One of the most common questions that people ask writers is: "Where did you get the idea for
<insert story, person, object, critter, event, etc. here>?"
Addressing that story the long way around, I am going to start by telling a (hopefully) short tale.
A number of years ago, I was reading a book on the history of the Gurhka soldiers who served in
the British Army, and I came across an interesting word. It is the word for lowest rank of
Viceroy's Commissioned Officer (VCO) in the British Indian Army. The word is Jemadar. For those
of you who did not watch Star Trek:DS9, there was a bad-guy species, bred to be warriors, that
were fighting against the Federation. They were called the Jem'Hadar.
I made an amazing discovery that day. I discovered that science fiction writers use terms and
ideas from all sorts of Earth cultures, civilizations, and languages ... and they do it all the time! I
also learned another extremely important lesson: Imagination can be learned. Knowledge and
information are the first steps toward launching yourself into a universe that no one else has ever
seen and that only exists inside your own head until you commit it to print.
All of which leads (rather slowly, I'm afraid) to the creation of Body Shop.
The challenge that resulted in this story asked that the Farscape characters encounter a species
that we never saw in canon. I began by running over to one of my bookshelves where I keep a
collection of 3-ring binders. One of those binders is labelled "Aliens", and it is full of pages that I
took out of National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Scientific American. Every time I see a picture
of some Earth critter or organism that I think looks other-worldly, I save it in that binder. Just for
the record, the other binders are labelled Landscapes & Scenery (for other planets), Terms/
Phrases/Language, Living & Traveling In Space, and Fragments/Plot Ideas.
In other words, I save up imagination triggers. That is where I get some of my ideas for stories or
elements within stories.
I will wrap this up with three images of the ki’irkarik from Body Shop. All three of these are
members the family Cranchiidae -- known more commonly as glass squid. There are over 60
species of glass squids, and they range in size from approximately 3 inches to over 9 feet in
length. I assume John and Aeryn ran into a space-going big brother of these (relatively) little guys.
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