Kim Falconer, author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series tells us how she created one of her races - The Lupins!
Creating Lupins from Scratch
In my science fantasy series there are familiar things like gum trees, white sand beaches, galloping steeds and oat cakes with raisins. There are characters who remind us of people we know, and people we wish we could know really well. Telling a story with recognizable terrain makes for strong immersion, guiding lights for the reader to steer by my stories don’t stop there. In the Quantum Enchantment Series and in Quantum Encryption, there are creatures unique to my worlds of Earth and Gaela. There are temple cats, Were-fey and, most specially, Lupins.I am well aware of the adage write what you know, but in the case of the Lupins, (from the Latin wolf) such a notion doesn’t fly. After all, I don’t write how-to manuals or cookbooks. I write speculative fiction where the goal is to speculate! But no one on Earth can know what a were-beast, portal between the worlds or post apocalyptic witch is really like until they are created from the blank page. Sometimes that process can be a challenge so I’ve put together a recipe for those who’d like to know.
A grain of truth
Love (the head over heels kind)
1) Start with the grain of truth. No matter how wild and farfetched the story, it begins with a grain of truth. This is what you build on and what will give your prose more weight. It’s all about the speculation, yes, but begin with something ‘real’.
2) Take the idea and grow it. How? You muse on it and let it transform organically until it has a life and a soul of its own. In the case of the Lupins, the idea was for a creature made from the love, and guilt, of a scientist. In my 21 century Earth the last grey wolf died in captivity and her DNA was frozen, stored in the ‘cryo-zoo’ where many of Earth’s creatures were ‘stored’. Luka Paree comes along and requisitions the DNA, gets funding from ASSIST and goes to work on his idea: to bring back the Grey Wolf and create a template for restoring extinct species, including human kind.
3) Add in a healthy dose of motivation. Why Grey Wolves? Because on our Earth we have exterminated this animal in Europe and until protected in North America, they were nearly wiped out. Part of the motivation to bring them back, to restore them as a member of Earth’s community, was guilt and shame for what had happened in the past, a way to make things right, in the story at least. Of course things backfire, as they tend to do in novels of the more adventurous kind.
4) Fold in meticulous research and mix the idea, the grain of truth and the motivations. In the Quantum Encryption Series, this got very interesting! As Luka Paree, the quantum geneticist who engineered the Lupins, hit an impasse (none of the spliced embryos were ‘taking’ and the surrogate Huskies remained barren) he got innovated with his own blood. Researching DNA, wolves, were-wolf mythology and those sites that propose the truth of their existence was fascinating.
5 ) Let the mixture set. This is the perfect time to seek technical advice. I contacted my friend in the States who knew someone working with endangered species. They put me onto the ‘wolf man’ and that was amazing. I also consulted colleagues writing urban fantasies involving shape-shifters and weres. Why was this important? Readers have preconceived beliefs about human-wolf hybrids, how they are created, what they look like, how they ‘shift.’ My Lupins are different and I had to know what people might be assuming so I could make sure they understood the rules for Lupins.
6 ) The final ingredient is love, yes, the head over heels kind. It is actually as much a part of the process of creation as it is an ingredient. To make it ring true, love what you do!
What do you think of the Lupins? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, while supplies last, anyone who comments will receive 6 personally signed bookplates from me.