Sara Hosey

Sometimes you have to get lost to get found.

shallow focus photography of dog

Photo by Adam Kontor on


In my novel, Iphigenia Murphy,  the main character, Iffy, finds herself saving–and being saved by–a stray dog.  Iffy remarks that she and the dog are both “black haired and skinny and scared”–they are a natural match.

As I’ve written elsewhere, Iffy’s relationship with her dog was a starting point for me when I was working on the novel. Many of us have potent memories of animals we’ve loved, feared, disappointed, or lost.  Now, use your past experiences with non-human animals in order to develop a character who has very particular feelings and/or relationships with a non-human animal.

You might start by asking yourself about pets you’ve been attached to or profoundly connected with. You might remember an encounter at a petting zoo or a friend’s apartment when you looked into a non-human’s eyes and saw that there was someone at home.

Alternately, if you identify as a non-animal lover, you might describe the time a pushy cat kept trying to sit on your lap, or tell about how you were menaced by your neighbor’s otherwise-friendly pooch, or probe why you are unmoved by gifs that have others weeping.

Whatever direction you pursue, try to remember an incident that will allow you to tap into a vein of emotion: love, guilt, grief, anxiety, rage.

white polar bear on white snowy field near canal during daytime

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