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Leopold: Designing Alien Species

Originally posted at Love Bytes in October 2018.

Good day folks!

Thanks for joining me to celebrate my newest release, Leopold (Saga of the Bold People 1). It is an m/m romance sci-fi epic, and it’s the first book of a 6-book saga. I am super excited to finally release this bad boy that’s taken me around eight years to revise and edit.

When I first wrote this book I didn’t think much about the alien species. I made them up as I went along and didn’t put as much work into designing them as I should have. In subsequent revisions I did. I decided to design my aliens after insects and top predators. Insects are fascinating in their resilience, variety, and anatomy. I also thought it would be fun to think of a universe dominated by variations of wolves and big cats. I amused myself greatly with the variety of cultural norms, and had to create a species chart to keep all the details straight!

I wanted humans to be aberrations. We’re not, technically, top predators, and yet we’re the dominate species of our planet. How odd would that be for aliens to comprehend? I have a wide story arch for this series and the human species as stand-outs among other alien species is a part of that.

I also write shifter stories for Dreamspinner Press, which require me to research top predators. That helped immensely when determining the look and culture of the mrrogs, the species I spend the most time with in Leopold.

Leopold’s love interest and main opponent is Mastrodai, a prince of the Mrrog Nation. I ended up taking my favorite qualities of wolves and cats and combining them. That’s the lovely advantage of sci-fi (and fantasy)—you can play around with form and function and create a brand new creature. Mrrogs have golden skin, the shades depending on where they live, and either brown or black hair. Their eyes are yellow with slit pupils, like a cat’s. They also purr to soothe and to show pleasure or happiness. But they can also growl like wolves when angered, and I gave them double-kneed legs, allowing them to run on all fours if needed.

The most important quality to their society, to my mind, is their understanding of the importance of both male and female roles. The role of female as mother and nurturer is not seen as less than the role of male as protector and warrior. They are both needed if a society is to flourish. I also added a third gender to their culture—females who have no desire to marry and breed become physicians. Essentially, they are not seen as female anymore. Being a physician is their gender, and they are respected and honored for their choice. Physicians will stay with a family for generations and care for everyone in that family. Only females can become physicians since there are more females than males born.

Other species of aliens have different genders and societal norms. I explore them a bit when Leopold encounters each species. He spent his childhood with humans but his adult years were among aliens. He has no opinion one way or another on gender identity and pairings. Oddly enough, he’s probably one of the most accepting humans because he just doesn’t care about things that don’t affect him. Yes, he’s an assassin, and his hatred for aliens runs deep, but it’s because of their treatment of humans and not the inner-workings of their culture.

He’s a predator in his own right and that is what attracts Mastrodai in the first place.

But I’ll stop right there and not spoil anything for you.

I am currently working on four series simultaneously (because I am a glutton for punishment, apparently) and several stand-alones with plans for a couple of trilogies.

I have three stories contracted with Dreamspinner Press for 2019: a vampire story, the latest shifter book (#13), and the prequel to “On Wings of Thunder.”

Until next time,

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm


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