This story first started when we were watching my hamster, Misty (now dead), climbing around in her cage. She was actually pretty awesome, and my brother suggested making a story about hamsters, but setting it in a world a little like Mistmantle. Now, I’d better explain just what Mistmantle is. It’s a small island in a medieval-style time inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, mostly squirrels, hedgehogs, otters and moles, that features in the excellent book series ‘the Mistmantle Chronicles’. I would highly recommend this series for anyone 8-16, possibly older. Anyway, back to the whole hamster thing. I pointed out that although hamsters would be pretty epic heroes, most people would probably have a hard time taking them seriously (I know I would), so we decided on using mice and other rodents instead. One thing my brother was very big on was, we should try to be original in assigning alignments to different species. Hence we had a whole country full of good-guy rats (not wanting to go down the clichéd ‘rats are always evil’ path), and assigned Egyptian Spiny Mice as the main villains, at least to start off with.
Then we added some Capybaras for the Spiny Mice to ride, and hamsters did make it in to the story eventually, but not as major characters.
We decided that Almavavlia would be the name of the country where the story is set, and it would be inhabited by three kinds of mice, (house mice, known as ‘grey mice’, yellow-necked wood mice, and field mice), European water voles, and shrews. There would also be chinchillas, which would not be anthropomorphic but used as riding animals.
Admittedly, the story did not instantly become a book, but started out as a kind of RPG-type game we’d play. I also started on a little booklet about the country and drew a few maps, one full colour, the others black and white. Then the whole idea was practically forgotten for several months, before re-emerging with my idea of actually writing a book about it as originally planned. It’s still in the concept stage, but I do have a basic plot which I am currently sorting out properly. So that’s the basic idea so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy the concept art, country and character information, and, eventually, book chapters, that I will be posting from now on.