How I made a House for All Seasons a home

Please welcome today’s special guest, Jenn J McLeod, debut author of House for all Seasons! I’m delighted to have Jenn visit today as she’s been a writing buddy on this journey for quite a few years now. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of her wonderful novel (thanks, Jenn 🙂 ) and it’s a beautiful rich read with characters who will stay with you long after the covers are closed. Check out the bottom of the post for details of a giveaway!

So without further ado here’s her hilarious post on some of the critters in House for all Seasons – Jenn, take it away!

How I made House for all Seasons a home – Part one.

Just as a house is not a home without an animal or two (or three), a novel is not a story without a feathered or furry faithful friend. Animals not only feature in House for all Seasons, they star – well, I think so. (Helene knows how much I love dogs. I even have a special B&B for people who travel with their pets.)

Creating fabulous furry support characters demands the same sort of thought, energy and love as my people. But while my human characters are fictional, my animals are often inspired by real-life versions (which is fine because they can’t read, therefore they can’t sue me or not talk to me when I get them wrong!)

Let me introduce you to the cast of canine characters from House for all Seasons.

Karma – the dog, not the philosophy: spoilt a little, loved a lot, the brown-spotted, shorthaired slobber-guts stole Cait’s heart the minute the dog smiled at her from behind the razor wire at the dog shelter. (Okay, so not quite razor wire, but it might as well have been.)

Karma is a blend of the best: a dash of dalmatian, a bit of border collie, a lot of sass.

Find him: in Part 4: Wynter’s Way

Owned by: Dr Caitlin Wynter

Inspiration: Meet the sassy real-life – ‘Karma’ (thanks Shayne Sands) playing hide ‘n’ seek, then resting after a big day. I blended Karma with a little ‘Bob the smiling dog’ (thank you Annie Seaton) to make Cait’s very lovable ‘Karma’.

Shrapnel: the pain in the arse that won’t go away.

Find him: generally stuck right by his owner’s leg in Part 2: Tall Poppy

Owned by: curious old caretaker and Vietnam Vet, Eli.

Inspiration: Just love that name and the line! But also, far from a pain in the arse, my inspiration came from the first family pet I remember – Pepe. What a great dog and in good company up there in ‘Afterland’.

Blue: a cattle dog, of course!

Find him: making mischief with Karma in Part 4: Wynter’s Way

Owned by: the equally mischievous Alex, town vet

Inspiration: He’s a randy thing (the dog, not the vet), although he is a lot of fun (the vet, not the dog), if not a little too fond of the girls (the dog not the vet).

(Excerpt – with Caitlin none too happy about Karma fraternising with Alex’s dog, and the excessive tail wagging and bum sniffing Karma seems to be enjoying!:)

‘Hey, Blue, I’ve told you before to watch out for city girls, or you’ll have yourself a sweetheart quicker than a fly in a beer.’

Caitlin shuddered, never so delighted she’d had her dog de-sexed.

As for the vet…?

Ah ha! Read the book and find out. You might just be surprised!

(Oh, and in real life, Rexy the blue heeler (pictured) belongs to Belinda Parker – thanks Belinda.)

Rocky: the Axolotl – okay, so not a dog – exactly, but bear with me.

Find him: in Part 2 – Tall Poppy

Owned by: Poppy Hamilton – tough, ambitious journo.

Inspiration: I needed a pet that would be the perfect match with Poppy.

(This excerpt might explain):

Poppy would have liked a loyal companion, one who loved her unconditionally, never asked too much and never argued back. Two years ago, she’d settled for a more practical pet, one the little girl in the terrace next door to hers could look after whenever Poppy travelled. Not this trip, though. For the first time in his soggy little life, Rocky the axolotl sloshed around on the passenger seat.

Destination—Calingarry Crossing.

Poppy liked that Rocky was different.

A fish with legs.

An underwater lizard.

A rare and special survivor of another place and another time. Kind of how she’d felt growing up in Calingarry Crossing. She felt the same going back today.

Jackpot: The rascally Jack Russell

Find him: in the pub! err… I mean in Part 4: Wynter’s Way

Owned by: Maggie – the publican

Inspiration: This Jack Russell is so darn cute (not to mention quirky) he made it into book two as well! Just wait till you read how he amuses the pub’s patrons. (And look at this picture. He’s about to blow on the dandelion wish. Told you he was cute – and clever.)

And the final dog…

The Hot Dog and the Dagwood Dog

Part 3: Amber Leaves

Inspiration: Okay, so they’re not dogs in the true sense, but if nothing else, my stories are authentic and well researched. (There is a Calingarry Crossing Easter Fair and an eat-everything-on-a-stick challenge so…)

But wait, there’s more…

Don’t miss Jenn’sHow I made my House for all Seasons a home – Part Two’, featuring the country critters. Find it at Fiona Palmer’s great blog on 11th April. Wait until you meet that motley mob of irresistible misfits from House for all Seasons!

And because I’ve loved reading this book so much we’re going to give a copy away to one lucky commentor.

All you have to do is share your favourite animal character from a book to go into the draw! I can think of a dozen furry characters who’ve starred in novels 🙂 Competition closes on 1st March and we’ll announce the winner here and on Jenn’s blog!

Come home to the country with Jenn:

Facebook Author page: /JennJMcLeod.Books


43 thoughts on “How I made a House for All Seasons a home

  1. Can I be really cheeky and say Blue the cattle dog from A House For All Seasons?
    Reason being…..Jenn has captured him to a T. He is desexed but that doesnt stop him trying to hump the girls…..cheeky little thing 🙂

  2. And the winner of House for All Seasons is Kathy M!!!

    Please contact me with your email address via the contact form, Kathy, so I can send you your prize!

  3. My lab learnt to escape from the backyard when he was a puppy – he jumped onto the BBQ and then over the fence; I should mention here I live next door to a school- but he was always waiting for us at the front door to let him. Took us weeks to work out how he was escaping, but was fun trying to catch him! But he looked so cute when they are cheeky, it was hard to be angry with him.

  4. Jess, the owls were very cute in Harry Potter. Made me wish I’d been born a witch!

    I’ve seen that fabulous book ‘Underwater Dogs’ – it’s brilliant. They look so ungainly shot from below!

  5. Brenda, that sounds like a wonderful story! We had a dog who lived next door called ‘Lucky’ and he really did live up to his name. Zeus is finally starting to see his latest change as an adventure – you can teach an old dog new tricks!!

  6. Aww someone already beat me to it, but I absoutely love the Marley from Marley and Me as well. Marley was the first animal I thought of when reading this post – he reminds me of my very own cheeky lab.

    I also liked the inclusion of Hegwig in Harry Potter. Who doesn’t want an owl as a pet when your twelve years old 🙂

    Since a lot of people are mentioning dogs, have you all checked out the coffee table book, “Underwater Dogs” it’s full of pictures of various breeds of dogs in and out of the water and its simply adorable. Bound to put a smile on your face.

  7. Ooh wow, I am madly scribbling down the names of books i will never get to read unless I can pause the world while I play catch up. I so wish i could remember books from my early years. Why can’t I? Maybe I didn’t read any with dogs in them. That might be it. I remmeber a cat in a hat but don;t say ‘cat’ too loud around Zeus perhaps! 😉

  8. I absolutely loved “Lucky” from ‘Lucky for Me’, then ‘Lucky goes to Sea’, both by Frank Robson. Wonderful true tales of a mischievous, cat-hating, tree-climbing, adventurous dog with his human family! Helene, you would associate with them both, with your new venture and Zeus!!!

  9. Gabi, another wonderful story! Cried and cried through Marley and Me… You’ll love Jenn’s debut release and like me will be hanging out for the Simmering Season next year!!

  10. Marley, from Marley and Me. I read this with my twelve year old daughter and we howled – it was such a great story about how these gorgeous creatures get their claws into our hearts and they don’t let go. I am soooo looking forward to A House For All Seasons.

  11. How could I forget Red Dog, Kathy! Loved the movie and the champion little actor… A sad day when he went to the long paddock in the sky…

    And the alcoholic bulldog sounds like a classic. I haven’t read that book – another for the pile!

  12. Oh Kathy M, my heart had a sad flutter at the thought of Red Dog but he is in good company in puppy heaven. Loretta, my canine characters do get a little action – well, one tries a lot!!!!!

  13. Oh, and then there’s “Fireball Roberts” from James Crumley’s ‘Last good kiss.’ He sounds like one helluva character.

    “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

  14. Hi Loretta, I don’t think I’ve read that particular Georgette Heyer but a dog of poor breeding and a hero with a soft heart sound like wonderful characters!

  15. There is a dog of “very poor breeding” in Georgette Heyer’s “Arabella,” who is adopted by the hero. He was definitely a character, I loved. Looking forward to reading your animal characters in action, Jenn.

  16. Noelle, Geraldina the Goat sounds fabulous! Does she eat lots of things she shouldn’t and chase the postman?? Quirky animals add another layer to a story.

  17. Hi Helene and Jenn.
    I really enjoyed reading this article. I have just finished writing my third book, and – without meaning to – one of my supporting cast members turned out to be a cantankerous but lovable old goat called Geraldina.
    Geraldina and my heroine are both in love with my hero, so it’s a weird, but wholesome, love triangle.
    Thanks for a refreshing article and I’m so glad it’s OK to have our animal friends starring in our stories. Cheers, Noelle.

  18. I love a book with animals Jenn. My favourite of all time was Greyfriars Bobbie. I bawled my eyes out but that didn’t take away from the heartwarming read. Can’t wait to get my hands on your book.

  19. LOL See Sopt Run, Alissa? hehe I was always a bit sus about Dick and Jane LOL. Suz, National Velevet is my all-time fave movie. I used to pretend my bed-end was a horse. I’d saddle it with a pillow and use my dressing gown tie as reins.

  20. I remember one book from when i was a kid that really stuck in my head (and heart) the book was A Dog called Buttons (i still have it) about a little dog who was trained to help a family who the mum and (i think) the boy were deaf, and then he gets left behind when they go away but finally gets back home – it was really sweet and personal because my mum & sister are both partially deaf (totally without their hearing aids) and my sister’s nickname was Buttons (long story!)

  21. What a wonderful post…thanks Helene and Jenn! I’m looking forward to reading your new book too Jenn..congratulations on it’s release 🙂

  22. Thx for dropping by Christine, Sandy and Nicole, less than 10 days to go now (but who’s counting?!) and Sandy I so want people to love this book. (Love those words!)

    Nicole, I have a very special scene with a horse in Part four – Wynter’s Way. I can’t wait to hear what you thihnk of it. Pls do let me know.

  23. Thanks for this post Jenn. I think the most memorable animal character from any book would have to be black beauty. I only recently re-read this novel and the insight it gave me into the characters of horses was wonderful. Having just bought my first horse it was a real eye opener for me and cemented what I already knew, that horses are the most loyal creatures on earth when treated with respect.

  24. What a great post, Jenn! I can think of several people who will love this book (me included).

    Favourite animal character in a book? Ruth the dragon from Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Pern’ series. Or non-sentient animal (arguably), Bastet the cat from Elizabeth Peters’ ‘Amelia Peabody’ series.

    Thank you for hosting Jenn, Helene. 🙂

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