I’m always delighted to meet new authors and discover new books. So it’s my pleasure to welcome author Vicki Hendricks here today to talk about her charming book, FUR PEOPLE, A NOVEL.
First, let me share a brief synopsis of FUR PEOPLE, A NOVEL.
When Sunny Lytle is evicted for keeping her fur family of thirteen dogs, eight cats, two ferrets, and two rabbits in her apartment in Kentucky, she packs them into a converted school bus and returns to her hometown, DeLeon Springs, Florida.
Her dream is to create a no-kill animal rescue, but survival soon takes top priority. The woods is no longer the peaceful haven of Sunny’s teen years, and the brutal demands of nature and the threatening intervention of Rita, a well-meaning veterinarian, create an ongoing struggle. Buck, a quirky homeless man, becomes her brave ally.
To honor their memories, all animal names used in the novel are of deceased fur friends beloved by their families.
Vicki joins us now to talk about her book. I thought it would be fun and I asked Vicki to answer four questions that she wished readers would ask her. Welcome, Vicki.
Four questions I would like to answer about my new novel.
* Why did you decide to leave crime and write a book about an animal hoarder?
I love animals more than murder and have always included at least one major animal character in my crime novels. For FUR PEOPLE I decided to go all the way with a novel based completely on animal obsession instead of sexual obsession, my usual theme.
I have a personal investment here. In my late twenties, I had a family of nine cats and sixteen rabbits, as well as a few hamsters, and still, I long to own every animal I see. Since those days, I have been able to control my tendencies because of my living circumstances, so maybe I don’t have a clinical case, but nevertheless, I have to admit that I did have a hoarding problem.
After I’d started writing the novel and fleshing out the daily life of my character Sunny I realized that I hadn’t given the best care to my cats, not being able to afford regular vaccinations and allowing them to roam freely outside where eventually one was hit by a car and another attacked by dogs. The rabbits were eventually given to a farmer. I don’t like to think about that.
Now I volunteer for Cat Pals of Hollywood, Florida, and caring for the many sweet cats helps my craving. The novel was also therapy. I participated in terrible details as I created them, the stench of overly used litter boxes, itching of fleas, and the gnawing in hungry stomachs. Through my research I learned that each county in Florida euthanizes from 8,000 to 25,000 animals per year because of irresponsible people who allow the births of animals they can’t, or won’t, properly support. The numbers are going down because of new programs, but they are not unusual statistics for counties in any state. I have learned that I cannot be part of that, and I want to give the best life to those that I bring into my home. I hope the novel can help others as it did me.
* Who is your favorite character?
I love all my characters, but my favorite is Buck, the homeless man. Buck is witty, gritty, natural, sexually incorrigible, and nutty, but strong, competent and tidy, as well as a hero to Sunny. The conversations between Buck and Sunny and Buck’s internal monologues are my favorite parts. Buck shows his heroism in one of the most exciting scenes in the novel, but I don’t want to give it away.
Pancho comes in second, a spunky over-sexed Chihuahua with a quirky point of view, who stands up to a German shepherd when necessary.
* Are any of the animal characters modeled after real animals?
So glad you asked! I’ve given all of the animal characters in the novel names of deceased fur people that I’ve known and loved. Some dogs and cats belonged to family members and others to dear friends.
Pancho was the dog I grew up with, afflicted by mange as a pup and misdiagnosed, he was plump, pink, and scaly, just like in the novel, and maybe more lovable. Schmeisser was the dog of my high school days, and Gus, Tamper, Tulip, Duke, and Devo belonged to my mother and sisters. Sula and Ajax were my remarkable ferrets. Rufus belonged to my college roommate and friend of forty years, Denise Fuciu D.V.M., now deceased. I like to think she’s up there somewhere, taking care of all the others.
* How would you classify FUR PEOPLE?
I’d like to see FUR PEOPLE in the category, so far non-existent, Animal Literature or the little-known category Literature of Animals and Society.
Animals have always been important in relationships to people, and thousands of titles in non-fiction bear that out. Lately, more non-humans are taking their rightful place as main characters in fiction, and they need a dedicated bookshelf, if only in cyberspace. A few of my favorites: The Dogs of Babel, Racing in the Rain, Jennie, Ape House, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
Vicki, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing a look at FUR PEOPLE. It’s heartbreaking to think of so many animals put to death each year. Learning how we can prevent it is always a good thing.
Now, let me tell you a bit about Vicki.
Vicki is the author of noir novels Miami Purity, Iguana Love, Voluntary Madness, Sky Blues, and Cruel Poetry, the latter a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2008. Her short stories are collected in Florida Gothic Stories.
Vicki lives in Hollywood, Florida, and teaches writing at Broward College. Her plots and settings reflect participation in adventure sports, such as skydiving and scuba, and knowledge of the Florida environment. Love of animals, apparent in her earlier novels, comes to the forefront in her new novel FUR PEOPLE.
For more on Vicki and her writing, visit her at www.vickihendricks.com.
Thanks so much for dropping by today. What’s the most pets you’ve ever had at one time (including farm animals, if you’d like)?