Good news! I got the inside scoop on this ṣafat malarkey. I’d save it for the final ABC product, but I need to nip any misunderstandings in the bud before they get out of hand and people start labeling their giant sky cruisers with that name.

First, some breadcrumbing. The ṣafat bird (note the dot under the s – that’s a ص) seems to have originally come from (where else?) Rose’s Giants, Monsters, and Dragons, which in turn got it from Barber’s Dictionary, which itself obtained it from Lum’s Fabulous Beasts. I do not have that last book. Impasse.

I do, however, have access to the most powerful search engines known to humanity, and hey presto – looks like the ur-reference for the ṣafat is Hanauer’s Tales Told in Palestine.

Going by the title alone, it’s clear that the ṣafat is not an “Arabian” animal. In the text Azrael – the Angel of Death himself – shows off ṣafat eggshells as something that is a cause of death . He describes the ṣafat as a wonderful bird that never lands (no mention is given as to its size, so I can only assume it’s normal-sized and not huge). It even lays eggs in flight, and the young hatch before they reach the ground. But then they are often eaten by a shibah (described as resembling a badger-hyena cross. Zorilla? Aardwolf?), which then becomes rabid, goes mad, bites things, and gives Azrael more customers.

There you have it. Far from being a mere permaflier like the allerion or bird of paradise, it’s literally the cause of rabies.

Clarfication: the eggshells are eaten and cause rabies. The shibah/shibeh is the leopard (!).

Wow! Thank you! Response to my Big Question has been overwhelmingly positive, so I’m working on getting the ball rolling for the ultimate version of ABC! I still have a few questions that I would like to ask you, dear readers, so bear with me.

Some things are more certain than others. Of note:

    • The final ABC product will have far more than what’s actually on the site. I’ve conspicuously left out a lot of big names (dragons, unicorns…) as well as lots more unknown creatures, so there’s no shortage of creatures to flesh out ABC.
    • Not only that, but the final version of ABC will have more artwork/sketches to supplement the ones that are already on the site. And, of course, all-new art for the new entries. I want even long-time readers to feel justified in making this purchase.
    • But based on the above two points, it will take a while to finish up the writing and illustration. The timespan depends on how much of my time I can afford to devote to the project.
    • As of now, my plans are for a physical copy. I do not have any current plans to make an ebook, but that might change with time.
    • As of now, I have been unable to secure a response from a literary agent (barring one painful experience) so it looks like crowdfunding is the way to go.

Other things are less certain, and here’s where I need your help. You don’t have to respond, I certain won’t think less of you if you don’t, but answering one or more of these questions will help me gauge how I should be attacking this problem.

  1. What size book would you want ABC to be, if it was physical? Options range from coffee-table to field guide and everything in between. Any book you can mention that approximates the desired volume?
  2. What kind of format would you prefer ABC to take? This ties in to the previous question – maybe you want a pocket-sized brick with entries in neat boxes. Or something, I’m not judging.
  3. Do you want a complete final ABC book, or a selectively incomplete book to expedite its creation and/or reduce its mass?
    1. What if I left stuff out (e.g. humanoids)?
    2. What if I made it in multiple volumes?
    3. What if I left out the illustrations? … nah, just kidding, but would a text-only Dictionary of Creatures be appealing to some readers?
  4. Would you want me to hire real illustrators and/or designers and/or technowizards to speed up the process?
  5. Do you have strong opinions on crowdsourcing? Any websites in particular you’d recommend (or recommend I avoid)?
    1. Reminder that I do not live in or belong to any of the Kickstarter-approved countries, so that’s definitely out.
  6. If crowdsourcing happens, anything you’d like to see as reward tiers besides increasing amounts of ABC copies?

As before, respond in whatever format seems fit to you, or not at all, and not all of the questions have to be answered either. All opinions are welcomed. ABC reserves the right to tactfully ignore select opinions.

Are you excited? I sure am!

Alright, so I said I was going to pause on new entries for the moment. And that I was working on something big. Or at least planning on working on something big. Working on planning on working on something big?

So here it is.

The big question.

Would there be interest in a printed book version of A Book of Creatures?

Just that. Further details forthcoming depending on response. Please answer and/or send feedback via your pick of email, tumblr, facebook, cell phone, word of mouth, Pony Express, telegram, and carrier pigeon. ABC values your opinion!

Once again, it’s time for ABC to take a well-deserved hiatus for new entries for the summer. But it’s not a complete stop, oh no! Just a pause on new content. Asides will come up sporadically. Wednesday “interludes” will still published. And I’m going to be working on something big… something that may change the face of teratology as we know it… stay tuned.

Dear readers of ABC, once again the time has come for the author to take a brief sabbatical that is entirely unrelated to ABC and entirely related to things happening in the Real World (TM). Don’t worry, it will be for two weeks only (this is a promise!) and when I get back you’ll have your regular fix of creatures as scheduled.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, etc. etc.