Friday, 15 June 2012


Scribble City Central's sixteenth Fantabulous Friday comes from Julia Golding, author of many wonderful children's books, including The Companions Quartet, a series very close to my heart because of its many mythological connections.

This will be the first Fantabulous Friday (though not the last) which deals with a 'made up' mythical creature - by which I mean a brand new one, straight from the author's mind.  I particularly like the idea of new additions to the compendium of mythical beasts and beings - and I think this particular beast would happily run by the side of the hrímþursar of Norse mythology.  I'll hand you over to Julia now, to tell you how her new creature came to be born.

F for Frost Wolf
Mischievous Snow Steed

JG: "How do you come up with your ideas?"

This is by a long chalk the most popular question asked of authors. The obvious answer is that it goes with the territory – if you had no ideas you should probably consider another job! It is also hard to answer. Sometimes I have a clear memory of how a character or plot came to me but more often it emerges from the fuzzy world of my imagination like an old fashioned film being developed in a chemical bath. But I do remember the Frost Wolf.

This character appears in the third part of The Companions Quartet, The Mines of the Minotaur. I took a different mythical creature to star in each part – sirens, gorgon, minotaur and chimera – but I needed a new one, a creature matched with an offbeat boy character called Rat. Which mythical creature would suit him?

I turned this question over in my mind for some time. The Frost Wolf only made its chilly presence felt thanks to my son, then about eight. We had fallen into the habit of playing a game of making up new mythical creatures. I would give an element –fire, water, earth, wind – or an animal – lion, lizard, dragon, bear – and he would have to complete it. So for example, I could say ‘bear’ and then he would say ‘Rain Bear’ and together we’d come up with ideas for where the creature would live, what powers it would have and what kind of behaviour it would exhibit.

Now I’ve just made up Rain Bear for this blog so let’s have a go. Hmm, I think a Rain Bear must live in Scotland, a haunting reminder of the days when real bears once lived there. It forms out of the swirls of raindrops on stormy days, striding across the glens and lochs, its teeth able to rip off treetops and overset boats with the slash of its claws. Its howl sounds like water gushing down a rocky streambed….

See how it works. Feel free to add your own details in the comment box.

Not all of our inventions passed muster (some were plain silly) but one day we produced together the idea of a Frost Wolf. Something like the Great Wolf of the Viking stories, it is formidable, large enough to ride, but also strangely delicate as it is created from frost and snow. It is one of the most threatened species thanks to global warning ruining its natural habitat. Obviously it is white furred – and very mischievous. If you catch a whiff of its breath you keel over and forget ever having seen it – useful for a creature that gets into lots of trouble! If you want to find out more, you can meet it in the book.

SCC:  Thank you for that tantalising glimpse, Julia, and for the insight into where he came from.  I'd love to hear what creatures the SCC readers come up with too, so do tell us in the comments box!

Next week: Linda Newbery delves into the origins of G for Green Man.  See you then! 


catdownunder said...

Rain bears have webbed feet! (I don't know how I know that but I am sure it is right!)

Anonymous said...

I imagine a rainbear would be a bit (comicly) glum, like puddleglum the marshwiggle

Nicky Schmidt said...

Oh I love the idea of a Frost Wolf!
As for a RainBear, I have visions of a creature which lives in a damp jungly rainforest environment, drinks its water from enormous leaves which act as water catchers, and eats a particularly rich but runny sort of honey...

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