Monster Creation

I am at ICON this weekend, Iowa’s oldest science fiction convention. If you are in the Cedar Rapids area, stop by and see me. Plus there are lots of other great authors, costumers and wonderful people to see. It’s a blast. I hope to see you there.

Tonight at ten pm I will be part of a panel discussion on “monster creation.” When I first saw the schedule, I couldn’t quite figure out what I was supposed to say about that. I don’t have monsters in my books, I have characters.

And that’s just it. They key to creating believable “monster” creatures is that they aren’t really monsters. They are just characters. They have their own needs, wants and desires. They have a personality of their own. A race or group of creatures are going to share certain traits, but they are also going to be individuals as well. That is how you write monsters.

The panel will also look at authors that put a new twist on an old idea, and I both do and don’t do that in the Bear Naked series. As much as I love werewolf books, I swore I would never write one. It’s all been done, for one thing. There are hundreds of others. Why should I add to the cacophony?

But there are aspects of werewolves that other authors haven’t covered. In ancient norse mythology certain people are “shape-strong” and can take animal forms. Wolves, check. Bears, check. and Otters. Otters? Yes it’s quite common in the old myths. Otr is a dwarf that plays a huge role in the Volsunga saga and can take the form of an otter.

Nobody has written a werewolf book with otters in it. How would being an otter shape-shifter change your perspective? Wolves are warriors, fierce and strong. Bears are strong, solitary creatures. Otters can be fierce at need by they aren’t an overt warrior culture. They live in small, tight knit groups. They are quite different from the other shifters.

The more I thought about this, the more I knew I had to write a series that contained otters as side characters. And now that I have released the third Bear Naked book, The Hunted, I’m glad I did.

The Hunted

The beauty of panels is that as we discussed the issues with other authors and readers is that you think of new things, or look at things in new ways. If you want to see that for yourself, just stop by the panel. It should be fun.

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