What Does a Monster Look Like?

S.P. GatesIn this guest post by author S.P. Gates, she shares how she pictures Zilombo, the monster from her new lower middle grade novel, The Monster in the Mudball, out next week from our Tu Books imprint.

Hi from England to my American readers!

Question: First of all, who is Zilombo?

Answer:  Zilombo is the monster in my book, The Monster in the Mudball. Here are a few things it says about her, in the book:

1.) Zilombo is very ancient, a mythical creature older than dinosaurs, an incredible mixture of many beasts.

2.) Every time she hatches out of her mudball, she looks different and has evolved  a new animal skill, usually to help her catch things to eat. When she hatches in England she can collapse her skeleton like a rat does and squeeze through the tiniest holes after her prey!

3.) She’s got teeth like a crocodile, skin like a hippo, a leap like a frog and swivel eyes like a chameleon. She’s got sharp talons, curled into leopard claws. She has the low jutting forehead of an ape and her nose is pulled forward into a muzzle, like a dog. She has rusty orange hair, that sticks up in a crest on her head Mohawk style, then bristles down her back like a lion’s mane.

4.) Oh, and (I forgot!) she has scaly chicken legs.

No wonder her name means “Beasts.”  Imagine a mixture of monsters from your worst nightmares and that’s Zilombo!

Every reader imagines her a bit differently because she’s a shape shifter, always changing. You never know what you’re going to get when she hatches out next. Here’s what I looked at, when I was trying to imagine her:

I looked at African masks, like this one:

Traditional dogon masques in Tirelli, Pays Dogon, Mali

Traditional dogon masques in Tirelli, Pays Dogon, Mali. Photograph by Ferdinand Reus, taken from Wikipedia Commons

I looked at dinosaur skeletons, like this deadly Deinonychus:

dromaeosaurid dinosaur Deinonychus

Skeleton of the dromaeosaurid dinosaur Deinonychus at Field Museum of Natural History, taken from Wikipedia Commons

I looked at photographs and video clips of lions, hippos, apes, all kinds of animals, and learned how they behave.

But everyone imagines Zilombo a bit differently.

My grown-up son Alex sometimes makes me models of the characters in my books.  I asked him to make me a model of Zilombo.  First he drew some ideas, like this ……

Zilombo sketch 1

…. and this ….

Zilombo sketch 2

…. and then he made a model ……….

Zilombo

Zilombo

a closer look at Zilombo

This is Alex’s Zilombo. The illustrator who worked on the cover of The Monster in the Mudball pictured her a little differently:

zilombo_sketch

zilombo

In the end, we ended up with a cover that shows off Zilombo’s silhouette and maintains her mystery:

zil_jacket_06

(the dragon is not Zilombo)

So, what does Zilombo look like? You tell me! Your Zilombo will be different from my Zilombo. And, the wonderful thing is, we’re all right!

How do you imagine Zilombo?

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] by S.P. Gates: What Does a Monster Look Like? (including art by Alex, S.P Gates […]

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,821 other followers

%d bloggers like this: