Meet the Animal Characters in . . .
Of the Wing
P. K. Butler (in 2018) with her two dogs, Rosie and Henry.
In 1999 my husband David and I adopted Sammy from a local SPCA. Then, in 2008, I adopted a "barn" kitten from a friend. Now almost 13, Gwendolyn is alive and well. And though Sammy passed from this physical world as an old dog, his spirit survives in my heart and in my books. And I like to imagine that he is sharing an afterlife with my husband, who passed in 2005.
Let's take a moment now to meet those real-life animals I've fictionalized in Of the Wing.
Of the Wing is a trilogy about a girl's love for birds, but it's also about her love for one special dog, Sammy, an English sheepdog mix. While the people characters within the trilogy are fictitious, Sammy and Gwendolyn (a long-haired calico cat) are based on my own animal companions.
If you think that Sammy looks a bit "woolier" in the photo to your right, you're not mistaken. In the winter, I let his long, thick fur grow out. But in springtime, I had it trimmed a bit for the warmer months.
The pasture and woodland settings described in An Odd Bird (Book One) are derived from my own and surrounding properties.
To the left, you see Sammy enjoying the pond on the property where I lived while writing the first and second books in the trilogy Of the Wing. When returning from our woodland walks, Sammy typically waded into the water for a good refreshing drink.
Gwendolyn came to me as a young kitten, newly weaned from her barn cat mother. I featured her and another of my dogs, Bridget (a black lab mix), in something like a graphic novel, except that I "posterized" the original photographs to create illustrations. (And I can assure you that her eyes are just as green in real life as they appear in this image.)
While Sammy is a character in all three books of the trilogy, Gwendolyn appears only in Book Three, The Shining Swan. That said, this calico "firestorm" is no insignificant character in that story.
Want to see these animals in action? Here's a somewhat grainy 2009 YouTube video of Sammy and Gwendolyn on our morning walk. Gwendolyn opens the scene, followed by Bridget (mentioned above) and Zoey (another rescued dog). Sammy makes his grand entrance around the 32 second mark.