In my ongoing blog series to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the publication of Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers, I’ve talked about the original inspiration for both the premise and characters. Today, we get into the fun stuff—the monsters!
Even in the earliest drafts of this story, I was clear about one thing: there would be no shortage of monsters in this story. After all, the original opening of the book stated that the land was surrounded by “Trolls, Giants, and a great many terrible monsters.”
As demonstrated by this line, I originally wanted to populate my story with the type of creatures that already existed in traditional fairy tales. The Trolls in particular were to play a major role, for it would be an infant Troll—then named Grugel—that would be rescued by the heroine (then Luka, as shown in the illustration below).
Why did I make the decision to change the Trolls to Ungers? Well, as I developed the story in greater detail, it became apparent to me that these creatures shared a very special relationship with Kendra and the Eens. I decided that I didn’t want Grugel to be associated with the traditional fairy-tale characters of Trolls so eventually made the decision to call him an Unger, in order to establish his species as one that was original and unique.
Of course, there were creatures other than the Ungers that appeared throughout the story, namely the worm-like Skarm and the Goojuns. We get to see the Skarm in all its glory as it battles the brave Captain Jinx:
Alas, the Goojuns were only mentioned in the tale about Jinx’s Uncle Jasper. Because their role was so minor, I never included any final illustrations of the Goojuns in the book, though here is one of my concept sketches:
Of course, future books in the series, feature many Goojuns, plus the other members of the monster tribes: the Izzards, Krakes, and Orrids.
The biggest and boldest monster in The Box of Whispers is that menacing old creature, Rumor the Red Dragon. Though his character survived intact from that very first concept painting I did (which you can see here), the way the dragon looked went through many changes. You can see by the illustration of him below that he originally looked a bit more like a snake (especially because he has no wings).
It eventually became crucial to give Rumor wings once I realized that he needed to fly across the world stealing “trinkets, baubles, and all manner of curios” to fill his massive vault of riches.
In my next installment, I’ll talk about the evolution of the book’s setting from The Land of Tween to the Land of Een.