#Lessons Learned from #MotherNature: #Inspiration for the #Monsters of #Fiction Hide Under Every Leaf.

With the eighteen gazillion snow days my kids have had this winter, reading’s been all but impossible. Cabin fever sets in sure and fast, nerves fray–you know the drill. It’s like the fall after our basement flooded, only now we can’t even utilize the outdoors much due to the extreme cold that sweeps in, sweeps out.

Yet here I am, determined to write a “lessons learned” post SOMEhow. Look to something I read a while ago? Well I could, but that would take some research time that I don’t have because my job interview for teaching full-time’s in…90 minutes.


Don’t worry, this is NOT like the panic of yesterday. It’s just that I haven’t worked full-time since Blondie was born, making even the potential for this culture shift intimidating. As Bo says, though, it is NOT worth worrying about unless I actually get the job.

So, let’s divert from that bridge for a moment and think of warmer climes, where dew drops hug the tree leaves and a million lives scurry around us, out of sight. Every day, every hour, these lives are in life or death struggles to eat, fight, and survive. Duels over prey, wars over homeland. Nonstop action at every turn….

…until winter when everyone’s gotta hibernate.

I’m talkin’ about bugs.

flowers macro praying mantis insect
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bash is our bug kid. He’ll stare at books on insects for ages. He’ll watch ladybugs and ants traverse across the sidewalk (until Biff comes over to stomp on them). The tiniest life fascinates him.

I forget how, but I stumbled upon a cancelled show still on YouTube that brought his love for bugs to his siblings. This show was a savior during the snowdaypacolypse.

I’m talkin’ about Monster Bug Wars.

Just listen to that cool movie-trailer voice they got to narrate this show.

Every episode is like this! “In this life and death struggle….For the centipede, will it be fight, or flight?…The katydid, katydidn’t.”

Okay, I made that last one up, but this narrator is full of dark and dangerous turns of phrase to make every showdown the most epic showdown of them all. You’d think you’re watching a wrestling match, or some action schlock movie (probably why like it, then, ahem).

But more than the voice, my attention was hooked by the bugs. For instance, check out this snippet on the moss mantis.

Look at that camouflage, all the little mossy-like bits on its exoskeleton. How it sways in the breeze like any other leafy growth.

Imagine something like that the size of a dog. A bear.

Suddenly those hooked arms and mandibles are pretty damn terrifying, aren’t they?


How in Hades did I forget about the time difference?!

Okay, the job interview is done and done. A bit of rambling, a bit of awkward Loony Tunes-style vocal staggers into the phone, but I was me, and that’s…well, dramatic, to say the least. No different than I am in the classroom.

Anyway. Back to bugs.

As a fantasy writer, the pressure’s always on to create worlds unique unto themselves. This means I–and I’m assuming other writers–feel like we have to create from scratch. Yet when I look at creatures like this mantis or spider, I can’t help but wonder: why are we starting from scratch when such amazing monsters already live among us?

No, I’m not saying you make giant bugs be the monsters of your stories. What I am saying is that these creatures are a wealth of inspiration: the way they melt into their surrounding environments. Their weapons. Their weaknesses. Their fighting styles. The way they hunt, breed, survive.

Our world overflows with creations both beautiful and terrible. In the writer’s quest to bring the unique and never-before-seen to readers, we too often forget the wealth of unknown predators that move in our oceans and forests. Utilize the mind-blowing traits of such predators, and you’ll create a monster that truly terrifies characters and readers alike.

Speaking of creepy monsters in the forest that want to feast upon you, nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day!” like a book about monsters, magic, and love. Check out my novel on sale for 99 cents!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

45 thoughts on “#Lessons Learned from #MotherNature: #Inspiration for the #Monsters of #Fiction Hide Under Every Leaf.

  1. That’s the sort of video I’ve got to sit through. It’s that bad that even I can pick out some of these bugs. My money is on the most venomous spider in the world, why did it have to be called wandering. Would have preferred the Brazilian Stationery Spider. I went to South Africa as a kid. They didn’t have tv but I do remember a really scary radio series about monstrous bugs. You are so right about they are great subjects to base characters on. Perfect evolution. I bet your pleased the interview is over.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am pleased, thanks! Next round of interviews next week–we’ll see if I make the cut.

      What’s adorable–and of course I don’t have it–is Bash drawing these bugs. He loves making preying mantises. They all have leaf-shaped eyes and tiny tiny smiley faces πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think it’s brilliant that you take the time to observe the world in this detail. I know that’s what writers doβ€”but I still love to read about it. Bugs (and nature) are so overwhelmingly awesome sometimes. I am truly awed by it all.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking of you and your post last night because we watched one of those shows–they always make me feel awed by the world and somehow refreshed. There is so much I don’t know about the wonders out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! I just picked up a book, “Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry” by Neil Degrasse Tyson. His wonder and amazement with the universe–and love of kids who want to be inspired–is pretty awesome.
        I’ll be honest–I bought the kid’s version to give to my son, but also because I wasn’t sure I could fully understand the adult version!

        Liked by 1 person

      • LMAO! That totally sounds like something I’d do. πŸ™‚
        In college I was going for a liberal arts degree (obviously, look who’s talkin’ here), so a science course was required. I signed up for “Physics for Poets.” No joke. There even was a textbook.
        It still went aaaaaaaaaaaaall over my head. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh no! That is the absolute worst. One book I read, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics” years ago. I liked the title quite a bit and liked the book enough. I didn’t like the end–it left me hollow. But, I have remembered that title for a long time.
        I wish “Physics for Poets” had been good. Did you read the whole thing before you decided it was terrible?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well now, that’s kinda weird; Suddenly I’m seeing lots about mantises. So now, I guess they’re just praying for a story πŸ˜‰ I’ll have to see what I can do.
    Good luck with the outcome of the interview!

    Liked by 1 person

      • We have a big house spider who skitters across our carpet – I’m sure I can actually hear him, but I expect that’s my imagination… I think he’s great, but sadly the grandchildren both are terrified.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d probably scream, too. πŸ™‚ In Milwaukee we had centipedes several inches long and just as wide. I got used to killing them with my bare hand. The worst thing was when you’d wake up and find one crawling across the bed. EEEEEEEW

        Liked by 1 person

      • Urg! Nope I’m only fond of Brit insects, who tend to be good mannered enough to keep to dark corners and NOT be too bitey or poisonous (is bitey an adjective a Creative Writing tutor ought to use??)

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Sorry, now I’m imagining Brit insects sitting down to tea. That’s awesome.
        And bitey SHOULD be a word. If selfie can be a word grownup professionals actually say, then so can bitey. πŸ™‚
        Funny snippet–my kid brother was teasing all us Wisconsin-dwellers for living in the deep freeze. “Come to Arizona!” he says. I told him I’d prefer dealing with the cold over finding scorpions in my bed (which he has). His answer: “True, but at least I can look my enemy in the face.”
        Goofball. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Urg! Scorpions in the bed *shudders*. We get slow worms, faaar too many slugs and snails, crane flies (daddy-long-legs) lots of species of spiders, some of which bite apparently though I’ve never had a problem, several species of bees, wasps and far too few butterflies compared to when I was a girl. Oh and worms… so you see? Other than foxes who poo on the lawn, that’s it… All very good mannered:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes – we have mosquitos, too… I’d forgotten about them. Though I’m delighted to report that gnats and midges aren’t a thing in our corner of the country… So… I’m curious – clearly you dress for the weather in the winter – do you dress for the garden wildlife in the summer? All-in-one biteproof suits with matching veils, perhaps?


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