Good Reading : December January 2016
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 32 BEHIND THE BOOK Dogs are trained to locate drugs and explosives, lead someone safely across the road, collect money from a cashpoint and find your keys. Dogs are trained to locate Monty’s voice needed to be the right mix of humility and determination, bravery and silliness, fun and sorrow. I wanted readers to fall in love with him and cheer him on to the very end. I hope I have succeeded. Creating well-rounded, intriguing characters is always important, but perhaps even more so when you ask your readers to suspend their disbelief and view the world as a dog might see it. True to his breed, Monty’s Achilles heel is his food addiction, particularly to cheese and McDonald’s burgers, the love of which was his downfall at guide dog school. Dogs in the story have their own ter minology, myths and history, as well as a moral code, known as the Canine Ten Commandments: ‘They’re our laws and are centuries old and every dog in the world is taught them as a pup. It’s because of these laws that we have such a special relationship with people.’ Dogs have an oral history that’s passed down through the generations. This is how Monty explains why dogs and cats tend not to get on: ‘Legend has it that Harold II was killed by an arrow in the eye. Not true. The Dog Chronicles – our oral history – tell us that it was Harold’s trusty hunting hound who took the arrow, so his master could live. The archer who fired the arrow was said to always have a cat on his shoulder for good luck. Harold was later killed in battle, so the dog died in vain. But word spread throughout England of the hunting hound’s heroism and loyalty, and that the cat had directed the archer to aim for the dog. And so the animosity began.’ Above all, I wanted Monty and Me to be fun. There are sad and tense moments, but I hope Monty’s joyful optimism shines through. I’ll let Monty have the final word: ‘She pulls into the drive-through and orders two bacon and egg McMuffins and a coffee. She unwraps one, blows on it and then hands it to me. I devour the salty, sugary, sticky yumminess and spend the rest of the journey licking my lips. Life is good!’ For more information, go to montydogdetective.com. Monty and Me by Louisa Bennet is published by Avon, rrp $22.99.