At first I resisted making them my post for the Cherished BlogFest 2017. Then as always, I realised that resistance was futile. So here’s my entry for the blogfest. This event only lasts this weekend. Pop over to the master sign-up list and visit as many as you can!
Fred and George, guinea pigs extraordinaire
Whenever I think of my most cherished things, my first guinea pigs, Fred and George, spring into mind.
They were brothers, they taught me most of what I know, and they were the most perfect gentlemen. Fred and George held equal place in my heart. George, with all the problems he had with malformed teeth, caused me so much anxiety. There were travels to specialists, a course about how to look after guinea pig teeth, and tending neck abscesses—all manner of other things. He was the one who got my complete attention over many months at a time. Fred was stoical, loyal, and had his eye on me to make sure I did things right.
I was so focused on them, I decided I had to get two more to divide my attention. Hugo and Victor came into my heart. At that point I discovered that opening your heart wider makes no difference to the amount of love you devote to someone. Every person receives total love, even if time has to be divided up into unequal amounts.
Then came the books
It’s the story of my life: these guinea pigs captured my imagination, and I started writing stories about them. The stories turned into a trilogy of books, and the trilogy turned in a series, that now has an end in sight – at number 10. Nearly all the guinea pigs whose short lives have passed through my heart since Fred and George, feature in them to a greater or lesser extent. Book 4 stars Hugo, Book 5, Humphrey, Book 6, Victor. Kevin, Colman, Dylan and Dougall were involved in more minor roles.
Dylan and Dougall – the hairy guinea pigs
It wasn’t until I wrote book 8, due out in January, that I realised Dylan and Dougall had taken nearly as large a part in my life as Fred and George. Like Fred and George, they came to me as babies. Dylan was always into everything. The very first photo of him shows ‘uncle’ Victor looking proud in the middle, Dougall sitting shyly beside him, and Dylan around the back, already looking for mischief. I wrote Christmas stories about them, setting them up in my favourite holiday destination, where I’d taken Fred, George, Victor and Hugo. Alas, I was never able to take Dylan and Dougall, although I’m sure they’d have loved it.
But Book 8, the Princelings of the North, sees them rescuing Kevin from a place where his uncle Colman has exiled him, and helping Kevin to travel the length of the Realms (roughly equivalent to a wild and people-less Britain) to reclaim his inheritance. Never was a book easier to write – Dylan is such a strong character. The only question in my mind was how to write Dougall, who was deaf. Eventually I decided it was an unnecessary complication to the story.
So for my Cherished blogfest post, I’d like to praise all my guinea pigs, but especially Fred and George, and Dylan and Dougall – and the long-suffering and very patient Victor.
I love you all.
Inktober day 13: Prompt ‘teeming’
And for #inktober, I’m adjusting one of my book 8 illustrations to show Dylan, Dougall and Kevin, trudging over Rannoch Moor in the teeming rain on their journey south. See all my efforts to learn how to draw on my iPad on Twitter or my Pinterest page.