So NaNoWriMo is almost upon us, and with Path of the Dragon complete and in editing, I’m ready for a break from the “Rise” world. My next book will be about Mauja and Sigumba, a lioness and the cheetah she adopts.
Most stories with anthropomorphic animals tend to make them monogamous. But in real life, lions and cheetahs are not. When I write about animals, I try and reflect as much of their real behavior if I can. This has been true since the late 1990’s, but became far more pronounced after writing the original version of The Windwater Pack. Think what you will of WolfQuest, the site will force you to not go far from real behavior. So, I’m thinking of addressing the reality in Watching Shadows. Here’s a list of what I’m considering:
Lions are considered “odd” by other feline species.
I assume if animals had human-level intellect like they do in Crystal Prism, then lions, as one of the few feline species to live in a group, would be looked upon in much the same way we as humans look upon cultures that are vastly different from our own. Thus, cheetahs like Kiwara would be at the very least confused by any other feline intentionally choosing to act like one.
Lions do not take mates.
This is not to say that lions don’t breed, just that they don’t really form the same type of emotional attachment to their partners that we (usually) do. “Love is for mothers, sisters, and cubs until they are grown. Fathers, brothers… males come and go. We always remain.” I also am not saying that there can’t be affection and genuine concern between “mates”, but there will always be that tiny voice saying that it cannot last forever. I have not yet fully considered the male viewpoint here, as my main character is female and her background is what I need most.
Cheetahs wouldn’t take mates either.
There would likely be some folklore explanation for why brothers stay together and why sisters split up. Perhaps a story of sisters/mother and daughter who got “played” by the males.
The “tear” markings (both the cheetah ones, and the marking Mauja shares with her father) will have legends attached.
For the cheetahs, I’m aware of a story about a mother cheetah who cried while she sought her killed cubs, and her next litter bore the markings. Mauja’s would be that the mark means the bearer is “special” in some way, and that there’s a place they belong if they just follow the directions. I need to work more on that.
So stay turned for updates on that. Thank you for reading!