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Helen Harper

Kimchi the dog

Like pretty much every fiction author in the known universe, I don’t use real people in my books. That’s why it’s called fiction ;)! I will admit I have been known to take little asides that I’ve heard and use them though. For example, in the book I’m currently working on, one of the first lines is ‘You have to do bad shit to get ahead.’ I got that from a journalist I got chatting to during a night out in KL – he had spent some time with the Russian mafia and had related that particular tidbit as their raison d’etre. I did also once offer a competition to all my newsletter readers for a cameo in one of the Bo Blackman books. Embarrassingly, only one person took me up on it so the less said about that the better!

However, there is one specific character in the Bo Blackman series who is most definitely grounded in reality. And that’s Kimchi the dog. He’s actually an amalgamation of two gorgeous mutts who both belong to a fabulous Kiwi friend of mine. She rescued them both from the streets – first Kimchi then, about a year later, Molly.

It would be fair to say that Kimchi used to hate me. I’d go round to my friend’s house and he’d sit in front of me, regardless of how many other people were present, and simply bark. And bark. And bark. And bark. All at me. He’d never bite – he’s not that kind of dog – but it was clear I was far from his favourite person. It wasn’t until my friend patiently guided me through a treat-giving session that the tide turned. Now he loves me. At least, that’s what I’ve decided anyway. He’s an incredibly good-natured dog who suffers training and cats and all manner of craziness with adorable patience. (And ,if you’re curious, he’s called Kimchi because that’s the name he seemed to respond to most – after considerable attempts at finding one he liked himself!)

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Molly, the younger of the two, is nuts. For a long time, she was pretty chubby because, damn, does that dog like her food. She’d eat just about anything in sight. To be fair to her though, when I saw her last weekend she was looking far less plump so kudos to her! It’s probably all that energy she constantly expends. Molly is the kind of dog who you can put up a barrier in order to keep her in one part of the house and within hours she’s figured out some smart method of bypassing it. While my friend was away on holiday, I was on dog-sitting duty. I’d go round in the morning only to discover that chunks had been ripped out from the beautifully varnished and immaculate parquet flooring. I still have no idea how on earth she managed it. Don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty certain that, to date, two passports and five mobile phones have been destroyed as a result of Molly’s fond attention. There’s a tiny part of me that’s slightly sad she’s now growing out of a lot of that sort of behaviour, and with patient and professional dog training is becoming far better behaved. Because any story with Molly in it is going to be fun. She’s just utterly, utterly gorgeous.

So, for those of you who have read New Order and High Stakes from the Bo Blackman books, Kimchi the dog is really Molly. He has Kimchi’s name but Molly’s character – and every time he appears in a scene, I can do nothing but smile. The pair of them are wonderful and completely inseparable – both in real life and in literature!

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