What I learnt this week: 14th December 2017

Stars aren’t easy to work with

Perhaps I should alter that title to canine stars, as I can’t honestly say I’ve worked with any other type. Unless we can count a cardboard Jenson Button, in which case the title would have to change completely because Jenson is an absolute joy to work with. He goes where I put him, doesn’t grumble and has a constant sexy smile on his face.

I digress.

The real stars of my latest Christmas book, A Little Christmas Faith, aren’t the lovely Faith, owner of the Old Mill hotel, or the hunky Adam, her first guest. Nor is it Chloe, Faith’s stroppy teenage niece. No, the true stars are Nip and Tuck – a pair of rascal Cavachons. And don’t they know it. They feature quite a few times in the book, and steal every scene. I don’t usually put animals in my stories; the only pets I have are goldfish and while colourful and calming I can’t see them making much of a splash in a book (no groaning, please).

Mahrez (on the left) and Vardy

Mahrez (on the left) and Vardy

But in A Little Christmas Faith I liked the idea of big hearted Faith having a couple of crazy mutts running riot around her fledgling hotel. And hunky Adam picking the two fluffy dogs up, one under each arm. I didn’t even have to work hard to imagine what these dogs might look like, because I knew a real pair who fitted the description beautifully. Owned by dear friends, their real names are Ted and Oscar, but other than that, everything else you read about them in the book is true to their character. They were rescue dogs, nearly impossible to train, and impossibly cute.

‘Let’s have a photoshoot with Ted and Oscar’, I said to my friend. ‘It will be great for my blog.’

Now you know a true friend when they don’t question your idea. Simply make time in their busy day to turn up with the fluffy bundles.

Could we get them to sit dutifully by the tree? Well, yes, we did (umm, okay, my friend did. I was the photographer), in the end. Thanks to treats, persuasion and patience. But wow, it was worth it. Don’t they make a pretty (sorry, handsome) sight.

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Of course it didn’t all go according to plan. Here are two of the dozens of other photos that didn’t quite come off.

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Oh and being dogs, they saw a tree in the front room and….well, we don’t need to go into details, do we? After all, they are stars, and stars are allowed to be a little temperamental. Plus if I don’t promise to be discrete, they may not agree to star in any future books. Worse, they may not cuddle me again…

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