When a stray wanders onto the page of your novel?

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One of the strange pleasures of novel writing is when a character pops up out of nowhere, fully formed ready to bounce into your story and assert his presence.  In A WEDDING IN THE OLIVE GARDEN, a stray dog is rescued who sparks controversy within the island community.

 Cruelty and neglect know no borders. It just is… How we treat the most vulnerable within our society is a test of our civilisation.

The arrival of Spartacus into my narrative was perhaps no accident. Living in the country for many years, I am aware that not all farmers treat their stock with care. To some dogs are working tools to be disposed of when old and infirm and cattle left untreated, rot in the fields. This is the harsh reality of poor stock breeding. When you complain, you are ignored.

But I am also aware of the great lengths to which many caring people and charities go to shelter, re-home, protect dogs, cats, donkeys and other animals across the world. I have visited Greece long enough to witness both sides of all of this. To be honest my story had to accommodate this cultural and delicate problem and a little of the solutions that charities tackle as they do here.

I don’t know all the history behind my own pooch’s arrival in Battersea Dog’s Home. Abandonment leaves scars and odd behaviour at times but Mr Beau is now so much part of our household, can’t imagine life without him. Like Spartacus, his was a happy ending. Others are not so lucky.