The Ten Best Pets for Mystery Writers

Charliegreenberry over at alittleroomforwriting recently composed a couple of “top ten” lists. They look like good old-fashioned, tongue-in-cheek fun. So, I decided to make one of my own:

Courtney’s Top Ten Pets for Mystery Writers

10. Fish: because they’re a naturally captive audience. You can read your work-in-progress out loud and they will stare at you with little bugged-out eyes filled with awe and wonder (Or constipation. Can fish get constipated?). Sometimes, if they really like what they’re hearing, they’ll do this neat little trick that involves floating around on their backs looking bloated. Good boy, Flounder!

9. Snakes*: isn’t this one obvious? When you own a snake–especially a venomous snake–your hardcore nature is hard to miss. Everyone will know you deserve to be a mystery writer because you associate with a potentially deadly animal. Plus, those extra trips to the ER double nicely as research for your upcoming novel: Death by Snakes.

8. Snails: who doesn’t find snails at least slightly mysterious? A snail can pull its eyes into its own body, for heaven’s sake! Also, when your snail gets hijacked by parasites and becomes a snail zombie, you may be inspired to branch out into paranormal mystery.

7. Rocks: I know, I know, pets are typically living. But hear me out on this one. Draw your little Mr. or Miss a face (cute, ugly, whatever floats your boat) and set him/her on your desk. You don’t have to feed it, clean up after it, or take it for walks (although it does fit neatly into your pocket if you so desire). You can ignore it to your heart’s content–especially on those rare days when Muse takes over and you actually write a page or two–and talk to it when you feel crazed and alone. It won’t bat an eyelash at the crazy things you say.

6. Tarantulas Goats: I have nothing positive or worthwhile to say about spiders. If that makes me a derelict mystery writer, so be it. On the other hand, I could talk about goats for an hour. Maybe two…as long as no consumption of their milk is required. Why do goats make good pets for mystery writers? Because they are goats. The end. If you need a better reason: you can eat them, sell them, breed them, and drink and make cheese from their milk (if you’re into goat milk). These qualities are excellent in the event you quit your day job before you sell your book. You gotta eat somehow. Just don’t name the goat Bambi and you’ll be fine when it comes time to barbecue.

5. Parrots: because (1) you can teach them to pitch your book for you. “To Die For: the ultimate in South West Mystery!” “Buy To Die For, and gimme a cracker!” I can see it now! and, (2) you can teach them words like sesquipedilian, amalgamation, and gadzookery.

4. Guinea Pigs: two words–Ancient Andes. Guinea pigs were first domesticated in South America. They were food, then. But still, their history is an amalgamation (there’s that word again) of pre-Columbus mystery, think Incas, Aztecs, Toltecs, and pit-barbecue. You just can’t go wrong there.

3. Pygmy Elephants: do you tend to write exotic mysteries? Well then, this “little” guy is for you. After you get to know Dumbo, maybe you can email me an explanation of the whole pink-elephants thing? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure alcohol doesn’t cause those kind of hallucinations. Maybe there’s a book in there somewhere.

2. Dogs: I’m talking specifically about Blood Hounds, Basset Hounds,German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, and Rotweilers, but any ol’ hound will do. I’m pretty sure Droopy once did a stint as Sherlock Holmes (and I really want this t-shirt, which proves my point).’Nuff said.

1. Cats: cats are awesome and require very little attention. I’ve trained my cat** to keep me company while I am writing and reading–without being needy or ostentatious like a dog would. Although THIS (see image above) sometimes happens, my cat and I have a growing understanding of one another. This understanding has been further aided by the following two comics by The Oatmeal: 17 Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat and How to Pet a Kitty. More cat/author happiness can be found at the following blog: Writers and Kitties.

* Handling venomous snakes is ill-advised and potentially fatal. The author does not advise and cannot be held responsible for any ill-fated snake-handling subsequent to this post.

** Hah. Funny me. Cats cannot be trained. They have Selective Behavior Disorder. My cat sometimes indulges me. When I’m lucky.

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