Go where you find inspiration, and go there often
My previous post was about the Art Gallery Museum and the intriguing characters I uncovered in the old portrait paintings there. Now let me tell you about the incredible animals I discovered, many for the first time, at the South Australian Museum.
Some of these guys really look like they should be in a fantasy or sci-fi novel, not in the real world. For that reason, I found these animals awakened in me again the desire to write fantasy, a genre I’ve spent many years in but often abandon for “more grown-up” genres like science fiction (haha) or drama.
I spent a few hours over three days walking through the ‘Mammals of the World’ taxidermy exhibit, because I just loved it the first day, but there was so much that I just felt I hadn’t taken it all in, needed another hit.
I was pacing back and forth behind the glass, getting a bit upset that these gorgeous things were dead, just carcasses posed for my viewing pleasure, and most of the living versions were endangered anyway, when it hit me. I wanted to write fantasy animals based on these real animals. Think about it – if I describe an animal to you just using the description, not labelling it by the name we know it, it would be harder for you to imagine, wouldn’t it? You might even think I was making it up.
My first mammal looks like some medieval fantasy writer got really tired of writing ad nauseum about wolves howling at the moon and running in packs and chasing our heroes through the woods, so he elongated the nose and tale of a fox and gave it giant ears, then shrunk it to cat size, and…
BAM! Fennec Fox. (Seriously, what’s with these adorable little guys? They’re so darn cute!)
Here are some of the other animals that inspired me:
The male Audad. (Check out this guy’s beard!)
The Philippines Flying Lemur. (This is for my little brother, who is Filipino-born.)
The Nine-Banded Armadillo…
… and the Mulita Armadillo. (I just love the Mulita’s natural armour! This is him “walking away” from us, which is actually their in-built predator response.) If he was big enough, I would so want to ask him to be my mode of transportation – can you say armoured vehicle? He’s like a sci-fi tank!
The ultra-hirsute hippy (hirsute – hairy – just checking you’ve all got good vocabulary…) Binturong!
The Cacomistle – the name alone! (But even without the name, check out the big ears and stripey tail.)
Animals that can go faster than our human-made transportation systems… (I identify with these guys because I’m a sprinter; I can go fast, but try to make me run more than 100 metres, and I’m exhausted. The zombies would eat me in a heartbeat.)
Things with weird things on their faces or heads…
The Giant Anteater – from every angle, this is a crazy animal!
The Hippo (pictured with calf) lives in sub-Saharan Africa.
There are animals so fat you almost can’t believe it. But hippos are my Mum’s favourite animal because they’re so graceful underwater, almost like ballet dancers.
The Indian Porcupine – watch out! Every spine is like a javelin.
The Klipspringer – look at those horns. He just looks like he’s asking for a fight. Which isn’t scary, it’s cute, because he’s so tiny (about waist height). But if he was four times bigger – terrifying!
And if you like horns, the Lesser Kudu has these awesome twisty horns!
I saw three different types of Pangolin – the Long-Tailed Pangolin (pictured); the Malayan Pangolin; and the Larger Pangolin.
And last but not least, here’s the Wild Boar that I’ve read about in every medieval fantasy novel I’ve ever read. This guy was a lot smaller than they can grow to be (some are like Great Danes); he only came up to my knees. And thank God, too, because these guys are apparently quite vicious if provoked.
So there you have it – the marvellous variety of God’s creation! An inspiration to us all when making up or describing our own (made-up) animals.
What other crazy animals do you know of? What animal would you love to paint or write into a fantasy or sci-fi novel?
This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2014. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.