Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Blog with Donna Galanti - Create Your Own Creature

Creatures are everywhere in books. Vampires. Werewolves. Faeries. Goblins. BigFoot (some argue he is real and I’m leaning towards a yes on that). And then there are made up creatures we encounter with fantastical names. These are fun to create and encounter.

In A HUMAN ELEMENT I created a creature-man, X-10, who was part human and part…something else (no spoilers here!). He grows up a science experiment unloved, enraged, and hideous to look at. He’s never given a name and desperately wants one. There he is on the book cover with those evil yellow eyes, but you can’t help your genes, right? :)

Where do you start when looking to develop a creature? Here are some basics to help you get started. And just for fun take a quiz to find out what kind of mythical creature you are! (I’m a vampire). Here also is a mythical creature guide to use as a reference if using known creatures in your writing.

And here is a handy starting list to begin creating your creature:

Name : Life Span : Weight : Height : Number of Young it can have : Diet :
Origin : Enemies : Lives : Appearance : Abilities/Powers : Personality :

Features of X-10:

6 ft. 5 in. tall
Milky white translucent skin
Yellow eyes
Bulbous limbs
Flattened nose
Neanderthal forehead
Steam shovel mouth
Nail-less with pod like fingers and toes

Since he is only half-human I wanted to give him an unfinished, primitive appearance to him. Even more fun was to create his powers which he used to spread death and pain.

X-10’s features up close: 

X-10's nostrils flared, widening his flattened nose further across his face, stretching from ear to ear. He breathed deep with his recent success and felt power surging through his massive, muscled body. His veins pulsed and throbbed pushing up through his milky white skin. The blue veins cut across his naked body, carving ropes across his translucent skin in a clumsy, child's drawing. He flexed his pod hands and feet congratulating himself on his victory. Having no nails, X-10 knew he looked unfinished. His fingers and toes were fluid extensions of his body, they widened at the tips with connected webbing.

Powers of X-10:

A seeker, can seek people out with his mind powers
In-human strength
Can kill with his “mind’s eye” from afar

In A HUMAN ELEMENT the heroine, Laura Armstrong, uses her powers for good – until she has to use them to save herself. But X-10 uses them to kill and destroy.

Here X-10 uses his powers for revenge: 

His anger raged again, thinking of her. He threw off the afghan and jumped up from the chair. Where was she now? He knelt on the braided rug and placed his hands to his head seeking her out. Sunrise was coming. He had little time but he wanted to find her. He needed to punish her, to soothe his rage before he slept for the day.

His mind's eye flew over the treetops, up a mountain. There she stood, in a dark room with walls that gleamed. She must be underground. Something moved on the wall. Moving pictures. A strange looking person was in the movie. He looked familiar to X-10. Then he knew it had to be his father. Laura's father too. He looked familiar as he looked like himself. A seething fury rose in him watching her watch the movie. Then a girl appeared. She looked like Laura and he knew it was their mother. His wrath grew immense, hating Laura for looking normal like their mother while he looked like the freak.

X-10 crushed his hands together and shrieked a demonic wail, pressing into her brain, probing with points of fire. Pain. He wanted her to feel so much pain. She fell to the floor, hugging herself. He watched her writhe and moan. When he faced her in person he would bring her to her knees and kill her while he stared into her forlorn eyes. Those big, brown eyes. He would snuff them of life so no human could enjoy them again. Bitter bile filled his throat and he swallowed hard, forcing it down. It was time to go. A few hours sleep was all he needed and when dusk fell again he would be off, running the last few miles toward his prey. He was so close. By tonight he would be upon her. And they would be face to face.

He thumped his chest in a war cry and ran through the farmhouse door, a wild beast with one thing in mind. To kill.

Can a creature with such vile tendencies to use his powers for evil even be redeemed? That’s a question raised in A HUMAN ELEMENT.

Do you create your own creatures in your writing or do you use already known mythical creatures? How do you go about developing a new creature?


One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next.

Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test.

With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

Readers who devour paranormal books with a smidge of horror and steam will enjoy A HUMAN ELEMENT, the new novel about loss, redemption, and love.

Reviewers are saying…

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of ASSASSIN’S CODE and DEAD OF NIGHT

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is a haunting look at what it means to be human. It’s a suspenseful ride through life and love…and death, with a killer so evil you can’t help but be afraid. An excellent read.” –Janice Gable Bashman, author of WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.


Donna Galanti is the author of the dark novel A Human Element (Echelon Press). She won first place for Words on the Wall Fiction at the 2011 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. Donna has a B.A. in English and a background in marketing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs. Visit her at:

LIKE Donna’s Author Facebook page for news and updates! Her tour runs through April 11thh with book giveaways, more guest posts, and interview fun, and a chance to win the big prize giveaway! So pop over to her blog to see the full tour schedule.

Connect with Donna here:

Purchase A HUMAN ELEMENT here:

Barnes & Noble:



DonnaGalanti said...

Nicole, thanks so much for having me on your awesome blog! Its been fun.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post. Thanks Donna for the website link. I tend to read about magical creatures in a book or now maybe that website and use them as a launching ground. Good luck with your book.

Angela Brown said...

Those are some wonderful tips in regards to creating a creature. X-10 really sounds like a bad man - er - manlike thing, rather.

Matthew MacNish said...

Wow. This sounds seriously awesome. I'm off to take some of those tests!

Nighfala said...

I'm a nymph! :D

I do use magical creatures, mostly variations of existing ones. Well, I did make up some. Hmmm. Actually, I made up several now that I think about it.

Your anti-hero X-10 sounds fascinating!

DonnaGalanti said...

Christine - thanks! X-10 is definitely raw. My publisher even made me tone him down, which my advanced readers were upset about. LOL. How wonderful you are a nymph!

Matthew- let us know what kind of creature you are!

Angela - man-like thing. That is funny, and I actually I have a few people I know I can use that on! :)

Natalie - hope those sites give you some inspiration!

Catherine Stine said...

I'm reading the book right now, and X-10 is one of the most amazing characters. It's so scary that he can kill from a long distance. I like him more for the fact that he's not some cardboard character-not your typical vamp or werewolf, but he's made up in vivid detail.

Cherie Reich said...

Awesome post and great things to consider when creating a new creature, or new half-creature.

The quiz was fun. I'm an elf. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A good checklist for creating aliens as well!

DonnaGalanti said...

I like how everyone is coming up a different creature! Nicole, did you take the creature test too?

Catherine, thanks for reading A Human Element and I love hearing your take on X-10. People tend to comment more on Ben and Laura.

Alex - yes, to be used for aliens, I like that!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Glad to have you here today, Donna! I did take the test - I'm a Nymph, but I was almost an elf.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

What a very cool, fun post! I love mythical creatures. My daughters created a couple of the creatures that are in my WIP. :)

Stephanie said...

A Human Element sounds like a great read. I love dark stories.

I love creating new creatures, although there's a lot of fun to be had in writing a new take on an old myth.

My test came back Siren, with a bit of nymph and elf thrown in. Neat :)

DonnaGalanti said...

Amanda, my son also created some of the magical creatures in the middle grade adventure I just finished writing. One was a "skeedar" - flying deer of sorts -the other a"vape" a snake head spear. That must have been fun to work with your daughter and have her involved in your book!

Stephanie, I agree what fun to create an old myth and put a new spin on that. Readers can love old turned into new - and fun to create too!