Some writers have a specific genre or style that they love to use. For me, it really depends on what I’m writing. I love experimenting– I’m like a crazy artist playing with mediums. But some genres don’t appear to like me. For instance, if it’s modern realism, anything longer than a flash piece sort of… well… morphs into fantasy.
Fantasy ≠ modern realism. Yeah.
I have several theories as to why my unconscious writer-mind appears to be smitten with fantasy: it could be the ability to bring in flying carpets or sea monsters when things ‘go bad’, or maybe it’s the free pass to ignore the laws of physics, but most likely it’s the ability to create my own creatures.
For me, there’s nothing better than creating cool animals. As a biology geek, I love experimenting with mutations and mutualism, or just putting spins on existing creatures. It doesn’t take much to get something sufficiently weird for my taste.
Some of my favourite creatures that have cropped up in my writing:
Wolvins. These most notably appear in Aza. I guess wolvins could be classified as a mutation, but I like to think of them as wolves with a twist. They’re probably also inspired by the Grottes et Préhisto-park in Réclere, Switzerland (see Inspiration for the Forest of Monsters in Aza). In this park, they have a statue of a saber-toothed tiger with her kits. I classify wolvins as canines, but they share several characteristics with Smilodon, most notably their elongated teeth. In Aza, Wolvins were created by Lunan (the moon) to punish humanity for worshiping the Kran (literally translates from Swarto* to badness). Wolvins do this very well because they have this irritating craving for human blood.
Karkatoosh. These guys were in Aza until the third or fourth draft. It was decided that, however cool they might be, they didn’t add to the story. Karkatooshes (karkatooshi?) live in caves and are similar to cave bears. They have thick brown fur, milky-blind eyes, and ridiculously long whiskers. Combined with a cat-like head and a fox tail, the Karkatoosh is definitely a weird mishmash. It was pretty sad to cut them out. You can read the deleted scene here!
Electoads. The electoad is my newest creation. It features in my brand new novel, which I’m hoping to self-publish (or publish) in the next year or two. Invented by scientists, this futuristic creature is a hybrid between fungi and anemones. Packed full of chemicals, one can produce enough electricity to power a house–a futuristic house, where even the carpets run on electricity. Let’s just say I’m very excited about them!
Creating your own fantastical creature isn’t difficult. There are enough real wacky animals to get inspired. If you find making up your own difficult, try watching some Planet Earth, or anything else narrated by David Attenborough (every time I watch something of his, I discover animals I didn’t think could possibly exist!). Try ‘hybrid-ing’ some of Earth’s strange creations and just see what happens. As I said in this post, you can’t create anything ‘truly’ unique–everything has to be inspired by something. So don’t worry too much about copying.
Just go for it!
*Creating wacky languages is a benefit of fantasy too!