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Kim McDougall Author

What's your creature catastrophe score?

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I love animals of all kinds. Furred, feathered, scaled. It doesn’t matter. I even like the slimy ones, like frogs and snails, and the freaky ones like bats and octopuses. I’m betting that a lot of others like critters too. In fact, I bet my writing career on it because they are a major theme in my Valkyrie Bestiary books. And the reviews prove I was right.

But where do I get the ideas for all these critters and their antics? Well, some of it comes from research (Hunter the pygmy kraken is based on several articles about cephalopod antics at research aquariums). Some of it comes from personal experience. Over the years, I’ve volunteered at various animal shelters and zoos. I’ve also had just about every weird and whacky pet you can think of. And while these days, my pets have dwindled to the more traditional kind, they still get into trouble. Much trouble.

Last week, when I came down from writing at 5 p.m. to make dinner, I saw what I thought was a rat running across my kitchen floor. It turned out to be one of my daughter’s pet mice that had escaped her cage. Now queue the 7-month-old puppy and two cats. Needless to say, it was a free-for-all in my kitchen until I could wrangle the cats into the basement. By that time, the mouse had found a tiny hole in the baseboard and crawled under my kitchen cabinets. Maggie, my hell-hound-in-training, had to stay with me for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, so the two of us staked-out the hole until we could lure mousey out with peanut butter. Two hours later, all rodents were safely back in their cages. And we ordered pizza for dinner.

I give this one a 7 out of 10 on my creature catastrophe score. It would have been higher, but at least I got out of making dinner. 

Maggie had her own struggles this week. She was spayed and had to wear this drab onesie so she wouldn’t lick her incision. She hates it. What do you think? Does the outfit say nun’s habit or escaped mental patient? 

Three days after her operation, Maggie started crying for no reason, panting and fussing. Something was wrong. I thought for sure she’d popped her stitches. Of course, this was after hours on Friday night, so we made a mad dash to the ER vet where the doctor told me (in the nicest way) that there was nothing wrong and my hell-hound was just being a big wuss. Maggie was put on tranquilizers for the next three days and told “No running around!” Of course, all the doctor’s orders went out the window when a mouse got loose.

Maggie's late-night visit to the hospital gets an 9 out of 10 on the creature catastrophe scale because it's horrible to see your sweet puppy in distress.

So you can see that I don’t have to look far for inspiration for the critters in Dragons Don’t Eat Meat. Don’t be surprised if you find Kyra staking out her kitchen cabinets for a double-headed mole in her next book :) 

What kinds of creatures populate your world? What are your creature catastrophes? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below and, who knows, maybe your creatures will make an appearance in the Valkyrie Bestiary series! 

Get caught up on all of Kyra’s critter escapades in Hell Hounds Don’t Heel, book 3 of the Valkyrie Bestiary Series. Read an excerpt now...


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