Mother’s Day in the UK, I just want to say…

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I992 was the last time I wished my mum a Happy Mother’s Day. I look at her here and think of the life she was yet to lead against the backdrop of times she never dreamed were coming. Yes, marriage, two children, three grandchildren. But also war, a husband who joined up despite a reserved occupation and also later served in Korea and Suez. There were places like Hong Kong, that being a Dundee lassie from ‘the tap o’ the hill’, she would never have dreamed of living in. Lately I keep wondering what she’d have made of all this. And then I remember one thing, growing up, despite other world crises, despite whatever came her way, she never blinked in terms of how she faced her children. Happy Mother’s Day to all mums today, wherever you are and however you are celebrating.

Kate Furnivall and the Guardian of Lies.

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Kate. Oh Bobby Bub, I bet that grandpappy of yours was a right royal rogue in the 1950s. A damn handsome fellow of course like yourself and with the same penchant for stylish headgear, no doubt.

But to be honest, the reason I chose the year 1953 for my book was that it was a year when the future of Europe was balanced on a knife edge.

And yes, you’re right, it is the latest period I have chosen as a setting for a book – but it is a moment in history that fascinates me. The start of the Cold War. A crisis point of tension and danger when Americans and Russians were at each other’s throats as they battled for nuclear dominance. I was transfixed when I delved deeper and discovered just how close that apocalypse came to exploding into life in the beautiful marshy plains of the Camargue region in south-west France,

But there was another trigger for the inspiration behind this book – that of the bonds that hold a family together in the face of a conflict that is driving them apart. At the heart of The Guardian of Lies I explore the bond between a brother and sister. My own older brother passed away several years ago but I still think of him daily, and it is this brother-sister relationship that kept intruding into my mind each time I picked up my pen to write.

This is the story of a young French woman, Eloïse Caussade, who tries to track down the Soviet agent who attempted to murder her brother in a car crash in Paris. But nothing is as it seems, so she leaves Paris to return to her father’s bull farm in the Camargue where her brother is recuperating from his injuries. There she finds herself trapped between two worlds that are on a collision course. One is the quiet rural life that is the world she believes she has outgrown and to which her childhood friend Léon still belongs. The other is the tense and dangerous existence of those caught up in the Cold War between America and Soviet Russia, a world in which lies, spies and murder entwine to drag Eloïse into their dark web. She cannot ignore the blood in the barn or the fire in her father’s stables. Her family is being targeted and she has to find the killer. But she has a lot to learn about herself and with the help and love of her friend Léon, who is now the local police chief, she battles to discover the truth. The Guardian of Lies is a fast-paced thriller but also a powerful love story.

Kate. Who says it isn’t? I admit I didn’t actually bump into any while I was cruising Arles’ colourful market for the gorgeous local lavender soap, but I know you hamsters are cunning critters and might have been lurking in the shadows, watching my every move. After all, The Guardian of Lies is a spy thriller, right? While I was checking out the bars in the back streets of the ancient city – in the interest of research of course – and watching local artists at work at their easels, I swear I could hear the scurrying of scratchy little feet over the cobbles and tiny French voices squeaking about world domination. La domination du monde.

So don’t give me this guff about “it ain’t home to hamstahs”. I got ears.

 

Kate.  Well, yes, that’s easy. I confess that I do set my stories in countries that I’d love to visit on a research trip. So far I’ve used China, Russia, Singapore, the Bahamas, Italy, France, Germany and Egypt (which included an awesome ride in a hot-air balloon at dawn over the desert) as the backdrop for my books. Oh, how I suffer for the sake of my art! But I have a mighty hankering to see more of Africa. You know, I’ve never been on an African safari and I’ve always wanted to do so.

That would be quite some research trip, to get to view the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo – in their natural habitat would be truly mesmerising. Unforgettable. I’m sure I could weave a thrilling story around a moment of conflict over land and resources within the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. Ivory poachers. Political corruption. Loss of natural habitat. Romance and murder against a ticking clock as they fight to save the elephants. Bring it on. Maybe even a colony of hamsters endangered by the waste disposal of a local chemical plant. Hey, Bobby Bub, how about coming out to do the research with me?

 

Kate . Yes, definitely. Look at us. One of my major inspirations for The Guardian of Lies was my terror at what I see happening in the world today. We are in the grip of another Cold War between America and Russia, though now they fight their battles on the bloody land in the Middle East, not on American or Russian soil. The fingers of seeming psychopaths hover dangerously close to nuclear buttons.

The threat is ever present, so I wanted to take a look back to a time in 1953 when the world was on the brink of a nuclear war between Soviet Russia and America, when both countries were frantically trying to amass information on each other’s military secrets and nuclear developments.

Spies and counter-spies lurked in every walk of life, in government, industry, laboratories and education. They were everywhere. Sound familiar?

This atmosphere of suspicion, lies and fear only intensified in 1953 when the USA decided to construct a series of eleven nuclear air bases in France to create a formidable line of defence/attack against the Soviet threat. This struck me as a fascinating and revealing moment of brinkmanship that we should be examining closely now. I believe an important part of the job of a historical writer is to make the past more accessible to today’s readers. To offer them the chance to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us. I hope this book will encourage people of today to take a closer look at those into whose hands we place immense power. To think again. And to demand a safer world to live in.

Kate  Well, now, BB, what a humdinger of a trip this is going to be! Get your shades on and don’t forget your cute shorts, because it gets hot down there. We’d start with fancy croissants and a few laps of the pool at our beautiful old hotel, L’Hotel du Forum, in the ancient heart of the city of Arles. What? You’re not a swimmer? You don’t like getting your fur wet! I thought all hamsters could swim, but okay, I get it, you’re not a lemming. Calm down. Let’s head out instead to explore the magnificent Roman remains that are the focus of the city.

 

The massive Roman amphitheatre is the place to start. It’s breathtaking. It was built in 90 AD with seating for over 20,000 spectators to watch the chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. I can picture you clashing swords with Gladiator Hamstah Dickens in the arena with blood-curdling yells. And then we’d wander down to admire the beautiful brickwork on the Roman bathhouse and take to the stage in the Roman theatre, where we could act out a romantic scene from Antony and Cleopatra.

After that let’s take a breather at the gorgeous little Van Gogh café in the shady Place du Forum. The artist Vincent van Gogh used to hang out there and made it famous by creating a wonderful night-time painting of it.. We’ll down a glass or two of vino and a platter of plump Camarguais olives, then we’ll head off on safari in an open Land Rover to explore the unspoiled marshland of the Camargue, a protected area that is stunning. Here the white horses and the scary black bulls roam wild among the tamarisk tress and the saltwater lagoons. But watch out for the mozzies – they’re nearly as big as the bulls. The area is bursting with abundant birdlife – white egrets, plovers and avocets – which we can observe through binoculars.

What’s that you say? You can’t find binoculars to fit your cute button nose?

Aw, don’t fret. Instead we’ll take a romantic stroll around the water’s edge of the étangs just as the evening sun is sinking and the pools seem to catch fire. We can watch hundreds of skinny-legged flamingos lifting into the air with unexpected grace, a ribbon of pink and black trailing across the vast sky as they leave their feeding grounds to roost for the night.

 

Ready for something to eat? Okay, it’s back to Arles for dinner at the superb Hotel Jules César – a 7th century ex-nunnery – its décor all dolled up now in bright knock-your-eyes-out Christian Lacroix colours. (Arles was Lacroix’s home town.) Fancy a cocktail? Champers with apple brandy? Great choice. Then I recommend their fab signature dish of Risotto de Langoustines, followed by a Crêpe Soufflé au Grand Marnier. To die for! And if you fancy kicking up your heels, tossing aside your jolie French beret and dancing the rest of the night away, there’s always the Irish pub which has live music and vino till you drop. Santé!

Sleep well. Tomorrow we’ll start with a river trip on the mighty Rhône …..

It’s been great chatting with you guys today and I can’t wait to read the great opus that will one day emerge from the Master. Thanks for having me over and for not scaring the hell out of me this time. Hugs to ya, BB. xx

*** The top ten bestselling author ***
Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.
1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

 

A page turner I didn’t want to finish, is probably the best way to sum up this book set in France in the Cold War. A world of Communism, Capitalism, murder and espionage, both sides of the two coins presented centre stage, without preachifying, but with the rock of the Camargue standing like a magnificent bulwark, a character in its own right, untameable as the horses that roam it, a shaper of those who live on it. Eloise is such a character. Paris may have gotten into her blood, the Camargue is in her soul. As for what’s in her brother Andre’s soul? Well, that is what we are unravelling. Exactly who is he working for? And what will happen next because of it? Such is Kate Furnivall’s skill that little trails of breadcrumbs suggest things about Andre and many of the other major players, but that bit rightly waits for the finale. The skill doesn’t end there. From the street café in Arles, to the roadside trees, the prose is rich in an imagery that never swamps. Nor does the pacing flag. For me this book opened a window on a post war Europe fight I knew little about and I’m glad that it did. I consider it one of the author’s finest.

All in the game with Catherine Cavendish

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Scary Games Your Mother Never Warned You About by Catherine Cavendish

 

Many of us – especially horror fans – enjoy a good scare.

It’s all healthy fun, isn’t it?

Well, it can be but… as my characters discover in Garden of Bewitchment, some games or toys are best left well alone. We’ve all heard of the infamous Ouija board but here are three games to try out that you may never have heard of, or perhaps they are variations of ones you have played when fuelled by slightly more wine than is good for you. These three can all be played by yourself – in fact you must be alone for the last one.

Ready? Then let’s begin with…Bloody Mary

You’ve probably seen this one in a film or two and it’s one you can play alone – if you dare. Simply go into your bathroom, lights off and door closed, but with one lit candle. Face the mirror and say ‘Bloody Mary’ (inject some Karloff-like atmosphere into it). Repeat twice more. Now stare hard into the mirror. You’ll see her standing behind you…or…she will scratch you…or…she will drag you into the mirror and trap you there forever.

On second thoughts, probably best to have someone with you. They can help pull you out.

Baby Blue

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Another one you can play alone. If you’re successful with this one, a baby will manifest right there in your arms. It’s just… well, you remember Rosemary’s Baby, right?

Here’s how it goes: Off you go into the bathroom (strange how many of these games work best in the bathroom isn’t it? Maybe it’s the condensation). Lights off and door closed again. No candle this time though. You should be in pitch darkness. Look into the dark mirror and cradle your arms as if you were nursing a baby. Say ‘Baby blue, baby blue’ a total of 13 times and you will then feel the weight of a baby in your arms. Once that happens, you need to flush the creature down the toilet. Act fast before a woman manifests herself in the mirror and screams at you to give her baby back. Fail to deposit that unholy devil child and its mother will scratch you.

Elevator Game to Otherworld

For this one, you need a fairly tall building (at least 10 floors, or 9 if you are in the UK) and an elevator. You also, if reports are to be believed, need nerves of steel and a strong constitution as the results can be dramatic and long lasting. Essentially, this game is said to open up a portal to the other world. There are a number of stages, so let’s get going.

  1. Get into the elevator on the first floor (or ground floor if you are in the UK. From now on, in the interests of simplicity I shall use the American method of counting floors. My British readers merely need to deduct one floor from each measurement!) You must be by yourself. If anyone else gets in, you’ll have to start again. Press the button for Floor 4.
  2. When the elevator reaches the fourth floor, don’t get out. Press the button for Floor 2.
  3. Don’t get out when the elevator reaches Floor 2. Press the button for Floor 6.
  4. Once again, when the elevator arrives at the sixth floor, stay inside and press the button for Floor 2.
  5. Don’t get out at Floor 2. Press the button for Floor 10. There have been reports that, on arriving at the second floor at this stage, people have heard voices calling them. Whatever you do, don’t reply or make any kind of response.
  6. At the tenth floor, stay inside the elevator and press the button for Floor 5.
  7. There have been reports that a woman may enter the elevator at Floor 5 and she may try to engage you in conversation, even though you know you have never met before. It could be a mere pleasantry. It will seem perfectly innocent. It isn’t. Don’t respond or in any way acknowledge her presence or remarks. Stare at the floor, the ceiling, the lift buttons, anything but her.
  8. Press the button for the first floor. At this point, the elevator will either do what you request – in which case, get out at the first floor, and leave the building. On no account look back. You were not meant to visit Otherworld today. If, however, the elevator ignores your command and takes you up to the 10th floor, you may choose to get out. If you are presently sharing the elevator with a woman who entered on the fifth floor, she will probably ask you where you are going. Again, ignore her. Do not respond by word or gesture, or she will probably accompany you and you will have the devil’s own task of getting rid of her. In fact, it is highly likely that she will take possession of you.
  9. You will know you have arrived at Otherworld if the only person in it is you.
  10. When you decide to return, you must use the same elevator. Once inside, press the button for Floor 4 and then repeat steps 3-7.
  11. Once you arrive once again at Floor 5, press the button for Floor 1. The elevator will begin to ascend to Floor 10. Press a button for any other floor and do it quickly – before the elevator reaches the tenth. Provided you do this, you will cancel the ascent and you can press Floor 1 again and descend safely.
  12. Once you arrive at Floor 1, have a good look around before you get out. If anything seems wrong, repeat steps 10 and 11 and keep on until all is normal on Floor 1. You will then know you have returned to your own world.

You can see this is not a game for the faint-hearted. In fact, it is my belief you would have to be pretty crazy to attempt it. Before you do, read this account of what happened when the instructions weren’t full adhered to. If this doesn’t put you off, nothing will, so good luck and I’ll hope to see you on the other side.

https://thoughtcatalog.com/anonymous/2016/12/i-played-the-elevator-game-and-i-did-it-wrong-the-woman-followed-me-back/

Don’t play the game.

 

In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.

 

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About the Author

Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter – an Empire Smith Corona. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.

 

The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels and novellas, including The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, Damned by the Ancients – The Devil’s Serenade, Dark Avenging Angel, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and Linden Manor. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Haunted Are These Houses and Midnight in the Graveyard.

 

She lives in Southport with her longsuffering husband and black cat (who remembers that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt and sees no reason why that practice should not continue).

 

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys rambling around stately homes, circles of standing stones and travelling to favourite haunts such as Vienna and Orkney.

 

Catherine Cavendish

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Cornwall. A separate place. Location in writing.

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The Historical Cornish Environment—a land of Smugglers and Secrets …

 

A separate people. Throughout the early modern period, many Cornish people continued to regard Cornwall, not as an English county, but as a British country, called Kernow. … ‘

‘Physical isolation provides the key to Cornish history. A rocky peninsula, jutting out some 90 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall stands at the extreme south-western corner of the British Isles. Surrounded by waves on all sides but one, it is practically severed from the adjoining lands to the east by the River Tamar, which runs almost from sea to sea. Although mediaeval Cornwall was – technically speaking – an English county just like any other, the culture of the ordinary Cornish people remained entirely different from that of their English neighbours. They still spoke in the Cornish tongue: a language, closely allied with Welsh. They still prided themselves on being descended from British ancestors, rather than Saxon ones. And, as late as the mid-16th century, they still possessed their own styles of dress, their own folklore, their own naming-customs, their own agricultural practices and their own games and pastimes.’

So the past economy of Cornwall might have been based on a range of industries, including metal mining, fishing, china clay production, wool cloth manufacture, quarrying and ship building. Indeed Cornwall’s rich mineral resources may certainly have been exploited on a large scale since medieval times and rows may rage today between surfers, environmentalists and those bent on lifting the tin tailings sitting on the sea bed to be used in gadgets like phones and computers, Cornwall is also known, historically for another ‘industry’. A sort of ‘cottage’ one in that rather a large number of its inhabitants were involved. And one that the landscape and environment lent itself to naturally. Smuggling.

But the location as described above, the fact the people saw themselves as different weren’t the only things to lend themselves to the trade. Parts of the actual coastline were very nicely placed for trips to France and the Scillies. Then there was the nature of the terrain, vast empty beaches, rocky caves, jutting headlands, little better than cart tracks for roads—and, as a quick glance at any map of Cornwall will show, quite a big expanse of moor sitting smack in the middle, while the inhabited bits cluster round the coast. It was nicely private all right.

 

At its peak, an estimated 500,000 gallons of French brandy per year were smuggled into Cornish coves. Smuggling has many stereotypes and these images often include a small group of men unloading barrels in the night. However, until the early 1800s it was a highly organized, well financed business that was run on very efficient lines.

Of course the reason for all this unhindered smuggling wasn’t just the highly organized locals, it was the weakness of the excisemen, although in their defence, the level of local support, the sheer organizational skills of those involved, which frequently included the clergy, the landowners, in fact, you name it, and the overwhelming numbers of those involved, made it quite impossible, even for the most dedicated exciseman, to police. So a lot went right on under their noses, in broad daylight.

“They were told that if they persisted in trying to make an arrest they would have their brains blown out. As the law now stands, I fear a criminal prosecution would have been useless for the reason, which it shocks me to mention, that a Cornish jury would certainly acquit the smugglers….These, my lord, are the facts.”

Did the tramp, tramp of smugglers’ feet, the alleged digging of tunnels from houses, damage the rock, the wild flowers, the beach grasses, the environment? I have no idea. But, since reading books set there and further along the south coast, I felt the ruggedness, the isolation, the sometimes crumbling decay of their own lives, that drove people into this world, might lend itself to a book someday. And it has. Finally. Set not only in Cornwall but at a point when the government was beginning to fight back and seriously crackdown by every means at their disposal.  I hope this book trailer roughly explains it.

https://youtu.be/eAumGBY07mE

Plenty Slainte in 2020

United States, India, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Spain, France Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Australia, Ireland, Chile, Greece, Nepal, Jamaica, Brazil, Argentina, Malaysia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Pakistan, Norway, Dominican Republic, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, Kenya, Finland, Bangladesh, Jersey, Mauritius, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Bahrain, Netherlands, Reunion, Northern Mariana Islands, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Malta, Croatia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic.

I just want to thank each and everyone of you who has visited the little dudes from all these corners of this planet we share. The decade leading up to 2010 was difficult at times. The last ten years to this one have been wonderful ones. There were grandbabies to welcome, daughters to see married, houses to move, mountains to climb, books to write.  One of my joys has also been getting to know so many of you all from all these places because looking down the list of  these countries there’s been visitors here from, I am touched and humbled.

So here’s to all of you. Plenty Slainte in 2020. See you on the other side.

In which Lady Fury goes manga…

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Lady Fury. It’s Fury you little creeps. And if you think I am sharing my treasured fudge recipe from my treasured kitchen, you have another thought coming. A big one.

Lady Fury. Only something Shehanne got me involved in without the common decency to serialise me first.

Lady Fury. But since this has to do with being on Kindle Unlimited till February, we will say nothing.

Lady Fury. Except that we are going last.

Lady Fury. Indeed Shey having examined her two remaining contracts held by a publishing house, and seeing she owns the subsidiary rights, I may well even be going behind Malice and Brittany which is beyond shocking if I say so myself. You would have thought she’d have held off in order to let me go first. May I just say however you have no idea how hard it is having such a selfish author. But I will say that … Manga? Well, this is how books are often read in the Asian market, where Amazon is not a big deal. Buying and electronically reading each chapter as it becomes available is, so it is of course, when you consider the size of the Asian market, a golden opportunity for me to be read…and did I mention fan/reader forums? No. Well it is also an opportunity for me to be discussed there.

Lady Fury.   Yes. And given the company Shehanne has signed with expanded a few months ago have just moved into taking onboard Western romance, so in that respect I suppose it was no bad move on her part to consider this venture on my behalf, especially as the rights that were signed for are the non-exclusive ones on the five books she holds the rights to.

Shehanne. That’s very gracious of you to say so, Fury. What I would like to add, if I may be so bold as to get in a word here,  is that as authors we are always looking for new markets, chasing the reader, the event party, keeping up with social media, etc. etc. and this was one market I was not only unaware of but one that shows the importance of aiming your work, in the first place,  at a particular market.  

Shehanne. Apart from the above? Probably being open and willing to look at new horizons, especially one that does the marketing and pays a good rate of royalties, one where you’ve nothing to lose by signing the contract offer actually.  Then you need to break the books into chapters. Again this market isn’t much interested in shorts. All novels must be over 50 thou words and there must be over 50 chapters — when you break it down that is. So each chapter has to be no less that 1000 words and no more than 2000. It’s meant  a small bit of adding some words here and there, say when a ‘section’ was coming in at fifty words short or it was possible to break 2900 into three chapters by adding that extra 100 or so. Also, where there’s a series, they put the books out as one big follow on volume, so suddenly you are typing a chapter 125 heading because you start the chapter headings for the second book after the last chapter of the first book. But that’s been it and once you get going it’s not that hard to do. I have always preferred to write in shorter sections anyway than muckle great chapters because I have worked in graphic comics.

Lady Fury. Oh God, Please. For the sake of common decency. No.

Shehanne. You never know. A hamster can but hope. For Christmas presents too…

 

A Great Day for Hamsters

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A Great Day for Hamsters by P. J Lazos

On September 10, 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the EPA’s plan to dramatically reduce its reliance on animal testing when researching and determining the efficacy of new drugs, pledging that the Agency would end animal testing by 2035.  How will EPA do this?  By denying funding requests for mammal studies.  While animal rights groups love the idea, the enviros and public health populations are not so sure.

Animal testings involves using a live subject — a mouse, fish, rabbit, hamster, guinea pig or regular pig, a chimpanzee, even a Mayfly — to test a new drug, pesticide, cosmetic, or other product for safety and efficacy before testing it on humans. About 26 million animals lend themselves, without consent (obvi), to animal testing each year in the U.S. alone, a practice that started as early as the 4th century BCE with the Ancient Greeks.

Animal testing is such a difficult topic. I love my furry friends just as much as Lady Shey loves her hamsters and can’t imagine them being used for testing, but what about the alternative?

For the Ancients, the alternative was humans or nothing.  But we’re no longer ancient and we have centuries of information at our disposal, right?  After reading the pros and cons, I’m convinced that banning animal testing is the way to go.

So, my Hamster Dudes, pull up your little chairs, grab a drink and a snack (although some of what I recount may discourage your appetite), put on your little reading glasses, and settle in. I hope this list doesn’t upset you too much, little Dudes, but if so, try to remain composed.

A roundup of conflicting viewpoints:

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When we first started out a gazillion years ago, we knew little of anatomy, biology, chemistry and the like, but as the years progressed, the great scholars and artists started taking notes. Michelangelo, one of the greatest sculptors and painters of the Italian Renaissance would sneak into the morgue in the Monastery at Santo Spirito in Florence in the middle of the night and dissect human bodies as a way to inform his art.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1279184/  Today, almost everything we know has been uploaded into a data base somewhere that we can all access, meaning much of the original groundwork is covered, meaning we don’t need to dissect bodies in secret.

Some people believe that by eliminating animal testing we will make our drugs less safe and that using animals to test drugs provides a live specimen rather than a model, leading to breakthroughs in developing new machines and technology that otherwise wouldn’t be discoverable with modeling alone. As a result, many technological advances such as scanners, pacemakers, and surgical techniques were first developed using animals.

In addition, the living body is not just a bunch of disjointed parts working independently. It’s a well-oiled, amazingly integrated machine, the gestalt of which is far greater than the sum of its parts.  Often researchers will induce systems in animals so they can study the various effects of a drug on a disease that otherwise would be difficult to study.  Working on live specimens helps the researcher understand the effect on the entire body in addition to what a single drug does for a single ailment.

Our pets share many illnesses with their humans such as hardening of the arteries, diabetes, cataracts, cancer, and more which makes them good test subjects. I wonder though — is it because they are forced to eat the same crappy food as we humans, devoid of nutrients and loaded with disease-causing additives like high fructose corn syrup, or is it some kind of sympathy sickness?  Also, if a drug is shown to be efficacious on animals it doesn’t mean it will work on humans. In fact, 94% of drugs that got the green light because of animal testing failed in human clinical trials.

In almost half of the cases, animal studies don’t predict the human outcome. As computers and artificial intelligence advances, the opportunities to experiment with computer-generated, non-living creatures increases exponentially.

Consider this: In the book, “Let the Dog Drive” a car manufacturer uses living dogs to crash test vehicles.  Check it out.  It was a real thing and not just a work of fiction:

https://www.peta.org/blog/25-year-anniversary-peta-ends-car-crash-tests-on-animals/  I mean — cruel!  Not to mention that it falls squarely in the “researchers who deliberately mistreat animals” category.  Eww!  Conversely, those same animals saved some poor humans the pain of crashing-sans-testing!

Animal testing is more expensive, is not a stable predictor, and the test results are more often inaccurate than correct; plus it follows the old ways rather than embracing new technology. Instead, why not study cells under a microscope?  A whole pharmaceutical industry was built doing business this way.

To encourage scientists to abandon animal testing in favor of more benign experiments, EPA is offering $4.25 million in grants to five universities in the hopes that they can come up with safe alternatives. I wish the EPA and the partnering universities success in this endeavor.

The Buddhists believe that all life is sentient which means even the mayflies whose life cycle is all of one day can “feel” something. Perhaps it’s time to quit animal testing and practice on non-sentient beings like computers.  The results will be greater and far more specific.  After all, don’t we need to give super computers something to do?  We have the technology.  We can do this thing without harming a hair on those furry little hamster heads.

The Dudes can take a deep relaxing breath now because the EPA is on their side. Just make sure you guys stay out of the lab between now and 2035 and you’ll be fine.

Good luck out there.

P. J. Lazos is the author of the novel Oil and Water, about oil spills and green technology, and of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas; a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia; on the Board of Advisors for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (U of Penn); a member of the Jr. League of Lancaster; a former correspondent for her local newspaper (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal now LNP); a literary magazine contributor (Rapportage); an editor; a ghostwriter; an author of a children’s book (Into the Land of the Loud); an environmental lawyer; and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily.