This is a blog inspired by the acquisition of a new puppy (Simon, a Dobermann, born 15/11/2010). However, since even I don't really believe the emotional life of a puppy can sustain a blog indefinitely, I'm combining such reflections as Simon's progress gives rise to with my other indulgence, books. So this will be about books and dogs, in particular books about dogs, and dogs in books. There'll also be plenty of photos of Simon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Liquorice and Lost Ground

Here is Liquorice:

And here is Lost Ground:

Liquorice is the aptly-named shiny black Labrador belonging to my neighbours. During my Year Without a Dog, I got into the habit of taking Liquorice for walks, a habit that, now that Simon has arrived, I am still observing. Liquorice is, like most Labradors, angelically mild and infallibly gentle. So that when I came to write my latest novel, Lost Ground (published last week by Jonathan Ball, now available at all good bookstores, or, failing that, at -- and that was the commercial break), and needed a sympathetic, supportive canine presence, Liquorice came to mind, and I borrowed him for my novel. He is the only character in a novel of mine whose name I did not change to forestall a libel suit -- or no, there was Dumbo, in my first novel, about whom more in a later blog. Liquourice, it must be said, is not a plot mover; he is there, as I said, purely to provide sympathy and support. There are, however, two other dogs in the novel, and they do actually have a part to play in the plot. There is Cedric, the Maltese, who is The Dog That Did Not Bark in the Night; and then there is Kerneels, an amiable mongrel, whose role in the plot I can't divulge without spoiling the story. Oh, yes, and at one point there is a cameo appearance of 'an elderly gentleman with a doddery Dobermann.' That was my Hitchcock moment, written while my lamented Nicholas was still alive, though, yes, doddery.
It has occurred to me that, not surprisingly, all my novels feature at least one dog somewhere, some of them quite prominently. Future blogs will be dedicated to these sharers or my fictional space. Simon will be taking a back seat, I suppose, though I will usually manage to smuggle in a photo or two. Here, for instance, is Simon with Liquorice:
The little girls in the background, by the way, are about to have their tentacled balloon snatched. (See the previous blog.)


  1. Is it my imagination or do all your dogs have people's names.....?

  2. ....and Kalahari is so slow in delivering to Asia.

  3. Well, yes, unless all my people have dogs' names. Okay, Simon shares a name with the main character in my first novel, The Children's Day. But Nicholas, in my second novel, The Reluctant Passenger, was named after my then dog. My third male dog was Eric, and there's an Eric in my next novel. Oddly, I've never named female characters after my female Dobermanns, Alice and Lucy. Oh, and my first dog of all, Henry, was named after Henry James.
    As for Kalahari and Asia, did you know that they do have e-books?

  4. Just finished this book and LOVED every word. Literally. OK, maybe loved the country vet more than most!
    Thank you, it is going to be a great gift for many friends, who like me, live in our version of Alfredville and who are, like me, sharing their lives with fursouls!

  5. Thanks, Johann. I'm pleased to hear that the book is actually reaching Alfredville -- book distribution being what it is, I was not very hopeful. Pleased you liked the country vet -- I guess he's the one with the least baggage ... mind you, I've just realised, he does have baggage, doesn't he?

  6. Oh yes! delivers to our doorsteps!
    Who doesn't have baggage? At least he takes Liquorice for regular walks . .
    By the way, if you ever feel like doing more research into dorps like mine, it would be a treat to meet you. Simon would love my clan.
    I have a cottage on the side of the house that would be all yours. See