“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Tomorrow, we kick start our new season of short stories – Superheroes! – with The Indigo Mantis by E. Catherine Tobler. Today, E. Catherine tells us a little bit about the Inspirations & Influences behind the story.
Please give a warm welcome to E. Catehrine Tobler…and to Indi.
I didn’t set out to write about an insect superhero.
My good friend Beth Wodzinski, however, gifted us with an online art course, which had us watercoloring blobs and other shapes, and then lending structure to them with pencil sketches. From this doodling, I found myself drawing all manner of things: tentacles, kittens, peacocks, and then a mantis showed up.
I colored her green and then realized that her wings, which I colored blue, looked like a cape. A story began to take shape.
Naturally, I started with sexual cannibalism–the idea that the female mantis will kill and/or consume the male after mating has taken place. Gruesome. And yet, I thought, also kind of noir? I turned from art journal to writing journal, and my notes say: “You killed my father, prepare to die!” Aha. Sexual cannibalism paired with the gracious Inigo Montoya.
The mantis as a femme fatale is a big trope in some circles, but tropes tend to make my head shake, so I wanted to turn that upside down. Were mantises always subject to their natures? Or might they, like anyone, break out and do something excessively different and new?
And that brought me back to the idea of the cape and Inigo. Our mantis could be a detective, because we liked that aspect of noir, but what if she was secretly something else? People are rarely up front about their superhero nature, so maybe that could be the secret of our mantis as well.
Superheroes need a city to defend, a Gotham, a Metropolis. In this case, our Gotham is a tree in the woods, filled with all kinds of bug life. This city would have bars, of course, and homes, and if there were detective bugs, there were probably police bugs, and mobster bugs, and probably also birds, which would be a danger to all the bugs as they tried to go about their lives.
So what if Inigo Montoya were a crime-fighting lady mantis?
“Just a normal lady bug?” my early notes ask. Never normal, not in my stories.
How to Get the Story
The Indigo Mantis will be published officially on May 24, 2016. You’ll be able to read the short story in full for free here on The Book Smugglers, but we’ll also have a DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI) that contains the story as well as a Q&A, and an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites.
Need a copy *right* now? Want to read it *today*? You can buy it directly from us!
Add the book on Goodreads, and read The Indigo Mantis for free online on May 24, 2016.