Petspiration for Just Might Work
When one of the protagonists in a romance is an animal-loving veterinary student, it's pretty much obligatory for the story to feature at least one adorable pet. Just Might Work has not one but two super cute (depending on which character you ask) animals gracing its pages. For today's release week event, I'm sharing some of the inspiration images for both Mimi and Jelly bean.
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Mimi is a pink axolotl, and if you've never heard that word in your life, you're not alone. I fell in love with these goofy looking creatures after seeing a picture of one for the first time a couple years ago. I knew someone like Evangeline in Just Might Work would be likely to have an unorthodox pet to go along with her love for animals of all kinds.
Jelly Bean is a Evangeline's red rag doll cat. He's a big cuddler with Evangeline, but Dane is decidedly not on his good side at the start of the story. I loved writing about their dysfunctional interactions and the way they eventually find some common ground (hint: it might have something to do with their eventual shared love for Evangeline).
Here are some petspiration images from the book's pin board ( I'll be sharing more about the board in a future post!):
And here's a little sneak peak of the first time Mimi is introduced in the story, featuring a sassy appearance from Jelly Bean:
After stuffing my hat, gloves, and scarf into the basket labelled with my name in the entryway closet—label courtesy of one Evangeline Hudson—I trudge up the stairs to seek some warmer socks, swerving around a still-hissing Jelly Bean on the way.
The library door is pulled shut, which means my roommate is not spending her Sunday on campus like she usually does, but her bedroom door is halfway open. I pause just outside the doorframe and poke my head inside to get a glimpse of Evangeline’s other pet.
Mimi is floating around in her tank like the goof she is, her wide mouth gaping and her little webbed feet floating at her sides.
I didn’t even know what an axolotl was until Evangeline turned up on moving day with a tank housing a bright pink, salamander-like creature that had a face straight out of a cartoon. It took me a full two days to actually believe Mimi was real and not some kind of Pokémon figurine.
Now I sneak into Evangeline’s room from time to time to take pictures of Mimi, which probably makes me a bad roommate, but I have never met a more photogenic amphibian in my life.
“Hey, you derp,” I whisper-yell across the room, even though I’m not entirely sure she has ears. “How are ya, pinky?”
Her beady black eyes continue to stare at nothing, her whole expression perfect fodder for a ‘no thoughts, head empty’ meme.
I glance back over my shoulder at the library door. I can hear the muted sounds of a woman’s voice, the noise a little tinny, like it’s coming from a speaker.
She’s probably listening to the fairy porn again, which might give me enough cover to get a few shots in. I pad over to my room, side-stepping the parts of the floorboards I know creak the loudest, and start hunting around for the right lens.
The rest of my room is messier than I’d like, but my camera gear is arranged in such immaculate order even Evangeline would be impressed. My black curtains are still drawn over the windows, muting the last of the evening light coming in off the street, but I could identify all my lenses even in complete darkness. I pull open one of the deep drawers in the battered dresser I scored off a street corner and close my hand around the macro lens I have in mind.
My camera body is in the top drawer, and I fish it out to click the lens into place after unscrewing the cap. The body has seen better days, but I want to save enough to get the very best when I buy a new model, so I’ve been making do. I sling the gel-padded strap over my neck after I’ve got everything set up and then creep back into the hall.
My room is right across from the library, and I pause to make sure there’s no sound of Evangeline moving around. I can still hear the narrator droning on, the sound too muffled for me to make any of the words out, but I do hear Evangeline when she says, “Damn, okay, Prince Feynor. Well-played, you bad boy.”
I have to stifle a laugh. She must really have no idea I’m home if she’s talking to herself. Sometimes she gets so caught up in a book it’s like she enters an alternate dimension and forgets all about the world. Once in a while, she’ll start whispering or even yelling at the characters when she’s curled up on the couch in the living room, and then she’ll get all embarrassed when I pop in from the kitchen to see what’s going on.
For a girl who seems to thrive on battering the people around her into her obsessively organized lifestyle, she can get surprisingly self-conscious sometimes, and it’s surprisingly cute when she does. She turns as pink as Mimi when she’s embarrassed, and it makes me want to photograph her just as bad.
I inch along the edge of the hallway, camera in hand, and then slip past her bedroom door. Mimi is still floating around like a blissed-out suburbanite on holiday in Mexico. I walk over to the tank set up across from Evangeline’s perfectly made bed, complete with about seventeen throw pillows and one of those pointless skinny throw blankets adorning the end.
“Greetings, fishy friend,” I murmur as I switch the camera on and adjust a few settings.
Sometimes I’ll catch myself thinking about shutter speeds and apertures when I don’t even have my camera with me. It’s like having a specialized micro chip in my brain; I see some nice lighting, and I know exactly what combination of numbers I need to create the perfect image.
The fluorescent tube behind Mimi’s tank does not provide optimal lighting vibes, and with night all but fallen outside the small window in Evangeline’s room, the shots probably won’t even be worth it, but I can’t resist that ridiculous axolotl face.
She might not be a human model, but any practice is good practice for my as-yet-non-existent photography business. I’ve worked with my fair share of humans too, mostly girls dreaming of starting modelling careers who need to fill their portfolios, which works out great since I need to fill mine too. I spend the hours I’m not out chasing down temporary money-making gigs with Jonah taking courses about running a small business and fine-tuning my craft with every resource I can afford.
When I move back to Vancouver, I’m going to be more than the broke deadbeat running around doing odd jobs to save up for a business no one actually believes I’ll start. I’m going to have the best gear and the best shots, and I’ll spend my days in a Pacific paradise where I don’t have to worry about fitting in because I’ll finally be home again.
The years after the move will get wiped away. All the bullying in high school, all the fights with my sister, all the times my parents told me I was on a sure-fire path to amounting to nothing—everything that made me stop trying and start melting into the background just to escape. It will all be a memory and nothing more, just a photo to fold up and forget.
The shutter snaps closed, but I don’t even bother looking at the preview that shows up on the camera’s screen. I already know it’s a blurry mess. I really need a tripod in this light, but I’m not about to risk another trip down the hall.
“Better,” I mutter as Mimi flicks her pink tail.
I get a couple more shots in before a rumbling growl makes me jump. I whip my head around in time to see Jelly Bean leap up onto the bed. He glares at me with his back arched.
“At least one of you likes me,” I say to Mimi.
Grab your copy of the book here!