Thursday, April 19, 2012

Animal Fantasy Awareness (T.A.A.'s going Back to Basics!)

Some time ago, my writer friend and "Comrade in Revisions", Kelly Hashway, posted on her blog something she shared with me in private 

She's unabashedly a YA writer

Those who read my Critter Chat with Kelly in January know she began her writing career in different realm form where she's heading now. Between various sales of her work in magazines, her first major release was a picture book, "May the Best Dog Win" inspired by her daughter (pre-K at the time of this post) who asked her to write one, and the rest is history--for that book, anyway. She later went on to collaborate with her illustrative sister, Heather, on her self-published effort, The Perfect Puppy, and more recently, Santa Bunny. Heather also did the cover art for "The Imaginary Friend" her two part short story now available for free* at (Price of Free may be subject to change).

Kelly's work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and we each have a story in the anthology "Trunk Stories." 

But as I said at the outset, Kelly's found her new home in the world of YA with the first two books in her trilogy, TOUCH OF DEATH AND TOUCH OF, currently slated for publication in January 2013 and July 2013 respectively (Pub Dates are subject to change so please follow Kelly Hashway's blog for any date changes).

I'm happy for you, Kelly, there's nothing like the feeling of finding where you belong and are most happiest. True for anything in life, but especially for writers who have to endure decades of apprenticing to start their careers.
Be it a magazine piece, memoir, nonfiction, novel or poetry/story collection.

Those who follow my blog know I struggle with writing my own stories for the YA audience, a skill that I know will serve Kelly well, but what you may not know is she landed her agent with a middle grade novel, which is my specialty, but the current market for debut middle grade fiction is struggling, even more-so for folks like me who are more at home with animal fantasy, than anything with a dystopian or edgy and dark bent. 

Aside from wishing I could write YA, I also longed for finding my own tribe of readers, not just writers of animal fantasy, and not just paranormal.

As many of you T.A.A. faithful may have noticed, I haven't written much on genre-specific issues nearly all writers of animal fantasy face.

I mean my blog's named, "Talking Animal Addicts" and yet I've kind of deviated from the core message of my blog, and there are really two key reasons why-

I Didn't "OWN" my love of the Genre
There are many posts I wrote to tackle this subject that I never posted or completed because I had doubts of the impact my passion could have.

Envy Delayed My Progress
That pretty much speaks for itself.

But no more. Like Kelly, and many writers before me, I need to embrace my niche, rather than feel shame from it, that's vital for all the writing I do, and those of your who also blog know full well what I mean.

So, consider this statement a follow-up to my intro post when I began Talking Animal Addicts in December 2010-

I started this blog to protest the myth that only preschoolers like animal fantasy, and unite other like-minded writers who know all too well as I do that stigma attached to these stories, especially as an unproven brand name author, but the stigma also comes from educators and parents, other writers (Even those we love and respect), even some publishing insiders who argue that kids are demanding more books with more contemporary, or reality-based plot lines.

Maybe there aren't millions of us, but there are more than the average person might think, especially among the non-parents or writers who aren't easily in tune with their "Inner Child" and/or interact with children on a regular basis. and I think part of this is the fear we have of divulging our passion for animal fantasy, since the first thing people will say is "That's a hard sell, especially for non-famous author." 

Whether this is true of every case or not isn't the issue here, the real issue is for those of us who proudly write the books we love to band together, and shout to the world, "We're not crazy for reading or writing books about or featuring talking animals!"

Okay, maybe not shout it at work, or outside your kid's high school (Or anywhere people who know you will hear...) but it's important to remind yourself why you do what you do. It keeps you honest, if not always sane.

I felt strongly there needed to be an outlet for these writers, a sanctuary even, where their passion would not get made fun of, but meet like-minded writers, that span the ages and stages of writers worldwide.

I want T.A.A. to become that safe haven, and will get back to more animal fantasy related posts in the coming weeks. If you have any ideas, feel free to share in the comments below. I urge all you writers of animal fantasy out there to let it rip in the comments below.

Tell your writer friends to find T.A.A. on Facebook and Google+.
Eventually T.A.A will have its own Twitter Feed, but for now you can follow my separate Twitter Feed here.

Remember, "We're not just for preschoolers anymore" We're for readers and writers who love what we do, and eventually people will see that reflected in our stories, instead of thinking "We're just trying to ride the copycat wave of Charlotte's Web, Redwall, and Watership Down." 

Some people do that. No question. 

I'm not one of those people. 

Anyone whose read my work, even people who normally don't read or particularly like animal fantasy, have told me this, a writer can't ask for a better endorsement than that (Well, a paycheck would be nice, really, but that's a topic for another time).

Until Tomorrow, 
May the Fantastic Fauna Be With You


  1. Good for you. Everyone should be able to say they like something without feeling ashamed.

    Personally, I don't love (or hate) talking animal stories. I read them like I do anything else - if the story is good, who cares that the MC is a dog/cat/bunny/zombie?

    A topic suggestion: What about talking animal stories do you love? Why are they so important to you?

    1. You're right, Erin, I just think some of us lucked out in coming to that realization sooner rather later, and for me it was so much later...

      I don't feel shame now, but it's something would've been social death if anyone in school ever found out, but I had few friends, and no one in my family worked the school, but even among my closest friends offline (We've lost touch since I moved from my old neighborhood) wouldn't understand, it would've look like I was one of those "Refusal to Grow Up" deadbeats screwball comedies make their fortunes with, but when you've lived such an interior life, partly from shyness, and partly from trying too hard to hold on to bonds makes my current transitions in life really difficult to navigate with any level of patience or tact.

      Now I'm trying to take this day to day without having as many deathly knee-jerk reactions.

  2. I agree. But then, I happen to love animals, so why not make them talk and tell me stories? I just think grownups ought to be able to enjoy talking animals as well without feeling silly about it!

    Great post, Taurean. Keep up the fabulous work!

  3. Thanks Cat. I am working on something. Still in the planning stage, though.

  4. Taurean, sorry I didn't see this sooner, but I was away for a few days. Thanks so much for mentioning me. And I applaud you for what you're doing here. And I really do feel there is a market for these animal stories. There are some very famous ones out there, classics even. And you, Taurean, just might be among them one day. I'm cheering you on. :)

    1. Kelly, I know you had that regional conference among other things, I follow your blog, remember?

      Thanks for the support, it's hard to defend my niche sometimes without coming off a bit childish and like I'm anti-YA, which I'm not, but I feel like in our hyper-competitive world, people like me, who don't thrive on bloodthirsty, "Rat Race" mentalities get unfairly, and in some cases, unethically left behind, or treated unjustly like deadbeat jerks or invalids, and it just gets to me, which is why I get so hard on myself for seemingly demoralizing SLOW pace.

      As much we all tell ourselves not to overdo the pressure we put on ourselves, we still also say just as often, "Take commitments seriously No excuses. Results are all that matters. It doesn't matter if your family's impossible, your life's falling apart, just do it all with a smile. That's nothing to smile about! No amount of guilt-tripping me with suffering in the third world and the handicapped and homeless will make it hurt LESS!

      Sorry for my outburst, but I don't think it's wrong to feel pain, even if you don't go hungry, have a roof overhead, it doesn't erase the stress of your life, and it doesn't make you any damn less grateful, but if you can't share it, you do crazy things after awhile, I'm living proof.


      These days, it feels only in sleep, can I escape the pressure, and as much we advise (and wish...) otherwise, we can't always take years and decades for every major problem to work through. It doesn't mean we want it all "Now, now, now!" it's just not always an impatience issue, as impatient as I'm guilty of being.

      There are things in life, that demand brevity and immediacy, and what can we do then?