When I was young I was obsessed with many creature driven stories. Many still make my shelves groan with their weight – The Animals of Farthing Wood, Redwall, Mossflower, The Dark Portal. They were stories that inspired me, that drew me in so deeply to their creative worlds that I couldn’t put them down. They were tales of fantastic creatures living in their own little societies all around us.
I’ve never attempted to write an actual animal character driven book – though I’m realising that perhaps I should – but anyone who’s read the Inside Evil series will know that nature is an essential part of my writing. Whilst some world-builders might talk about geological formations or towering skyscrapers to create their setting, my paragraphs are filled with trees, foxes or little bugs even if they have nothing to do with the story at all. In CRYO you’ll find birds flitting around or follow Ann’s wonder as she discovers the rainforest. In Pacifier 6, as Carl makes his way through the zombie apocalypse, there are still signs of the natural world in London. In Inside Evil, however, these creatures became so much more.
I’m a complete pantser when it comes to writing, and nothing is normally planned aside from major milestones and plots. I never intended fantastic Faithful to appear between the pages and become such an important cat. The Ammokra Arbor, with its glittering moths, spun its own way out of my mind and into the novel, whilst Elrick, and subsequently Montgomery, were complete surprises. Now, as I’m writing book four, I’m realising that there’s quite a cast of creature characters within the pages of the Inside Evil series. With good and bad creatures on both side of the rift, my zoological path and childhood reading seems to have made quite an impact upon my writing without me even realising it to begin with. I wouldn’t have any of these novels without my favourite little animal friends. So much so, that I’m thinking about writing a short story set in the Middlelands with Faithful, or his ancestors, taking the lead.