There are several significant influences on Issaura’s Claws and the Incarn Saga series. Animal behavior is definitely a forerunner and one that had a huge impact on many of my main characters. I chose to study animal psychology, aka animal behavior, in college in addition to pursuing a degree in art. Learning to understand the sounds and body language of animals thrilled me. I had already become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the state of Georgia and worked directly with wildlife. Moreover, I had apprenticed in dog training as well as interned at the Audubon Zoo.
All these experiences helped me when developing and writing about the Theriomorph race since they can transform into animal forms. I was able to intertwine various animal characteristics, physical and psychological, even when the Theriomorphs were in their human form. For example, the protagonist, Lluava, is a Theriomorph whose dual form is that of a white tigress. Physically, she has platinum blond hair yet very black eyebrows. She is also fierce, brave, strong, and a little hot-tempered. On the other hand, there is Chat, a bucktoothed, ruddy haired young boy. He never runs out of questions or energy. His animal form is a red squirrel.
Vikings were the inspiration for the villainous Raiders who threaten to destroy the kingdom of Elysia. Being of Swedish descent, I am drawn to this historical people. For several years, I have been researching Viking history, culture, weapons and warfare, even common misconceptions. The more I learn, the more I appreciate and respect their often-unacknowledged influence on the world.
Another important influence is mythology. Growing up, I collected encyclopedias of beasts and beings along with anthologies of world myths and legends. A minor theme in Issaura’s Claws compares the human race’s monotheistic beliefs with the Theriomorph race’s polytheism. The Greco-Roman pantheon as well as ancient Egyptian religion inspired both my creation of the twelve Theriomorph gods and goddesses and their relationships amongst one another.
Finally, I feel strongly about the unwarranted prejudice of those different from oneself. Throughout this book and the rest of the series, the reader will see how racism, religious persecution and sexism affect the relationships between the ruling human race and the Theriomorph society. In Issaura’s Claws, Raiders attack the kingdom. If both humans and Theriomorphs cannot overcome their differences and learn to trust each other and work together, they will surely succumb to their shared enemy.