There was one character, however, who was given a reprieve from an early grave. I had intended to kill off Oscar, the dog who now appears in both books. He’s a central figure in Shipwrecks Happen and was a total product of my imagination. Life is a funny thing though, and after I’d finished writing Shipwrecks Happen, I became the owner of a little black dog just like Oscar. So when I tried to write him out of the next novel, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Do you know, I think it’s a shame, because I had great plans for Oscar’s successor – the new dog was going to rescue one of the characters in Sunny Spells and provide vital services in the daily round up of ponies at the trekking farm.

Perhaps the novel is a bit the poorer for the fact this particular storyline never happened. But I feel a whole lot happier to see Oscar live on.


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