I am a huge fan of urban fantasy. I've written one book about a kinky vampire, and there will be shapeshifter books in the future. My trip to the zoo has promised there will be a jaguar shapeshifting Dom, and possibly a coyote hanging around somewhere in another book.
My daughter's class had a field trip to our very small local zoo last week. The jaguars were pretty active and we spent some time hanging out and watching them. A few interesting things happened while we were there, all of which made me write things with a pen and paper on the bus on the way back to school. Which never happens -- I type, I don't write.
First, one of the jaguars came right up to the glass and stood and looked at me. Right in the eyes. From about six inches away. It was powerful, and I definitely knew if the glass weren't there that I was the one who was prey, and the jaguar was the predator. It was a beautiful moment, though, and the kids were all awed by it as much as me. We were traveling around the zoo with smaller groups of the kids, so it was two adults and six kids in our group. At one point we had 12 kindergarteners there, and one of the kindergarten teachers was there at that point as well, pointing out cool details. Like how the jaguar's spots had spots in them. That pretty much settled it for me, I've got a jaguar shifter in my head now, just waiting for me to write him and make him real. I picked up so many of those small details while sitting there... I've already written the section of the book where the woman will first see him as a jaguar. I don't have any of the rest of the book written, but that part is on my hard drive waiting for the rest of the story.
The other thing that happened? Jaguar sex. Five feet from the window, plane as day, the male jag mounts the female and starts pumping. Without missing a beat the kindergarten teacher says, "Oh look, they're wrestling". The female tries to get away and the male grabs her by the back of the neck so she can't move away from him. They fall to their left, so they are both laying on their sides -- the male still pumping away, the female still trying to get away. The male has her trapped with his paws, and he's still holding her by the back of the neck. She's trying to turn her head to bite at him, but she can't reach him. She doesn't want to be there. He doesn't care. The whole thing was over in less than two minutes. When he finally let her go he tried to get as far away from her as possible as quickly as possible, but she got one good swipe of her paw in at him that sent him sideways a few steps. Good for her.
Later we spent some time at the coyote's enclosure. She was pretty interested in the kids for a while, and I'm pretty sure she would have had at least one of them for dinner had she been able to get at them. They thought she was playing with them, I was pretty sure she was trying to get through the glass to eat them. Once they got through "playing" with her they ran around in a meadow across the walkway from her for a bit, and I sat on the fake rocks with my back to the glass to watch the kids running around, making sure none of the six kids in my care ran off where I couldn't see them. We had enough parents in a semicircle around them that they seemed safe, but I still found myself counting down my six a few times. I heard and felt something behind me, and I turned my head to look behind me. The coyote had jumped up so her feet would have been on my shoulders had the glass not been there. I turned a bit farther and we did the "look into my eyes" thing for a few very long seconds. All I could think about while sitting there was that Patricia Briggs must have spent a lot of time with a coyote. Oh, and the idea that the coyote is the trickster. This coyote knew she would startle me. She was trying to get a reaction out of me. I could see the devilment and mischievousness in her eyes. I don't know if I'll write a coyote shifter into a book as a main character, but I've got an idea of how to write one in as a secondary character, part of the supporting cast of characters. It gets tricky though, to not write the character to be similar to Mercy Thompson. I'll have to play around with that idea for a bit, let it percolate in my head for a while.
Yesterday was just one of those days, I think. I spent thirty minutes in front of the wolf enclosure at the Nature Center last week with the kindergarteners and I didn't get any writing inspiration at all. Now that I think about it though, the huge eagle's nest example they had should have given me some ideas. I had no idea eagle's nests were so big.
My daughter's class is visiting two more zoos in the next two weeks. I'm going to take a notepad and pen so I can take notes easier, and I'm also thinking that maybe I'll experiment around with an app for my phone that will let me use it as a voice recorder so I can give myself some notes that way.
Now I just need more time to write all of these stories and characters that are in my head.