By J.A. CAMPBELL
Genre: FICTION, URBAN FANTASY/HORROR/DARK FANTASY
Length: 56 pages
Release Date: DECEMBER 19, 2011
Author Website: http://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixfirewolfAuthor J.A. Campbell is back today with another guest post. Although best known for her YA stories, long before those YA stories were published, Julie would write and post stories about Doc, the Vampire Hunting Dog on her website. Recently, some of those stories were compiled into a book and released in print. Today, Julie is talking about writing from a dog's point of view. Welcome Julie, and thanks for stopping by.
A Dog’s View.
Bea, thank you so much for having me here today.
My novella and other short stories about Doc, Vampire-Hunting Dog, are all written from his point of view (POV). Never having been a dog myself, that I know of anyway, this presents an interesting challenge. Of course, I’ve never been a vampire, or an alien, or a Traveler, or many other things I’ve written stories about but they were all, in essence, human consciousness’ with slightly different takes on the world. I didn’t want Doc to seem like a human in a dog’s body, I wanted him to feel like a super intelligent dog, or in other words, a Border Collie. I won’t go into his inspiration much here because I’ve talked about it on other blogs for this tour, but I do want to talk about how I came up with his voice.
Kira, my dog, is a Border Collie, and as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, is directly responsible for Doc’s personality and mannerisms, along with research I’ve done and books I’ve read on dog psychology. When I set out to write a world from a dog’s POV I didn’t want it to sound cutsy as some people write dogs, or too simple because that wouldn’t be interesting, or very Border Collie-like. I had to find the right balance between the intelligence and keen observation of a dog and the limits a dog’s perspective would put on things like higher concepts of emotion (beyond happy, sad, etc) and states of being.
For example in this scene from Doc’s 2011 Halloween story:
Finally we were clear of that group. My ears rang from the noise of the guns. At one point I thought I heard shattering glass, then Kevin had a sharp stick in his hands. The rotting humans came again. One got to close to Kevin and I jumped on its back, pushing it away. I didn’t bite it. Every instinct told me not to get anything in my mouth. Kevin hit it with the stick once I was clear and then we ran again.
Finally we stopped in front of the doors that opened and took people up or down. They felt strange when you rode in them, like the floor was moving. The vampire forced the metal doors open and glanced down into a dark hole. I’d never seen that before and I sniffed. The air was stale but didn’t reek of rotting humans like the rest of the hotel did.
Doc and the others are running from a bunch of Zombies, which he calls rotting humans because of the way they smell. He sees Kevin getting the fire axe, but he doesn’t know what it’s called. However he does know what sticks are, and axes are essentially sticks with sharp pointy things on the end. He gets that. If someone told him it was called an axe, from then on he’d know to call it an axe in his mind. Of course in the middle of a zombie fight that isn’t going to happen. He also doesn’t know what an elevator is called, but he knows what it does. Again, if someone told him it was an elevator, he’d remember.
I base this ability to learn names on Kira. Obviously she’s not going to learn a name that isn’t directly important to her, which is where Doc’s exceptional nature comes in to play. He is essentially a superhero after all. However, when I bring home a new toy for Kira, I always name it. One of her games is to go get whatever toy from another room and bring it back to me. “Kira, go get your squeaky ball,” etc. She learns the names of new toys in about 30 seconds. No joke. If real life Kira can do it, Doc can too.
The trick is to keep in mind that he’s going to overhear things he won’t get, such as his human being in a daze. He doesn’t know what a daze is, but he does know Kevin isn’t fully awake. He doesn’t understand some things, but I try to make it clear that while he might not get the human version of the concept, he still has a doggy version.
The other trick in writing from Doc’s POV is to get enough of the back story in that my human readers will get what is happening while still enjoying the story from a new perspective.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of Doc’s stories free on my website: http://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/docs-stories/ Or check out his new novella.
Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. You can find out more at www.writerjacampbell.com