Thomas is currently working on a chapter in the sixth book in which, for the first time in all the Dooven Books, Oscar is seen from another character's point of view for its entire length. Generally, chapters involving Oscar unfold from his point of view, but in this case, it is revealed from Lydia's because her motives for arguing with him require conveying to the reader. It is an unfamiliar way of seeing him, not least because the extent of her adoration of him becomes apparent, despite her continued irritation at his selfishness at this point in the story. Even his obtuse attitude is endearing. Yes, Oscar becomes obtuse. Having not seen Oscar from any point of view other than his own—at least, not for an entire chapter—he is afforded a colour and vibrance that Thomas has only felt in imagination, and which had not been conveyed in writing. The books’ use of protagona; that is, large casts necessitating more than one central character, means it is surprising that this hasn’t happened previously. The difference this time is that the careful head-hopping required for protagona is surrendered for an entire chapter from Lydia’s vantage only. Clearly, she loves Oscar and understands his selfishness, though struggles to forgive him for it when it jeopardises an entire world. This restricted point of view also exacerbates the tension when, while dining at a restaurant, Christabelle, Oscar’s Artistic Director, arrives, who adores him for the same reasons as Lydia.
Here’s their meeting, in a restaurant renowned for its unusual recipes in the splendid city of Bisarah, most of which is currently on fire:
Lydia took his paw, but before she could say anything more, they were interrupted.
“Oh.” The voice was surprised. “Good evening, Mister Dooven.”
Lydia looked up to see a beautiful and stylish dog with large hooped earrings and the sort of scarf that might double as curtains when necessary.
Oscar pulled free and said something about the arrival being his Artistic Director.
Uncertain of social conventions at the best of times, Lydia resorted to instinct. She stood, began a smile and held out a paw, before withdrawing both before anything conventional happened.
“We were just discussing venues,” said Oscar.
An awkward silence followed when all three experienced the sort of unfamiliar circumstance that popular situational comedic theatrical productions often specialise in.
When Oscar asked whether Christabelle wanted to join them, Lydia scoffed, which resulted in a glare from Christabelle followed by some definite sitting down.
There was an extended silence while the dogs eyed each other.
“Well,” said Oscar. “This is nice.”
“Isn’t it,” sad Lydia, glaring.
“Splendid,” said Christabelle.
WIth the frivolity of munched meals around them highlighting the icy atmosphere, Oscar stood, muttered something about getting another wheelbarrow, and left.
“So,” said Lydia, uncertain that she’d get through the encounter without putting her in hospital. “How do you know Oscar?”
“Besides being his artistic director, I’m also a very close friend.”
“Really?” Another scoff. “You can’t be that close, considering he and I—both of us—only arrived in Bisarah a fortnight ago. Together.”
“Yes, but we feel to have known each other far longer.”
“I see. Well, I imagine that happens with profound mental impairment.”
“Oh, I don’t think Mister Dooven’s remotely impaired.”
“I was referring to you.”
“I know,” said Christabelle, before giving a pitying look. “I thought sarcasm was something you specialised in, Miss Lydia. I’m disappointed to discover that I have a greater sense of it than you.” She sat back and admired some beautifully manicured claws. “But perhaps the Daily Spoon has blown things somewhat out of proportion. Their articles do tend to be on the flattering side.”
Having not expecting rebuttal, Lydia fell silent and waited for her innate viciousness to arrive and start making casualties. “Tell me, are those earrings real?” said said, “because they look like fleas.”
There was a dainty laugh. “Really, Miss Lydia. Is that the best you can do? I expected more from someone so apparently exotic. Mind you, I can understand your lacklustre efforts, as animals here do tend toward the simplistic. I, however, do not, which I’m certain comes as some surprise.”
Another scoff. “You have no idea.” She removed some lettuce from her head as though it was a foreign thing and unbelievably trendy.
Oscar returned, empty pawed.
“I thought you were getting another wheelbarrow of cooked kitchen,” said Lydia, determined to prove their comradery.
“You must be joking.” He indicated the existing one. “I didn’t even want this load.”
“Oscar ordered cuisine au charbon,” she explained to Christabelle. “It’s very exotic, though is not to everyone’s tastes.”
Christabelle smiled without actually smiling.
“Did Lydia tell you about the venue?” he asked Christabelle.
“We didn’t get that far,’ said Christabelle. “We were too busy getting to know each other.”
“Oh,” said Oscar. “And did that go well?”
“I think we both know where we stand,” said Lydia.
“She suggested the Pavillion,” said Oscar.
Christabelle’s certainty faltered. “The Pavillion?”
He nodded. “It sounds like a good idea, considering its size.” He asked Lydia, “How many does it actually seat?”
“About forty thousand.”
They both stared at her with open mouths.
“Seated, that is,” said Lydia. “If you count standing animals then it could be in the sixties.”
“Forty?” whispered Oscar, before looking vaguely at nothing.
“Thousand, yes.” She was pleased with their astonishment. “It’s not as many as it sounds, but the acoustics are excellent and the latrines are built in.”
“Built in?” said Christabelle, still overwhelmed.
“Oh, yes.” She smiled solidly. “Being intimately involved in the project, I ensured that the latrines were incorporated into the overall design for reason of basic hygiene.” She leant forward to make the point. “It’s probably a cultural thing.”
“I thought you said they poohed into gutters,” said Oscar.
“Anyway,” said Lydia, with a clap of paws that dismissed fine details, “I think it would be an excellent venue. After all, we need something that warrants not only Oscar’s extraordinary poetic talents, but maximises animals’ exposure to it. We can hardly have him ponce about—”
“I don’t ponce.”
“—on some ridiculous little stage in some hidden corner of the city. It needs to be an international event.”
“But the Pavillion?” said Christabelle, still fathoming. “I mean, are you certain, Mister Dooven?”
“I think you’ll find his friends call him Oscar,” whispered Lydia.
She ignored this. “I thought we agreed on something rather more—” She struggled for a word.
“Mediocre?” said Lydia.
“Manageable,” said Christabelle. She looked around worriedly. “I’m not certain Brian and Bernard will manage in front of an audience of forty thousand—and Mrs Spinklebottom might snuff it altogether.”
He shrugged. “Well, if she does, couldn’t we just pretend it was part of the performance?”
While Christabelle stared in astonishment, Lydia agreed it was an excellent suggestion, despite having no idea what they were talking about.
He shrugged again. “I mean, realistically, you could probably have her apartment afterwards and set up a proper laboratory with beakers and everything.”
“Well, tubing, at least.”
She shook her head in slow astonishment. “You would let Mr Spinklebottom die just to guarantee your performance?”
He glanced at Lydia uncomfortably. “Well, she’s had a good innings, hasn’t she? I mean, you found it hysterical when she tumbled down stairs.”
Lydia tutted in disappointment. “Down stairs, indeed.”
“And dying on stage is the same sort of thing, only it lasts longer.”
Christabelle stared at them both sequentially as her brain battled with concepts that she had only ever touched upon. Slowly, like the dawning of a new say, her frown of bewildered astonishment became borderline enlightened.
“But that is so naughty!” she hissed, before standing with her mind suddenly aflame. She wandered around the table as though about to frisbee it across the room. “What genius!” she cried. “What utter, unadulterated, wonderful naughtiness!”
When Lydia looked at Oscar with concern, he shrugged and admitted that she was surprisingly forward thinking for a local.
From chapter 15 of book 6, To Blunt The Sharpest Claw, the third book in the Morigan Trilogy that is pending release.