Inspiration for creating fantasy creatures is as close as your local aquarium

This past Sunday, my family and I drove from the west coast of Florida to Orlando.  It was a dual purpose trip:  one to meet a fellow author and friend I’ve been talking to for almost 2 years online, and two, to visit Sea World.  Meeting my online friend and hanging out with her and her family for the whole day at the park was amazing.  We got along as well together in person as we have online and on the phone.  I feel very blessed we were able to meet and solidify our friendship.

Sea World itself offered up some surprises as well.  If you’re a writer, then you know you can never turn off the writer in you, no matter what the occasion.  It could be a funeral and you’ll always look for something to take note of for future stories.  To my surprise, glorious inspiration came to me inside the aquarium.  What caught my fascination?

Sea dragons.

Yes, Matilda, there are such thing as Sea Dragons, and when I met them, my brain flipped on and all sorts of ‘fantasy’ stories started firing in my head.  I mean, look at these guys.  They’re known as Leafy Sea Dragons.


My mouth dropped when I saw them.  Aren’t they magnificent?

But the wonders didn’t stop here.  On the other side of the same vertical tank were delightful creatures known as Weedy Sea Dragons.  I spent close to an hour hovering around this tank, taking notes about how they moved, what they looked like.  There was even a pair of Weedy’s that stayed very close to each other, as if they might be a mating pair.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of them together as my camera phone wasn’t cooperating very well, but I do have these to share from other websites.  (If you look carefully in the 2nd picture above, you can see a Weedy swimming in the background to the right).

Truly spectacular.

Needless to say, I must write about these beautiful, unusual species.  In fact, I already have an idea of how to incorporate them in the last novel of my Chronicles of Fallhollow series.

What about you?  Do you use real-life animals as inspiration to write fictional creatures?