A Time Of Dread author John Gwynne on the awesome real-life dogs who feature in his books

Author John Gwynne writes about the brilliant canines who’ve found their way into his novels

My Dogs

I love dogs. It feels like I’ve been around them all of my life. I grew up in a family with dogs around, and so did my wife, Caroline, so it’s the most natural thing in the world for us to have them as part of our family.

Family has played a large part in my writing. It was my wife and children that gave me the initial encouragement to attempt to write a book, and so led to me actually putting pen to paper. Also, if you’re familiar with my writing you’ll probably spot that family is one of the big themes that I like to explore. And because I’ve drawn upon my experiences of family, including our four-legged family members, it’s no surprise that my made-up world is populated by dogs and their ancestors, wolves, or should I say wolven.

So, I thought some of you might be interested in seeing some of the dogs that have graced my family, and tell you how they’ve worked their way into The Banished Lands.

This is Potter when he was a puppy. He’s a Wire-Haired Fox Terrier, and as you can see from the photo, he has a mischievous streak, and enjoys dressing up like a knight. He is so much fun and a real character. You may spot him in The Banished Lands going by the name of Pots. He first appears in RUIN, book three of The Faithful And The Fallen.

In the first photo below we have my lovely Trinity, the Akita in my author photo and my original inspiration for Storm in Malice. She was the most loyal, devoted dog I’ve ever known, and she is still very much missed. The other photo is of Hammer, my beautiful Dogue de Bordeaux. He loved to sit in the sun. Hammer shared a lot of characteristics with Buddai, Thannon’s hound.

Here we have Storm, our Akita, when she was a puppy, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She joined our family in 2012, the year that my first book, Malice, was published, and so my boys insisted on naming her after a certain wolven that becomes a close companion to Corban in The Banished Lands.

Here we have Hammer yawning and looking decidedly unimpressed with the arrival of my author-copies of Malice.

In the photo below we have Storm less than a year old, still a puppy, bounding along beside a more sedate Trinity. She’ was getting on a bit here, 13 years old, but still loving her walks in a rare snowfall.

The other photo is of Hammer enjoying a scratch and stroke from my beautiful daughter, Harriett. We had to put the brakes on her chair, because he would keep nudging Harriett until she stroked him.

The photo below is of Hammer and Storm playing in the snow. They were the greatest of friends. We tragically lost Hammer when he was only three years old. He suffered with a rare heart disease and when he passed away Storm pined for him terribly, as did all of us. Three months later we lost Trinity, my beloved Akita. She was much older, thirteen, but it was still an awful blow. Our dogs really do feel like members of our family.

This s Potter doing his impersonation of one of the Ben-Elim, my winged angelic warriors from the Otherworld. He looks almost angelic himself, but the next photo shows that he is far from angelic and enjoys getting into all kinds of mischief, including emptying paint-pots.

Below is our latest addition. This is Valour, another Dogue de Bordeaux. It took a long time after losing Hammer before we could contemplate getting another Dogue de Bordeaux. Over three years. But then Valour came along, all wrinkles, huge paws and floppy limbs. He’s a lovely, lovely boy. I love this breed, such calm, gentle temperaments, although Valour is turning out to be the clumsiest dog on the planet. It often feels like he’s a ginger battering-ram charging around the house. Perhaps I should have called him Grond… In the photo below he had only just joined us. He’s not in any of my books, yet…but watch this space…

And here are Valour and Storm now – they decided to go for a take-over bid of the sofa. We negotiated, and they agreed upon a compromise, where they seemed content to settle for squashing me. Valour’s a big lad, only recently turned one, so he’s still got some growing to do. The photo of him on the right he’s fast asleep at my feet, snoring loud enough to shake dust from the rafters.

Dogs are awesome, and we love ours deeply. They put a smile on our faces every single day, and have also somehow insinuated their way into my made-up worlds. I’m sure you’ll spot them in my books without too much difficulty.

A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne is available now in paperback from Pan Macmillan, priced £8.99.