I'm often asked where I get inspiration for the Rescue Me series stories. While I’ve been writing long enough that ideas for scenes, characters, and meet cutes strike on a daily basis, coming up with unique rescue stories for the dog stars in the books also flows fairly easily. Some of my ideas come from my experiences working with nonprofits and shelters over the years. Sometimes, however, that inspiration is closer to home.
Although the breeds are different, Rolo's personality in To Be Loved By You is almost all Nala, my family’s six-year-old “humane society special,” who upon testing proved to be a mix of pit bull, Rottweiler, Neapolitan mastiff, and Basset hound. Nala is playful and sweet, and a bona fide cat lover. She’s also a “foster fail” in that, within a few weeks of fostering her as a young puppy, we knew we wanted to adopt her. For her first few years, it was just her, Hazel (our border collie mix who’s six years her senior), and Owen, our cantankerous Maine coon who rules the roost. Once Nala’s puppy craziness settled down, it was fairly easy sailing. Having an older dog in the house to show her the ropes and a cantankerous cat who won't take flak no doubt helped.
Even so, with two dogs and one cat, I had a strict “no more pets” policy. Then my nearly grown daughter learned of a few-week-old lethargic and dehydrated abandoned kitten and stepped in to help get him to accept a syringe of kitten formula. Max needed care around the clock, proving too much for his owner. Suddenly, he was with us full time, and the house was in chaos again. Owen did not like the idea of sharing the house with a kitten, and Nala wanted to be up close and personal in the rescue process, but at some point over those first few months, it became clear that Max was here to stay.
When Max was about two months old and wild enough to have earned the nickname “squirrel” for always darting about the house with his long tail completely fluffed, he slipped out the door one night while we were hauling in a Christmas tree. In the chaos, it took a bit to notice he was missing. By the time we realized he’d snuck outside, he’d disappeared. It was dark and below freezing, and my teens and I were quite worried. A windstorm was blowing through, and even though we could occasionally hear his frail little meows carried on the wind, we couldn’t locate him.
Inside the house, Nala was going crazy, barking out the window and wanting to be part of the action. We finally got the idea to let her outside off leash, and sure enough, nose to ground, she dropped into four-wheel mode and sniffed her way right to where Max was hiding several houses down in a backyard. Her scent-hound genes had kicked in and Max was safe! Ever since, Nala has taken good care of her little friend!
When drafting To Be Loved By You, I knew I wanted to write about a cat-loving dog, and affable Rolo was born. With a cat-loving dog in the mix, it was clear there needed to be a kitten rescue included, though the one in the book is a touch more dramatic than the real life story.
If you’ve not had a chance to read the sixth installment in the Rescue Me series, I hope you love it and enjoy Rolo as much as I do. I’m pleased to share that last week, To Be Loved By You was an Indie regional bestseller, hitting #10 in the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association Bestseller List for mass market books.
Until next time, be well and stay pawsitive!