Clare Mackintosh with dogs

Sunday Times best-selling author, Clare Mackintosh, took some time out of her busy schedule promoting her new book ‘After the end’ to talk to us about what she believes to be the Power of Dogs.

Q. What does the Power of Dogs mean to you?

I never cease to be amazed by the intelligence of dogs, nor by their capacity to help humans. For me, the Power of Dogs isn’t only about those animals who have been trained to give practical assistance, but about all dogs. It’s in the instinctive way a dog will seek out someone who is upset, and try to make them feel better.

Q. Is there a reason why dogs have featured in some of your books?

As someone who has grown up with dogs, and who can’t imagine not owning one, it’s harder for me to write a domestic set-up without a dog, than with one… Dogs feature as significant characters – as opposed to background detail – in two of my novels, I Let You Go and Let Me Lie. I’m a firm believer in the power of dogs to heal heartache, and in both these books, the canine characters have a role to play in the grieving process.

Q. Who are your current dogs?

Maddie is a seven-year-old white and tan springer spaniel, and Willow is a brown sprocker. They’re gorgeous dogs and we’ve recently broken our ‘no dogs on the furniture’ rule and allowed them onto the kitchen sofa, so that’s where I live now…

Q. Tell us a funny story about one of your dogs

In 2006 I was pregnant with twins and suffering from horrific morning sickness. Our dog at the time was a Labrador called Toby, who had a habit of stealing socks from the washing basket and eating them whole. We were out for a walk and Toby was trying to do his business, thwarted by something coming out of his bottom that just wouldn’t drop. Much to both our distress, the next ten minutes were spent extricating a ten-dernier stocking from Toby’s behind, while I tried to keep my breakfast down. 

Q. What’s your favourite breed of dog and why?

Spaniels! I adore their characters and their energy, and they have the most beautiful coats. I get quite cross when people say ‘oh, spaniels – they’re bonkers!’ because ours are very calm, and just flop about the house all day. I suspect it’s the owners who are bonkers, not the dogs…

Q. What’s your favourite dog walk and why?

We live in North Wales and I love to walk along the river Tryweryn to Llyn Tegid. Maddie sticks to the shallows, but Willow will launch herself into the freezing water over and over, bringing me back dripping sticks and begging to go again. I often swim in the lake and sometimes take her with me – who needs dolphins when you have a dog?

Clare is speaking at our Power of Dogs event, in Cheshire on 26 September. The Sunday Times best-selling author will be talking about ‘Why Writers Need Dogs’. Find out more and book tickets.

Clare Mackintosh author