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 Kalahari.net -- 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: