East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Finding a giant monster

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boy-throwing-baseball-c1930s-h-armstrong-robertsclassicstockI am about to pitch a new story to one of my long-suffering publishers.
I’m probably working on too many different projects at the same, but when a good idea and an opening appears, I like to jump at it. I can do without sleep for a few days, but not without a steady income – and as a freelance writer of genre fiction, this means writing a lot, and selling as much as possible.

And actually, I am currently working on three separate pitches, that will hit different publishers in the next few days…

  • One for a surreal fantasy story, put together upon request by a fine Italian publisher. I should call this an”urban fantasy”, because the setting is a city in the modern day, but my story does not share any of the basic elements today associated with Urban Fantasy – no teenage Goth girls in love with angels, no tattooed badass biker chicks hunting vampires, no witches bickering.
  • One for a collaboration, a very fun fantasy project we’ll pitch to both Italian and English-language publishers.
  • And one for a big monster novel.

And talking about big monsters…

download (2)I posted the trailer for The MEG, a few days back, and then I got in a discussion with a friend about the very poor science of discovering a colossal living fossil, and wanting to kill it.
And while I’ll still check out the movie, I had to agree that one could have as much fun, as many action scenes and as many thrills with a story about a bunch of poorly-paid university researchers tackling a colossal monster from the past, trying to save their skin and put together enough data to publish a few papers in academical journals.

And at that point I had the basic premise for my story.
The idea is to do a book about the thrill of science – and then yes, also adventure, danger, action, but something a little smarter than

let’s kill the monster!

Now I only needed a monster.
But the good part of being a paleontologist, instead of, say, a Lit Major, is that I don’t have to look very far to find me a big, kickass prehistoric monster.
Like, say… Livyatan melvillei.


L. melvillei sat on top of the oceanic food chain ten million years ago. And indeed, it had all the right numbers to do so…

60 – its length in feet
10 – the length of its jaw, in feet
40 – its teeth
14 – the length of its teeth, in inches


L. melvillei was a sperm whale.
A big water-adapted mammalian.
Imagine a 60-feet long killer whale.

True, the Livyatan is not the most original of sea monsters (Steve Alten of MEG’s fame used it already), but it’s a monster that has a certain bite (aha!), and compared to sharks and other oversize marine fauna, it is likely to be a pack hunter. Which makes things very interesting.


Now I’ve got my pitch here on my desktop. I’ll let it rest for one day, and I’ll send it along tomorrow.
And let’s see what happens.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Finding a giant monster

  1. Pingback: New contract, new book | Karavansara

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