I write urban fantasy. I love mixing fantasy elements with contemporary world in big and small ways. And part of my world creation is always figuring out what fantastic beasts and creatures I should pull into my works. What kind of pop culture and lore references I should use and what aspects of my world should be brand new. Deciding if my vampires should sparkle or not, basically.
Here’s the list I usually use. The fantasy creatures that are always in my go-to bag:
I’m not going to lie. Werewolves are what I love. My first thought when starting a new story is asking myself: is it going to be a werewolf story? The answer is usually YES. In fact is a book or a TV show or a movie has werewolves in it, I will probably jump at a chance to read or watch it. I mean Teen Wolf, Bitten, Underworld, Kitty Norville… I am a fan and never pass the opportunity to get back into those worlds. I’ve seen it all, I’ve read it all. Werewolves are like my comfort food, I always know what to expect and where to have fun with them. They are my comfort zone and it’s when I change something about their built or lore when I really flex my creative muscles.
I have a confession to make. While the world over is in love with vampires (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Twilight) and while I will watch and read things about vampires, it’s not exactly one of my favorite creature types. It feels like the media is so saturated with vampires, they might as well be zombies. I think of the vampires and they feel cold to me, there is no passion or trick to them that appeals to me. And I admit, there are authors and creators out there who can create incredible stories with vampires at the center of them, but I don’t think I will ever be one of them. Are you one? Bravo to you! (Tell me all about it!)
Let’s be honest. Everything is better with dragons. It doesn’t even take Game of Thrones to make an amazing story. If it has dragons in it, it might even be a dragon reading a phone book and I will be there for it. I mean I sat through gems like Reign of Fire and (what took the cake) Fire and Ice: The Dragon Chronicles, that’s how much I love dragons. They are the ultimate fantasy creature and incorporating them into an urban fantasy work is like a drug for imagination. The sky is the limit, really. I already wrote one story with a dragon in it and it was such an incredible creative high (it was fanfiction, so you won’t be reading it, but still) I can’t wait to try it again.
Faerie / Elves
I’m indifferent to Tolkien-esque elves. The D&D elves. They are fun, yes, but they don’t offer any challenge to me as a writer. Faerie though, the tricky creatures from another realm who cannot lie and are masters of double meaning, those I adore. The politics of various courts and the games the faerie can play with the mortals and with each other really get my creative juices going. Because they are never described as native to our realm of existence it opens up a whole new universe to play with. I mean how exciting is that?
Now, these are polarizing creatures. You can go Little Mermaid with them, and have friendly creatures just like us, with similar dreams and goals and adventures… Or you can go with a bloodthirsty monster preying on the weak sailors. Or you can go with something completely different. It also comes with pre-set limitations and expectations. I mean you could try to set your mermaid story in a desert, but it will be a challenge.
Let’s be clear. Those aren’t the only creatures out there creators use in their works, but those are the five that come to mind every time I start a new project. What are your favorite fantasy creatures? Do you agree with my list, or do you think I should’ve mentioned others? Let me know!