The Curious Case of the Pheasant and the Dog, by Peter Tickler
Where do you get your ideas from? Almost every author ever published will have been asked this question at some stage. And in the case of my latest crime novel White Lies, Deadly Lies, there are two answers, a pheasant and a dog.
The pheasant and I had a very close call a few years ago. I was heading towards London down the M40 in poor weather conditions when it decided to cross the dual carriageway. Pheasants do not fly high at the best of times and it was with some fascination that I watched as it raced from right to left across my vision. First it narrowly avoided a terminal encounter with a large lorry heading north-west towards Oxford. Then, as it struggled to maintain what little altitude it had, it flashed over the bonnet of my own battered car. It survived to fly another day, and for some reason this (very) close encounter lodged itself in my brain and eventually became the catalyst for a scene which spawned a plot.
As for the dog, that was a westiepoodle which I encountered in more serene circumstances, walking along the river Thames in Abingdon. It was black, an unusual colour for that breed, and for some reason the little chap stuck in my head and in due course he became a character in my book. He is not the first dog to make an appearance in one of my tales, but he did take on a very significant part. I am not sure why or how. He was intended to be little more than a cute and awkward encumbrance for my housing-sitting private investigator Doug Mullen, but characters tossed into a plot often lead writers down unexpected paths, and this is as true for canine characters as for human ones.
I called the dog Rex, or king. I cannot remember why. Maybe I liked the irony of such a small dog having such a name. But the name had been planted deep within my being a long time ago by the writer Joyce Stranger, who I read as a teenager. One of her best books (as far as I was concerned) told the story of a sheepdog called Rex.
Anyway my Rex seems a loveable little rogue and he is due another outing with the long-suffering Doug.
Anyone interested is welcome to attend the launch of White Lies, Deadly Lies on Tuesday 30 October from 6.30 p.m. until 8.30 p.m. at George and Delila’s Ice Cream Cafe, 104 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JE.