Slime Toads and Other Monsters of the Between
One of the fun things about writing scenes that take place in the world of the Between is that absolutely anything is possible. So when I needed some monsters and dangers for Zee to fight, all of the realms of imagination, mythology, and fantasy were wide open to twist in any way I wanted. Killer chickens. Fire ants. And yes, the slime toad, a creature that actually gave one of my beta readers nightmares:
Facing him was a creature straight out of nightmare. Needle-sharp teeth as long as Zee’s arm were set in jaws of blackish green, the texture of toad skin. It had no real face. Where its nose should have been there were only two black holes. Red-brown eyes goggled out of its head, independent of each other, the pupils spinning in opposite directions. It had an amphibian body, with powerful back legs, poised to leap. There were claws on its nearly human hands, but the arms were short and not well muscled. Batlike wings sprouted from its shoulders. A spiked tail twitched, catlike, hitting the ground at regular intervals and raising clouds of dust. Slime oozed out of its skin and rained down into the dust with a continuous plop, plop, plop.
Why the toad?
Well, if you’re looking for a creature to cross with a dragon – giving it wings and teeth but absolutely none of a dragon’s grace, beauty, and intelligence – a squat, ugly, warty, bulgy-eyed toad is the obvious choice, right?
In reality, I like toads. As a child I took great delight in catching them, even though they would inevitably pee all over my hand. In case you are not a veteran toad catcher, you should know that they do this as a deterrent to predators. As I think of it, although my brother and I dissected a few frogs during our formative years, I don’t recall that we ever dissected a toad, even though they were much easier to catch.
There’s something a little mysterious about the beasties, I think. They look solemn and keep their own counsel, even when they’re cooling in the dog’s water dish. As a child it was easy to believe that they had a capacity for magic. Toads, toadstools, and fairies were certainly all intertwined in my head. And toads were an ingredient in all of the witches brews in the fairytales.
Of course, there’s not much that’s endearing about the Slime Toad of the Between. It is a poisonous, wicked creature bent on destruction. Will our hero Zee – already wounded and weary – be able to slay the beast and find his way back to Vivian?
The answer to that dilemma lies in the pages of Wakeworld.
Wakeworld by Kerry SchaferPublished by Penguin on 2014-01-28
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Vivian Maylor is trying to hold it together. But her attempts to build a life with the man she loves seem doomed by the dragon inside her yearning to break free. Vivian is a dreamshifter, the last line of defense between reality and the dreamworld, and the only one of her kind. Weston Jennings also believes he is the only one of his kind. He fears his powers as a dreamshifter, and resists learning to control them. After suffering a tragic loss, Weston heads deep into the woods of the Pacific Northwest to embrace a safe life of solitude. But when a terrible mistake leads to an innocent’s death, his guilt drives him to his former home, where he encounters what he never thought he would find: another shifter. Now Vivian and Weston must work together to defeat a new threat to the dreamworld.