April 15, 2024


From Little  Red Riding Hood , The Three  Little Pigs  talking animals is a common theme and motif in mythology , folklore and fairytales.  But when I was young  I  didn’t too  much care for the stories , movies , cartoons  that told about talking animals.  That is most of childhood  though. Right.  I know  . But  I would simply turn them off .  I  was interested  in shows  like Recess and  Rug Rats and Hey Arnold.  I would  opt  to  read  stories  like Sleeping Beauty,  Goosebumps , and  Adventures of Tom Sawyer. 

I would fall asleep  the whole  time  when  I was in 3rd grade and the whole class  was  told  to read  Charlotte’s  Web  aloud.  Not that I  had anything against Charlotte’s Web.  It is a classic. However, I just wasn’t feeling the talking animals all that much.  That’s the same  feeling I had with  many other titles  about  or with talking animals.   I hated  and I  still kind of hate  how in every  Disney  or princess  movie there  is an animal side quick .    I   had no  interest in Bambi ,  the Rescuers   Down Under, or Oliver &Company.  And the  only   reason I watched  All Dogs  Go to Heaven  as  a child   is because it seemed  to be the only thing on  weekends that would play constantly on TBS .

What is wrong with you ?  You  might be  asking me . These are Classics .

I know. I know  but  they  were  all  boring.

So  you might be asking this question . If you think stories  with talking animals  are boring   why do you write animals that talk  in your novel?

 Well that   is  a  good  question.    A while back I  had a podcast episode  that talked  about fantasy  vs  fairytales and  on this podcast  I  talked about talking animals.  There is a  difference. Let me explain.

In my novel  you have werewolves ; wolves who become  human due to a curse and then you have a  raven who talks  and can shapeshift into a  human . He talks  while  in raven  form.  But  he  (spoiler) is not really  a raven .  Simply a shapeshifter  just  like my werewolves. 

Is it really a talking animal  if they can shapeshift ?   There is a difference.  

All  or most of our childhood  cartoons,  movies and stories  with talking animals  were  all anthropomorphic.

Anthropomorphism gives objects or animals human characteristics to make them appear human. Anthropomorphism  is supposed to make us connect  more with the story if using an animal.

But my characters are not that.  They are merely  shapeshifters .  In many fairy tales, the hero’s talking animal helper proves to be a shapeshifted human being, able to help him in its animal form. 

But then there  is Animism  where  in general it is  the belief in spirits or souls, whether of humans, animals, or objects such as land features.  In fiction  it is  reference where the  souls can be considered animistic.

With some  fables and stories that contain animism  they also are anthropomorphism  but within the context of the story, an anthropomorphized animal is not actually considered spiritual. And animism  can be considered  more complex with a  more mythical-religious paradigm. The character is the religious figure, who is also the bridge between the spiritual world and that of the  humans, say shaman, sorcerer, priest or monk.

Whereas  in my  work in progress  novel  that is  exactly what I have.

I don’t use the motif  for the same reason  that the other authors  have used  it in the past.  I don’t  use   It as  a metaphor  ,  satire  or even artistic  reasons.

I hope these  explanations  indicate  the differences   clearly   also  why  I write   talking  animals  in my novel.

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