Magical monsters and where you may discover them

The title of this post was my husband’s idea. We went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the other week – we’re both big Potterheads (well, he thinks he is, but he’s never read the books and in my book that doesn’t count). Afterwards, he said “I think you should write a book called Magical Monsters and Where You May Discover Them,” and then he had a good laugh at his own joke.

So, this week, we’re talking about mythical monsters and legendary creatures.

 

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My WIP, The Fair Queen, contains a fair few fantastic beasts. As with the names of many things in the novel (characters, places, etc.), the creatures are all based on British myths and legends.

I use this pin on Pinterest to help me come up with mythical creatures:

Let’s have a look at said beasties:

Banshee – a banshee is a kind of wraith, a female spirit dressed in white with a ruined face, whose scream kills by rupturing the victim’s blood vessels.

Barghest – an enormous black, dog-like beast with bone-white and razor-sharp teeth and claws. An omen of death.

Drac – a water demon, a cross between a mermaid and a sea dragon. Dracae drag victims down to the bottom of the lake, usually resulting in drowning.

Hag – a shape-shifter that appears to young men as a beautiful young woman, and to girls as a haggard old crone. They use visions to manipulate their victims into going with them, before killing them.

Nat – a twig-like creature in a symbiotic relationship with a tree. Usually harmless and peaceful, but will attack in droves to defend their territory.

Selkie – a water creature that appears as a seal-like animal under the water, but on land takes on human form. They are very seductive and manipulative, and are known to entice humans into joining them in their underwater kingdom forever.

Troll – a large, simple beast that usually keeps to itself, but when angered will attack. Not very intelligent, or skilled, but they have brute-strength on their side.

So, those are the magical creatures that appear in book one of the duology, we will probably (read: definitely) meet a few more in the sequel, The Solitary King. They all keep to the original myths quite closely, with a few small tweaks here and there. They may change slightly over the course of editing and revising, but that’s all part of the writing process!

Do you like your fantasy novels to tie into existing myths and legends, or do you prefer exciting new creations?

I hope you’re excited to see how these fantastic beasts fit into my novel and what kinds of trouble my characters get into!

What would you like to know about my WIP in my next blog? Let me know in the comments – I’m thinking ‘get to know my antagonist’, or if you have any questions you’d like answered based on what I’ve already shared.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Lyndsey

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Current word count: 59,661

Magic, myth and mystery

In my current work in progress, The Fair Queen, I have created a system of magic based on the elements.

As always, spoilers abound, so if you want to read my book (when it’s finished) without any hints then don’t read on.

 

Magic, myth & mystery

 

In the Fair Queen, there is another world within our own, called the Fair Realm, where magic exists and mythical creatures are real.

The Fair Realm and everything in it is based on British – mainly English – mythology and legends. The names of characters, towns, the creatures and their abilities – they’re all rooted in our history.

I read a few articles about creating magic systems, and there seem to be two distinct schools of thought. One prefers a very strict, rule-based magic system, and the other favours a looser, more ambiguous style. I have opted for the second one, as I think it lets the reader use their imagination more and allows a lot more flexibility for the writer.

I also think it gives the whole book a more mysterious feel, which is what I hope to do in The Fair Queen. Whilst some fantasy authors are looking to create a very fixed type of magic that readers can learn and understand, I think that fits in well in a book where the entire story takes place in a mythical land, so the two balance each other.

The Fair Queen is ultimately set in a rural town in England, and even though there is another realm within that, the majority of the elements in the story are very realistic. The only fantastical elements to the story are the magic and the mythical creatures that have come to exist as a result of it, so I felt that a loosely explained, mysterious magic system would be well anchored by the rest of the story world.

Does that make sense? I hope so!

Now that’s (somewhat) explained, I’ll tell you a bit about the actual magic…

The Fair are split into five kinds, each with a different elemental magic:

Gnome (Earth)

Sylph (Air)

Ondine (Water)

Salamander (Fire)

Celeste (Aether)

I won’t give too much away, but after a century of war, poverty and oppression, magic is actually very rare. That’s part of the mystery surrounding magic in the story, not many people even possess it. It’s become a sort of myth within itself.

There, now you know a little something about the magical people in The Fair Queen! Next time, I’ll introduce you to some of the mythical creatures that prowl the Fair Realm.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about magic systems in fantasy novels. Do you prefer your magic to have clear rules and restrictions, or do you like ambiguity so you can imagine your own limitations, if any?

Let’s chat in the comments.

Lyndsey

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Magic, myth and mystery Lyndsey's Book Blog

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Current word count: 57,364

Currently reading:

PaperbackFlawed by Cecelia Ahern

I’m really enjoying Cecelia Ahern’s first foray into YA. I have read almost everything she has written and loved most of it, so I knew I had to read this as soon as I heard she was publishing a YA novel. It took a while to get into at first, but after the first hundred pages the intensity really ramps up and the story picks up pace.

I see it as a combination of 1984 by George Orwell and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s about a dystopian society where a secondary justice system has been set up to punish flawed citizens who are not quite criminals, but have committed some kind of immoral or flawed act. It’s quite scary to think about how realistic this premise is, and in some ways I think the punishment served to the Flawed is worse than that received by actual criminals.

Check it out if you like dystopian YA. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, Perfect, when it comes out next year.

AudiobookThe Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I liked the first book in this series, but it was the second book that really got me hooked on this series and now I can’t wait to see how it concludes with The Fate of the Tearling. I won’t give too much away for those of you who haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling yet (go read it!), but basically it’s set in a sort of medieval fantasy world and centres around a young girl who was brought up in seclusion in a remote cottage, and finds out that she is the future queen of the Tearling.

The book charts her journey to the castle where she will reign, and her development from young girl to reigning monarch. It’s absolutely fascinating, and there is a host of fantastic characters as well as an intriguing magic element to the story.

Read it if you love historical fiction with a fantasy twist, but don’t expect much romance!

Meet the squad

Hello again! As promised, this time I’m going to introduce you to the characters of my work in progress, The Fair Queen. You can check out the synopsis here.

I should probably warn you now, if you don’t like spoilers you might not want to read on. I’ve tried to keep out anything major but I never know what others might class as a spoiler for my own work.

Our protagonist is the impulsive and slightly reckless Aria Colling, who is about to turn eighteen, but unlike her genius best friend Jasper, she isn’t heading off to University in the Autumn. Instead, she’s looking down the barrel of a pretty dull life in her hometown of Hartwood, working part time at the local library (I know, dream job, right? Not to Aria), and living in her parents’ bungalow.


Jasper Quinn is Aria’s best friend. They’ve known each other practically since birth, live next door, and were inseparable until Jasper’s parents sent him to the local all-boys grammar school at 11. That’s what you get for being smart, I guess. Jasper knows Aria has been in love with him for years, which is why it was so hard to tell her when they were fourteen that he’s gay. Luckily, nothing has damaged their friendship so far, but maybe going off to University and leaving her behind will be the last straw…


‘Xander’ Alexander is the mysterious black-haired and silver-eyed boy who Aria has started seeing everywhere she goes-even in her dreams. He’s the Crown Prince of one of the Five Kingdoms within the Fair Realm. A Gnome with elemental magic, the ability to control earth. He’s been watching Aria and he believes she is the long-lost daughter of the Salamander King, the subject of a twenty year old prophecy, and he wants to take her to the Fair Realm to reunite her with her father. Xander is very noble and loyal, but the strain of so much expectation and pressure does get to him at times.


Bazyl Demitree is the charming, auburn-haired boy who has also had his eye on Aria. He wants to take her to the Fair Realm and hand her over to the evil Celeste King, presumably for a hefty reward. The gang have to stay one step ahead of Demitree and his men or risk losing Aria to the enemy.


Conroy Rainer, or just Rainer, is the oldest and highest ranking-after Xander, of course. He takes on an advisory role, but ultimately bows to his prince’s wishes. Coming from a small Gnome village, Rainer is quite superstitious and believes the prophecy to be genuine. He trains Aria in secret, hoping to help her become the Fair Queen she was always destined to be and bring about the foretold peace.


Coulter Egan is the cheeky chappy whose good looks get him out of trouble every time. Second oldest of the group and in a relationship with Rainer, he keeps an eye out for them while Rainer trains Aria. A skilled archer and hunter, could there be more to Coulter’s abilities than meets the eye?


Kiefer Alexander, younger brother to Xander, is strong-willed and stubborn. Competitive and determined, he loves to challenge Coulter to hunting competitions. He’s a rebel with a heart of gold who wants justice and peace for the Gnome people.


Quade is the youngest of the group. He’s a sensitive soul who’s always getting teased by the others to get a reaction-usually successfully! His short temper often gets him into trouble.


And there you have it in a nutshell! I hope you feel like you know my characters a little better now, and hopefully can’t wait to see them in action.

I know there are a lot of dudes in the inner circle, but there are some kick-ass female characters in there too! Particularly in the sequel, The Solitary King…

Next time, I’ll let you into the Fair Realm and share a little bit about the elemental magic that my Fair characters possess.

See you then!

Lyndsey

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Current word count: 56,215