I'm a huge animal fan and have two dogs of my own; Traffy and Bella who I love to pieces even when they decide to dig their own escape tunnel in my garden!
When Puffin asked if I’d like to write a book set in World War II about three animal heroes, I immediately said yes.
The animal characters in the book are two dogs and a cat, plus some heroic homing pigeons, and it was really important to me that I got these animal characters right. Fortunately, I've got a friend who has six rescue collies (one of them was just left tied to her garden gate late at night and she found him there in the morning). They became the inspiration for Rose in the book. My neighbour’s cat helped with my research for Tiger. And a Jack Russell getting stuck down a fox-hole and needing to be rescued by the local fire-brigade helped me bring Buster to life.
This is the only story I've written that I needed to do some historical research for, and I loved visiting the museums and chatting to the people at Twinwoods Airfield, where I found out about Mosquitoes and Spitfires and Blenheim planes. I never realized how cold it was inside a World War II plane, or how vital homing pigeons were, until then.
My favourite part of the research was when I got to take my own dogs Traffy and Bella (there’s lots of photos of them on my website and their blogs) on a steam train like the pets in the book do.
Traffy and Bella liked looking out of the window very much but they liked it even more when the train stopped and they got to race along the beach.
I used to work for a charity that trained dogs so I wasn’t surprised by the amazing things dogs and cats did in the war, but I was horrified when I learnt about all the pets that were put down at the start of World War II, and desperately wanted to save some of them – even if I could only do so in a story. It made me think about Traffy and Bella and what would have happened to them. Would they have been able to escape? Maybe they’d have a chance but what about when they were just puppies?
Pets are so special that Puffin is running a competition about your pets and what makes them a hero to you. I can’t wait to read the entries and see the pictures! You can enter the competition here.