On the Topic of Monsters

Every good fantasy world needs monsters. Orcs, demons, liches – the list goes on and on. Sometimes our monsters drop our work into the “dark fantasy” category, and other times it slides all the way into “horror.”

I’ll be honest – I was never a big fan of being scared when I was younger. Monsters, ghosts, etc. got to me too much. While others seemed to find feelings of terror to be fun, I let myself be disturbed. I still do, to some extent, though today my boyfriend has a knack for getting me to join him when he’s in the mood for a good Asian horror flick (which is always) (and only if we have something from Pixar handy for afterward.)

Today I find myself drawn to the monsters that authors create. I like to explore their origins and inspirations, and to wonder why they’re effective. In my series, Children of Fire, there are monsters called charrs. They look like this:

Charrs, Children of Fire

I probably have many inspirations for the charrs, but one creature that always came to mind when I first started writing them was the ghoul from the game Dark Messiah: Might and Magic. Like I mentioned, I don’t like to be scared, but I started playing this game during a time when fear became intrigue, and so with many many pauses to psych myself up before turning the next corner, I muddled through this game (and kicked ass, I might add.) The ghouls though…ugh. They freaked me out because you hear them long before you see them, so I’d go into hide-mode and hope I could get them from a distance, or avoid them entirely.

So with the charrs, I focused on ghouls first and went from there, focusing on what I feel makes a “good” monster. You hear them before you see them, so there’s a sense of dread. They’re something like a person, but not really. I think that’s the success of zombies, honestly. They’re like us but not quite. We want to relate but we can’t, and they can’t relate to us. Finally: they’re desperate and in agony, but deadly at the same time. This plays off of the “caged animal” thing, as well as inner turmoil. I (and hopefully my readers) want to feel at least slightly guilty when the charrs come into the scene, because there’s nothing you can do either for or against them. Helplessness plays into fear.

If you’re intrigued about my world and the monsters that are in it, you can get the first installment of Children of Fire for free on Smashwords. Don’t forget to leave a review!

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