Guest Blog: Making Monsters by Karina Fabian

by Emerian Rich

How to Make Monsters

By Karina Fabian

karinachainsaw2The zombie stopped whacking its midsection on the turnstile and faced Ted. 

“Ride’s broken,” Ted hollered.

“Pea green,” the creature slurred and started to breakdance.  “Take a ride…moneee…marriage…pussy…carriage!”

Neeta didn’t give herself a chance to freeze in surprise, but dashed forward and swung her chainsaw.

At the last minute, however, the zombie crouched, and her blade missed its head by inches.  Balancing on one hand, it moved its feet around it in a downrock move that took Neeta out at the ankles.  With a squeal she fell back, flinging her chainsaw away from her.  Even with the canister of repellent on her back, her helmet smacked hard against the concrete.

I am not a big zombie fan, so when I was asked to write a zombie story, then a novel, I needed to make the zombies into creatures I could have fun with, but I didn’t want them to be sympathetic characters, either. I wanted Romero zombies with a liberal dose of slapstick.

Fortunately, changing monsters and other enchanted creatures is a very acceptable practice nowadays.  Twilight is the most obvious twisting, of course.  Larry Corriea’s elves are trailer trash; Jim Butcher has a succubus who’s a hairdresser—a very successful hairdresser.  I have my third Zombie Exterminator book, Shambling in a Winter Wonderland, coming soon, and the audiobook of I Left My Brains in San Francisco is available in Audible. So really, the trick isn’t seeking permission to go against a common monster trope—it’s finding a way to make your monsters so interesting that your readers don’t care if they sparkle and not burst into flames in sunlight.

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDI teach a class on monster creation, and if you’re interested, you can register for the October 19th class here. In the meantime, here are a few ground rules I think apply when creating or adopting your own mythical creatures, and then we’ll take questions.

  1. Make them recognizable:  There needs to be enough of the traditional, time-honored aspects that folks know you mean a zombie or a werewolf or whatever. Even Stephanie Meyer gave a passing nod to the tradition of vampires eschewing the sun (even if it just makes them glittery.)
  2. Make changes that serve the story. There’s no point in making your ghosts glow bright colors in the daytime unless you then have a reason—or want to toss in a fun side plot about how they impersonate neon signs in the day, thus explaining why so many live in Vegas.
  3. Make sure you consider the consequences. If your werewolves not are immune to silver, then what other sure way is there to kill them?  If your fairies use a glamour to make themselves look human sized, how do they pick things up, change clothes, or take someone’s hand, without others noticing they aren’t corporeal?
  4. Have fun!

It’s not hard to create monsters; the challenge is in finding the key element you can manipulate to give them a twist that makes them yours.

If you’d like to learn more and decide to take my creature creation class, use the coupon code HorrorAddicts to get 20% off.

 Karina Fabian is an award-winning fantasy, science fiction author writes comedic horror that will make you die laughing and come back for more.  Check out her latest at

Karina’s Blog Tour: