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Five Reasons Why Authors Need Pets

I have a lot of pets. It’s right in my standard bio: Kelley Armstrong lives in Ontario with her family and far too many pets. No one asks where I live in Ontario. No one asks about my family. It’s the pet part that gets all the questions. What kind do you have? What are their names? We currently have one dog (a 14-year-old beagle—Joey) 3 cats (6-year-old Maine Coon siblings—Rafe and Annie—and an 8-month-old Bengal, Cam.) Also fish and one gecko. Yep, a lot of pets. As a writer, I’m convinced they’re a career requirement…or at least it makes a fine excuse for having them. So, here are five reasons authors needs pets.

1) Silent companionship. I love my family. I really do. But I can’t write with them around. There will always be those throat-clearing and shuffling noises that mean “I’d like to speak to you, but I know I shouldn’t interrupt.” With the pets, I’ll look up to realize I’m surrounded by three cats and a dog, all of them silently chilling. Okay, occasionally, I see Rafe staring, waiting for attention, but at least he’s quiet about it.

2) Petting breaks. The pets don’t interrupt my writing, but the moment I pause, one of them will remind me that I need a screen break. Rafe will hop up beside me. Cam will attack my feet. Annie will climb on my chest and literally block my view of the laptop. Joey will rise in hopes of a walk. If you’re a writer, you need these breaks, especially the one that requires getting off your butt and going outside.

3) Promo ops. Showing off your new book online? Add a pet. Sure, it’s the book you’re showcasing, but it’s the pet that will get eyeballs on the photo. It doesn’t need to be a fancy staged shot. Just put the book on the floor and one of the pets will wander over to see why there’s a book on the floor. Snap pic. Post. Watch the likes and comments roll in.

4) Humility reminders. See point 3. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, no post about your books will ever be as popular as your most mundane pet pic. Try it. Post “OMG, I just got a fourth starred review for my new novel!” and “Here’s a blurry photo of my sleeping cat.” and see which gets more attention.   

5) Author photos. See 3 & 4 above and extend that one step further to include a pet in your author photo. No one will care what you look like. They’ll all be busy looking at the furry critter at your side. When my photographer recently took my new author photos, the first thing she said was “let’s see if we can get one of the cats in a shot.” I had my sister, daughter and husband all look at the proofs to help me pick. Which set was their favorite? The one with Cam, naturally. If you don’t have a resident pet for your photos, rent one. You won’t regret it.

Kelley Armstrong lives in Ontario with her family and far too many pets. WHEREVER SHE GOES is available now.