Monster Encyclopedia: Pok

Everyone hates this monster, and for good reason. It’s gross! And weird. And, well, you know how people talk about wanting to burn down their house when they see a big spider?

[Image of burning buildings with meme text that says, “There was a spider. It’s gone now.”]

[Image of burning buildings with meme text that says, “There was a spider. It’s gone now.”]

[Images of a burning house with Grumpy Cat in the foreground and meme text that says: “Spider? What spider?”]

[Images of a burning house with Grumpy Cat in the foreground and meme text that says: “Spider? What spider?”]

So yeah, now here’s a picture of a pok, complete with face tentacles, eight spindly legs, and a scorpion tail.

Pok Wallpaper.png

Their features include: face tentacles, six spider-like legs, two pincers, and a scorpion tail. There are as big as SUVs or giant pick-up trucks. Poks live in groups, typically, but they will go off and hunt on their own. They have a hard exoskeleton, so they’re hard to kill with a blade, though they don’t like being shot in the face with arrows. Their face tentacles are squishy too, so you can lop those off, and if you have a powerful enough swing, you can chop through their legs. They’re fast though, so be prepared to run.

Poks are pretty single-minded, with their main objective being acquiring food. The things never stop eating. If there is enough food in an area, more than one of them might live in the same place, but when food gets scarce, they tend to head off on their own. Their shell is pretty much impenetrable, and their scorpion tail filled with venom.

Fun fact: the easiest way to kill one of these is to cut off all six legs. The problem is that they are really fast, and only need three of their main legs to move, so it’s really difficult to get close enough to chop off a leg six times without dying yourself.

Another fun fact: Askari (the main character in Tentacles and Teeth)’s mother was killed by a pok when Askari was five.

This monster is interesting to me, because it’s just a random collection of things people find gross: spiders, scorpions, crabs—so people have pretty strong reactions to it. They might say, “gross!” or “keep that thing away from me!” But I have noticed that it tends to be a favorite monsters among 9-year-old boys.

As you can see, there are fun times ahead for Askari and the gang.

This pok was my first conception of it. The hair all over the body and legs still makes me shiver a little lol

This pok was my first conception of it. The hair all over the body and legs still makes me shiver a little lol

Subscribe to Ariele's Blog: In Love With The Universe

* indicates required
Email Format


Monster Encyclopedia: Gamba

Gambas are hilarious. This monster really did come out of the story, too. Askari has been sent off on her own, so I needed a monster that she wouldn’t be afraid of and that she could technically handle on her own, but that would ultimately prove to be a problem—and the gamba is what I came up with.

This is my first sketch ever, which I still love. Its mouth is so creepy.

This is my first sketch ever, which I still love. Its mouth is so creepy.

They are “masters” of disguise—or not, actually. They have a mushroom hat that they hide under, but it’s so big it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t actually mushrooms. The only people they fool are ones that haven’t encountered them before.

They have hairy bodies, sharp claws, and a sort of oily… oil on their bodies that is slippery, but also flammable.

Their main mode of hunting is to track something throughout the day, wait until it is in a vulnerable position (like sleeping) and then attack. They love land animals, but aren’t smart enough to get their claws on them very often, so tend to eat fish and ducks more often than human or deer.

Honestly though, I love this monster. I think they are cute, hilarious, and have engaging personalities—despite the fact that they only want to eat you.

This is the stippled drawing of the gamba. It took about 6 hours, but I used a combination of gray manga markers and sharpie, which gives it a little extra depth.

This is the stippled drawing of the gamba. It took about 6 hours, but I used a combination of gray manga markers and sharpie, which gives it a little extra depth.

And just for fun, here is a little teaser from Chapter 3 of Tentacles and Teeth, detailing a piece of Askari’s first encounter with the creature.

“She walked a few more feet towards the river and saw another mushroom. This one quivered briefly, like it had just been brushed by something moving past it. Frowning, Askari turned and looked back at the previous mushroom. It was gone.

Her frown deepened as she walked slowly past the new mushroom, keeping an eye on it over her shoulder. What exactly was it? A weird plant? A hallucination? As soon as she was past, the mushroom miraculously sprouted ugly, hairy legs and scurried behind a tree.”

Yes, the wonderful little gamba behind the tree. It can’t see the quote box, in case you were wondering. Also, in case you were wondering, I made all these teaser images in PowerPoint. :D

Yes, the wonderful little gamba behind the tree. It can’t see the quote box, in case you were wondering. Also, in case you were wondering, I made all these teaser images in PowerPoint. :D



Monster Encyclopedia: Rarohan

Today’s monster is a rarohan. This one had a little bit more thought put into it. I needed something that required a team to kill, something that preferred to live in the plains, and something fast. Enter: giant lion with skeletal body.

I had a little trouble visualizing this monster, so that’s why this sketch is a little cartoony.

I had a little trouble visualizing this monster, so that’s why this sketch is a little cartoony.

This monster is about the size of a horse. Technically, you can kill one by yourself but it would be extremely difficult. It’s better to go at one with a team of two or three. Not to mention, they run in packs, so even better than a team, grab yourself an army—or several teams, at least. They are almost invulnerable to arrows (unless you can get one in the eye), and the best way to make sure they’re dead is to cut off their head. That’s why you need a team—one person to distract it while the other person takes a blade to its neck.

I also have this fun one I did with sharpies on graph paper. Looks like it has a green beard lol

I also have this fun one I did with sharpies on graph paper. Looks like it has a green beard lol

Their body is made of bone, and their veins run through the bone. The skeleton is covered by a thin membrane in greens, greys, and browns, that enables it to hide easily in tall grasses. They run really fast as well, though they don’t like woods very much, and will only go through them if they have no other choice. They tend to be more common out in the midwest, prairie area of the country, though you can run into small packs living in more forested farmlands.

I’ve noticed that when people are looking at sketches of monsters, they tend to lean towards this one quite often. I think it’s because it’s familiar—a big, scary cat. Just as a recommendation: I wouldn’t try petting it.

This is my stippled drawing, 14” W x 12” H I believe. It took me about eight hours. While this is not my favorite of my stippled drawings, other people tend to like it.

This is my stippled drawing, 14” W x 12” H I believe. It took me about eight hours. While this is not my favorite of my stippled drawings, other people tend to like it.

I also made this, which you won’t see me use anywhere else, lol, because it looks dumb. The stippled drawing did not translate well—I mean, look at their tails! Hahahahaha. Anyway, for your enjoyment.

I also made this, which you won’t see me use anywhere else, lol, because it looks dumb. The stippled drawing did not translate well—I mean, look at their tails! Hahahahaha. Anyway, for your enjoyment.

Monster Encyclopedia: Nagy

So, you’ve probably heard me mention monsters (joke, just kidding I know I talk about them incessantly), so I thought I would go into a little detail here on my blog. The most questions I get asked are about the monsters, so expect a few more species-specific posts over the next few weeks!

This is the first sketch I ever did of one.

This is the first sketch I ever did of one.

Today’s monster is a nagy! This is the first monster I ever conceived of, and I’ve been using related imagery for most of my teasers and photos and even the front cover of the book.

When you think of a nagy, the first thing that should pop into your head is: tentacles! Yes, the nagy has tentacles. 12, to be precise. It is the size of a barn and has no bones, but is covered with a mild paralytic slime—meaning, it might make you go numb, but if you get in large doses, you won’t be able to walk.

They have several rows of teeth and an excellent sense of smell. They are incredibly difficult to kill. They are vicious, violent, fast, and luckily, quite rare.

They will eat animals, such as deer or cows, but their preferred meat is human. That said, if hungry enough, they have been known to snack on their fellow gargs, so I guess I wouldn’t say they have very discriminating taste.

If you meet one, run. Find a river to throw it off your scent. Otherwise, get your affairs in order.

This monster is one of the simpler in concept, and I took pieces of it from the Krakken or Cthulu—you know, the typically tentacled monsters. But it was just the beginning…

This is the stippled drawing I did. It’s about 20” W x 14” H. I used sharpies, and it took me about 12 hours.

This is the stippled drawing I did. It’s about 20” W x 14” H. I used sharpies, and it took me about 12 hours.

This one is smaller, but another style I tried with markers. It only took about 2 hours, but I think you can tell, haha.

This one is smaller, but another style I tried with markers. It only took about 2 hours, but I think you can tell, haha.

This is a teaser image I made of tentacles in an abandoned house (abandoned places being basically the entire setting for the book).

This is a teaser image I made of tentacles in an abandoned house (abandoned places being basically the entire setting for the book).

And another abandoned bench + tentacles.

And another abandoned bench + tentacles.

In my head, the nagy sort of represents the series as a whole, so even though it’s the simplest of the monsters, and a lot less complex and interesting than some of the others, it’s probably still the closest to my heart.

Tentacles & Teeth - Survival

31786450_1180026158799690_552304855503339520_n.jpg

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit lax with updating my blog, but I’m back! And i have lots of things to say. First of all, the launch date for Tentacles and Teeth is March 28th! Put it on your calendar. It is up for preorder already, so just click this link if you want to grab a copy at a slightly cheaper price. It will be delivered to your e-reader on the day the book goes live.

Over the next couple months I have some things planned—teaser images, videos, Live Videos, giveaways (free stuff!) so stay tuned for all that! You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for more regular updates.

Before I got too close to launch, though, I wanted to talk a little bit about the theme of the book: survival. Or, as I’ve been saying: #outlast. I had thought about using #survivingthemall (meaning Surviving Them All) but it just looks like Surviving The Mall, which, while hilarious and kind of true, is not really what I was going for.

Anyway, so, the book is set in a post-apocalyptic future with monsters, and the main character has to work to survive said monsters (and other life-threatening situations) on a daily basis—so it takes a pretty obvious approach to survival. In real life, though, survival can look like a lot of different things. It might mean surviving an illness or disease like cancer or a virus; it could mean some kind of physical trauma like an accident or a fire; it might mean surviving emotional pain such as anxiety or depression; and it could be cultural, such as discrimination or prejudice. It could just mean surviving the situation you’re in right now.

Fiction and literature address survival in a lot of contexts. Authors and storytellers like to put their characters in the worst situations they can think of and then force the character to overcome or be changed by the challenge. Think, for a moment, about your favorite characters—pretty much every single one has to face survival in some capacity. In the Hunger Games, for example, the survival component is pretty blatant. Harry Potter too (how many times does he face off against Voldemort?). The Things They Carried, Moby Dick, 1984, Frankenstein, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (just to name a few off the top of my head)—they all address survival (or lack thereof).

IMG_3148.jpg

In my book, “survival” typically happens in the face of monsters. The main characters have to fight or run from giant land octopi with paralyzing slime, or packs of dog-sized lizards with sharp teeth, or horse-sized skeletal cats, or bugs the size of a barn filled with little tiny versions of themselves. They face monster after monster and continue to come out on top (we hope). There are also social and emotional layers of survival. Askari, the main character, has conflicts with the leaders of her community, she has to deal with isolation, feeling like the odd one out—and because she lives in such a harsh environment, these have a direct impact on her ability to survive.

Most of the time, though, I look at the monsters in my series as a metaphor for the challenges we face in real life. Sometimes those challenges (like depression, fighting with our loved ones, betrayal, achieving career goals, beating cancer) take all of our strength, all at once, and it’s absolutely everything you can do just to survive.

We live in a culture that values excellence and achievement. We are told to strive towards the American Dream (whatever that is), and are bombarded with messages to thrive, to be better, to be the best at what we do. But I think that sometimes just surviving is enough. Sometimes surviving takes every last ounce of courage, strength, and endurance that we have. And I think that’s okay.

Before I get any farther into my launch and before the book is published, I wanted to draw your attention to the dedication of my book, which relates directly to this whole theme of survival.

The book is dedicated to my mom, for teaching me how to survive.

outlast-black-tentacles.jpg


For more life, the universe, and monsters, get my blog posts delivered directly to your inbox! Click here.