When I first had the idea for my novel, it was in many respects generic. I did a “what if” and started writing based on that. When my primary character, one of two present in the “what if,” completed the foundation premise, I had her in an alien or other world and had to figure out what happened when she got there. I knew she had been summoned by a magician, or sorcerer, but I didn’t know why and I had to figure it out. Other than the sorcerer, who lived on that world?
I thought about the many fantasy books that I have read where worlds contain species other than humans. Some of the species are sentient, and some are more the fauna of the imagined world. Sherri S. Tepper has a wonderful book where the alien presence on the other world was a race of creatures that the humans called “timmies.” The children knew all about timmies because they were nursemaids to the kids. But as they grew up, they realized that they weren’t supposed to see timmies and forgot about it. The denouement is wonderful and I strongly recommend Six Moon Dance to all of you who want to see a wonderfully inventive species.
But timmies were not the kind of creatures I wanted my heroine to meet. But she told me the first she met were cats. So I wrote a little about cats, and she told me I was wrong. These cats stood on their hind legs. Ok, I can live with that, I thought. So I made the cat people stand on their hind legs. Then she told me they talked. Fine, I thought. And I made the cat people sentient. I left the tail on for a good 100 pages and then was told they did not have tails. And she told me their name was “felixities.” I told her that was cute, and she didn’t talk to me for three days. I had fun reading during that time.
During that 100 pages, the heroine encountered another species; they looked like ravens, only bigger. They too could talk. Any more? I asked her. Then I found out about the mini-Mes, little people who looked exactly like humans but were no larger than two feet tall. Right. I almost didn’t want to know what their names were. But she told me anyway. The birds were avanees and the people were kerps. Then she told me there were five sentient species, which meant I had one more to learn. They were dolphins, and they were fliperlies. Fine. And we wrote the story.
In fact, we sailed through Part 1 and Part 2. Then it was time for Part 3 and at 7600+ words into it, the word “dragons” came into the story. And within the next 1000 words it was clear that they too were sentient. Are there any more? I asked. No, I was told. The story continued apace, and she was right. No more species. So I guess you can say that I created four new species, but they were all based on earth. There was a reason for this. The alien planet is an alternate earth, created ten thousand years previously when Gaia split this world off of our world and sent the male sorcerers there to do what they wanted. The dragons had also gone to that planet on their own, because they were sick of being harassed here.
So I end up with a world with six species resident, including human sorcerers who have lost some of their humanity in their long life there. The felixities, avanees, kerps and fliperlies all agreed to the entry of the dragons into their compact. That’s the next story from this book.