Nick Oldham explains the appearance of a red deer stag in recent Henry Christie novels.
I’ve had a tendency to include the occasional wild animal in my novels, such as a gorilla (Boris), a mangy lion (Nero) and a puma (unnamed), but I never really expected a red deer (Cervus elaphus) stag (or hart) to become a recurring character in my more recent Henry Christie novels – but one has, and he’s been named Horace by Henry.
This magnificent creature has appeared in a couple of the books now and has twice had an influence on the narrative of the stories beyond Horace just being spotted and appreciated by Henry when he’s out having an early morning coffee on the steps of the Tawny Owl, the pub where he lives in Kendleton, Lancashire. You’ll have to read the novels to find out how, but there is something a little mysterious and spiritual about Horace, who is a bit of a lucky charm for Henry, even though he doesn’t realise this.
I did a little research on the Red Deer which is the largest land animal in the UK with some 350,000 roaming the Scottish highlands, but only about 12,500 in England (and only 50 in Wales) – but they do exist and can be regularly seen in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire where the fictional village of Kendleton is roughly located, although they can sometimes be mistaken for the smaller Sika deer, and quite a lot of hybridisation happens between the species.
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