Message From The Author

Jane Ashford

Genre: Regency Period, England, Historical Romance

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Author's Message

I like using animal characters in fiction. Partly, I just love animals, and I think the ones we have around us play an important part in our lives. Over the years, I’ve had three cats, each with its own distinct personality. Georgina was a female orange tabby, which is relatively rare (most orange tabbies are male). She was dignified and self-contained, though affectionate. A Jane Austen kind of  cat, like her name. The second, Krish, was all black except for a few white hairs at his throat. We got him as a tiny kitten to keep Georgina company. She hated him on sight and never got over the invasion of her sedate existence in their years together. To add insult to injury, he grew to be about twice her size and took every opportunity to taunt her. My current cat is new to the household. He’s just ten months old, a gray male with an attitude. He’s still learning not to gnaw fingers. When we went away for a few days over the December holidays, he rejected the cat sitter, pulled my clothes off a closet shelf and moved in there until we returned. Quite the little character!

I think such characters offer lots of opportunities in fiction. The cat in my latest book Once Again a Bride – called Callie, for calico – is a creature of London’s alleys and gutters. Adopted by the young sister of the hero and gentle only with her, Callie is a source of comedy in the plot. When Ethan the footman is required to bathe her, a pair of leather riding gloves is reduced to shreds. Callie discourages some unwelcome callers by scaling the drawing room curtains to perch, hissing, above their heads. 

Beyond humor, the denizens of a novel can say things to an animal character that they wouldn’t reveal to another person. The heroine of Once Again a Bride, Charlotte, tells Callie that, “There is something about Sir Alexander. When I am with him I feel more alive, somehow. Even if it is simply a more lively irritation. Last night, the sky, the scent of flowers; it was as if I hadn’t really noticed them properly before. And I wanted to hold his arm forever.” She wouldn’t dare  expose these feelings to the other people in the book at that point in the story. But she can tell Callie, a trustworthy, if irascible, confidante. The intrepid feline’s antics also become a model for Charlotte and inspire her toward her own independence.

For all these reasons, I take every opportunity to use animal characters in my books. The next one includes a mongrel dog named Randolph who’s the size of a small pony.

- Jane Ashford

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