I grew up with fabulous stories like The Animals of Farthing Wood, Redwall and The Deptford Mice. Seriously, these stories stirred my imagination and, I’m sure, put me on my own writing path. The thought that beneath our feet, all these little animals were chatting away and forming their own societies just
resonated with me so much. But, alas, we have to grow up (at least physically, if not mentally), and having started writing my own series, I’ve realised I’m not really a fan of the talking creature.
There are many books where language skills come seamlessly to the creatures living in our world. The protagonist happily chats to a cat or passing squirrel. I never think it too awful if it’s animals of the same species – it’s not too far reaching to presume they could have their own language. Alternatively, If my human character’s dreaming, or just glugged a pot of ‘special‘ mushroom soup down, then it’s quite allowable in their hallucinogenic state. But even in a magical world such as Harry Potter, the animals don’t actually talk – crookshanks never hopped on Hermione’s lap and gave away Scabber’s secret. Even those skilled in transfiguration to the point where they’re an animagus aren’t able to speak when in animal form.
Don’t get me wrong; my stories are FILLED with creatures; I can’t help it, I’m an animal lover. There are cats, spiders, wolves and all sorts in my books. They never talk though; they’re just cute – well, most of them depending on your feelings towards bugs. The only exception is in To Kill A Curse, but you’ll discover exactly how and why it’s able to happen.
I suppose, looking at it logically, I’m a hypocrite. If I don’t like humans and cats talking, then I shouldn’t like fox and badgers fleeing Farthing Wood together, or the mice and squirrels of Deptford drawing up battle plans. As it goes, I shouldn’t think I’ll be writing talking animals any time soon. The unrealistic factor is too much: despite that I’m writing fantasy fiction!
But when it comes to fictional animals, do you prefer realism, or are you not bothered when the family hamster starts singing Happy Birthday? Is it okay for animals to talk to one another, as long as they don’t start conversing with humans too?