Thursday, 9 February 2017

Fantastic Creatures

 Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

Fantastic Creatures Post 40
Just as Drummond (Post 30) was a kind of hybrid between a picture book (A4 with coloured pictures)  and a novel (lots more text than a picture book) so Fantastic Creatures (2009) is a kind of hybrid between a picture book and an encyclopaedia of myth.

Mythical creatures have long been an interest of mine, and occupied a fair bit of my childhood reading. On book I remember particularly was called Toby and the Odd Beasts by Netta Syrett. It was published in 1921, and I think it belonged to my mother. I have it filed in my memory along with an autobiography by Shirley Temple, written when she was a little girl, so I probably found them at around the same time. The good thing about extensive childhood reading of all sorts of books with a huge side order of encyclopaediae is that when I decide to write something about one of "my" subjects I don't have to do much research. It's all there in my head. With real-world information I'd have to check facts because some beliefs, theories and observations have been superseded, but mythical creatures depend heavily on impressions and emotional response.

I wrote the entries in mock mediaeval style, just for fun, and spent quite a bit of time in consultation with an editor about which creatures to put in. In the end, we went with the standards of dragons, unicorns, mermaids, werewolves, centaurs and vampires, and included other less-known beasts such as basilisks and trolls.

The illustrations are strongly coloured, and vary in form from pictures like tapestries or stained-glass windows to a comic-strip style. They have a humorous edge in the details; for example, the vampire has a teddy bear which has - well - fangs. Again as with Drummond, there was a lull in the illustrations, and then a pause while covers were tested. The original idea for the cover is shown below.

 Below that is a page of samples of the creatures. I think Fantastic Creatures ( isbn 

9780864617293 ...)

is out of print now, but the occasional copy turns up on the 'net. 

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 

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