In rural stories, animals are so much more than just stage dressing. They can be a catalyst for conflict, provide a moment of light relief, or even spark a romance. They sometimes totally steal the scene and the reader’s heart. What secrets could they tell us, if only they could talk?
We can’t tell you what special magic we used, but the animals of Escape’s rural authors Alissa Callen, Jennie Jones, and Maggie Gilbert are here to give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth. And a pig and a pup have their say too!
Up first is the biggest
(but not the loudest, although he thinks he is)
Jinx, a feisty Thoroughbred and the four-legged star of Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert, spills about the heroine, Melissa, and her childhood crush, William.
Q: How did you become Melissa’s horse?
Jinx: I didn’t like doing polocrosse, all those sticks waving around near my head and bashing into my legs, so Melissa’s stepbrother let Melissa try riding me. And we just clicked, you know?
Q: Tell us a bit about Melissa.
Jinx: Melissa is such a sweetie. She never yanks on the reins or bangs the bit in my mouth. She always has really good hay. And I get to go fast!
Q: Is it hard to be so good at Dressage?
Jinx: I like to go fast! And jump! But I am good at Dressage, too. Which is just as well, because Melissa is good at dressage. She isn’t good at jumping. Or going fast.
Q: What do you think of William?
Jinx: Melissa talks about him all the time, like when she’s giving me my hay or putting my rugs on. And also William and Melissa muzzle each other a lot, even when they don’t need to breathe in each other’s nostrils for a proper greeting. Sometimes, they muzzle when she should be giving me my hay.
Q: Do you think William is hero material?
Jinx: Melissa sure does. William is OK, he gives me hay. But he isn’t actually the hero in this story, you know. I am. Everybody knows that.
Next is the cutest
(and quietest and cuddliest but wait till she grows up – boy, will she be herding Jinx into his stall if he gets too big for his horseshoes)
Meet Callie from Alissa Callen’s What Love Sounds Like
Breed: Red-heeler cattle dog puppy.
Favourite food: sprinkle cupcakes, fruit loops and scones.
Favourite toy: City-boy Kade’s brand new boots closely followed by the garden hose.
Favourite place to sleep: Under the shade of the rainwater tank or on Tilly’s lap.
Favourite human: Little Tilly. She always saves me her breakfast toast crusts and never rouses when I wrestle the front door mat.
What I want to be when I grow up: Tilly’s protector. A western brown snake terrified Tilly and Mia (Tilly’s speech pathologist) yesterday in the garden when they were having a treasure hunt. So I’d better go and find the garden hose and keep practising my snake scaring techniques.
If I had one wish it would be: To keep Mia here at Berrilea. Orphaned Tilly needs her and as much as Kade won’t admit it he does too. Without Mia Kade will again be all work and no play. Maybe I should steal her car keys instead of a boot next time I sneak inside the homestead?
And the loudest.
(not a wilting flower, this one…)
Ruby weaves her way into The House on Burra Burra Lane by Jennie Jones and captures the hearts of heroine and hero, Sammy and Ethan … Wait – what’s that, Ruby? Oh – you want to tell it? Fine, be our guest.
Q: What breed are you?
A Landrace pig. I’m a big one, I weigh in at 300 pounds – not sure what that is in metric, but I’m a hefty girl.
Q: What’s your favourite Food?
Scraps. You don’t want it, I’ll eat it (got to keep my weight up).
Q: What’s your favourite toy?
Any fence I can dig my way under and out of.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A 400 pound Landrace pig. That’s the goal – got any scraps?
Q: Who are your favourite humans?
Dr. Ethan Granger (he’s the vet). He treats me like a Landrace girl wants to be treated, know what I mean? He doesn’t laugh when my owner puts me in a harness and walks me down Main Street. The other is Sammy (she’s the new girl in town – real pretty but not hefty enough if you ask me). Sammy helped save me when I got myself into a jam. She’s an artist so she’s got a soft, gentle touch. Not sure why she’s in town though – something funny going on there.
Q: What is your role in the story?
Glad you asked. I’m not one to gossip, usually too busy digging and eating, but if you twist my trotter, I’ll let you in on a secret … When I got myself into that jam I mentioned, I saw sparks fly between the vet and the new girl. They like each other (snort, snort, oink, oink – know what I’m talking about?).
I’m not an avid human-watcher, but they’re everywhere and a clever pig notices things and something didn’t seem right between these two. I’d like to help them out if I can because I really want to be in the next book this Jennie Jones is writing.
Well, that sums me up. By the way, I’m available for Agony Piggie posts if anyone wants me to interfere in their love lives. Will work for scraps.