My guest today is fellow author, Tabitha Ormiston-Smith, please help me make her feel welcome.
Thank you for having me Lesley, well it all started when I saw the advertisement in the local paper.
‘2 Y. O. Irish Wolfhound, free to good home.’
I was out of work in the recession, and I’d moved to my country house to save rent. I was working on my second novel, and naively hoped I’d be able to make a living from writing books. Ha! I know better now.
I didn’t want a dog, didn’t even like dogs much, but unfortunately my mother was visiting and bullied me into offering the dog a home. ‘You need a dog,’ she said, ‘and a Wolfhound is perfect for your image.’ ‘What image?’ I asked, not unreasonably, I thought. ‘You’re a writer now,’ she said. ‘You’ve got the picturesque cottage already, now you need a Wolfhound.’
My mother, may she rest in peace, was a very forceful woman, and I soon found myself ringing up about the dog. However, it had already gone. I was relieved to hear this, and thought no more about it. Two months later, my mother arrived on my doorstep at 7a.m. ‘She’s got the dog back and she wants you to have it.’
I had lost whatever tiny, forced bit of interest I had had in this dog, but there, I think I’ve mentioned my mother was a forceful woman. I found myself going to her house to speak to the lady. She was crying and hysterical. Apparently she had gone to check on how the dog was settling in and found him in conditions of horrible abuse. I told her I was no longer interested, but she went on and on, whining and crying, and I found myself agreeing to go and see the dog. ‘I’ll come and see him,’ I told her, ‘but I definitely don’t want him.’
That was all good. I’d been firm, and made my position clear.
When we arrived at the farm, the dog was chained to a post in the yard. It was running manically back and forth, and it looked like nothing on earth. It was obviously violently overactive, and it was completely hideous to boot. Then I stepped too close and it jumped on me, knocked me to the ground and stamped on my face.
When I managed to get to my feet, tears streaming from my left eye which had been stamped on, I opened my mouth and said ‘You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t want anything to do with that creature.’ However, something went glitchy in my brain, and what actually came out was ‘Okay, I’ll take him.’
It was a happy accident. Fionn was a wonderful dog. He made me so happy. I found out later that he wasn’t a Wolfhound at all but a Deerhound, and I’m now on my third Deerhound, Emily, who appears on the cover of my just-released novel, Where The Heart Is. Most of that book is about a deerhound, and the character is based on Fionn. Although the book is fiction, the scene where Fiona becomes Fionn’s owner is taken directly from life.
This, to me, exemplifies the old saying, ‘A writer’s duty is to experience life.’ There’s very little, good or bad, that can’t become grist to the writer’s mill sooner or later.
Link to Where The Heart Is on Amazon.
What a wonderful story, thank you Tabitha for sharing.