You know when you’re a kid and you hear a song lyric incorrectly, but you swear that your version is the right one, and the fiction turns out to be more wonderful than the truth? Werewolves of London is that song for me. I had always thought that he was saying Werewolves of Thunder. How cool would that be? Werewolves of Thunder! Maybe they could even showdown with the Thunder Cats. Alas, my childhood fantasy of thunder werewolves was not meant to be. However, in a lot of ways, the character of Jasputin Trotsky is much cooler in the story of his head than in reality.
Jasputin was a character brewing long before I decided to get back into writing science fiction again. When we first started dating, my wife had a small 18 pound dog named Jasper. It took one weekend of watching him while she was out of town to earn his love. Now he sleeps on my shoulder as I type this post. When my wife and I first moved in together long before we were married. We got a nice slice of the ghetto near Burton Park. Since the neighborhood on the other side was nicer than ours, we’d muse on our walks about what was going on in the dog’s head.
We had created this inner monologue of this great hero who guards the house and called my wife, mommy, and me, “man”. Since our dog seemed to take every task with a grave sense of importance be it barking at the mailman, or walking through the park, we amused ourselves for hours with a “dog” voice about what Jasper thought about the world. We had visions of our dog sitting in a large stuffy chair in a gentleman’s sitting room, smoking a cigar and sipping cognac, talking about the rise and fall of bone prices. We created mysteries perpetrated by an “m-man” only to be discovered later that it was mailman all along. He was a dog PI named Licks Waggert. A Russian revolutionary named Jasputin Trotsky. A landed gentry named Sniff Barklington with our cat Mura Purmewsmith.
Though Jasper’s appearance in my novel almost never happened. In the first draft, the dog was flavor text for the first chapter. Later on (spoiler alert), I realized that actuators would probably need some helpers who could take the equivalent of the employee corridors of a haunted house. If a building was designed to test, then someone had to reset the test and clean up the bodies. The “friends” were born, and if there was going to be a character from the core group who was destined to join the friends, why not use this larger than life character my wife and I created together. My only regret is that I didn’t get to use more of our silly dog related creations. Maybe one day, I’ll write a dog fantasy novel with a hardened PI named Licks Waggert.