Where is the animal fiction for adults ?
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem''
A.A. Milne (Winnie The Pooh)
Outer space, beneath the sea, post-apocalyptic earth riddled with rampant zombies, Middle Earth and talkative trees - our bookstores are bulging with titles that tackle these fascinating worlds. Yet when it comes to adult fiction - very few authors step foot in the animal kingdom. Why is that?
It puzzles me.
Some of my favourite novels/movies/memories - are tales of talking animals.
Jungle Book, Animal Farm, Watership Down, Animals Of Farthing Wood, The Redwall Series, Charlottes Web...
I remember reading Northern Lights as a schoolboy, and the recent BBC production - my main attraction was the polar bears. The same goes for Narnia - who wasn't obsessed with Aslan??
Between them these stories have made billions - and it's not just children that read/watch them. Not at all. I watched the Disney movie Zootopia recently, and loved it.
Watership Down is a fantastic story, but its certainly unsuitable for toddlers - yet its a classic. Why is it so seldom that we find books about communities of creatures?? Disney's whole success is based on talking animals - people clearly love it, kids and adults alike. Yet agents/publishers scoff at the thought that readers might embrace these worlds?
Animals rule the world - they walk, they talk, they hit cafes for breakfast then nine to five at the office, and fritter away evenings in jazz clubs. But paradise remains a distant dream, for there are devils amongst the angels.
Retired cop, Lucas Panda, has been ambushed and kidnapped by mysterious beasts. Plucky young detective, Chico Monkey, and hard boiled bird, Frank Penguin, team up to track him down. But the stakes are raised when three beavers vanish, and the inhabitants of Noah's Kingdom are faced with extinction.
The above, is a brief blurb for my debut novel - The City That Barks And Roars - which will be published in 2020. But I was amazed - that there isn't much fiction out there, which is similar. If you do a quick search on Amazon for 'Animal Fiction For Adults', you merely get the usual suspects (Ten different versions of White Fang).
My detective story takes place in a busy metropolis (basically 1950's LA) but all the characters are animals. I didn't think this was a particularly unique idea yet there really isn't much out there - which takes a serious look at what a world of animals might look like??
Sure, there's millions of animal fiction for children. In fact nearly every childrens book has a talking animal of some kind. But why do adults miss out on the fun?!
Is there an assumption from agents and publishers, that adults don't care about animals? That they've grown out of these kind of stories? The numerous rejection letters I received from traditional publishers...leads me to think so.
Don't we all still carry that intrigue, that wonder - wondering what animals think?
I DO !!
What would they say if they could? What if animals ruled the world?!
I loved writing my book. Imagining how a penguin detective might act, what he would eat, what he would drive...
An evil lioness. A sneaky chinchilla. A serious vulture. Strict panther. Frightened rat. I find it strange that there isn't more authors, keen to explore this world.
It was also fascinating researching the animals - discovering their peculiar habits etc. I wanted to make my story educational as well, so I tried to pepper the chapters with facts about all these weird creatures.
Please share your thoughts. I'd love to hear your opinion.
Am I deluded?? Is it actually a boring idea, a world for our little uns?
Does the idea of a polar bear solving crime make you scream??? :D
The City That Barks And Roars by JT Bird will be out on Amazon, Kindle and Audible in 2020.
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