Backstage Pass! Creating an original Fantasy creature: the Megatrath

The many aspects of the creative writing process includes designing creatures never seen before. I love this process! It brings the fantasy world to life and enables visual representations that make it real for the reader. One such creation was the Megatrath.


Dragons, elves, fairies are all great in fantasy fiction. Also, they are undeniably linked to classic and established fantasy. When writing your own fiction the last thing you want to do is appear to be stuck using other writers’ ideas. While I do appreciate using the classic fantasy creatures in my stories, I find greater satisfaction in designing new ones.

In my old fantasy sketchbooks I have a wealth of creature ideas. These were first conceived of during the initial creation of The Sword of the Dragon story. Looking back, I am glad I took the time to create not only written content, but sketches and maps, too.

For the Megatrath I drew inspiration from the head of an alligator, the tail of a lizard, the feet of a dragon, and then I gave it six legs. The sketch that you see in this post is artist Amber “Vantid” Hill’s representation of one of these creatures. It was not easy at first to get her to sketch what I had envisioned. The process took several hours of live video chat so that the Megatrath turned out right.

You will recognize this creature from my novels Offspring and Key of Living Fire.

Question: Have you envisioned any original creatures that you would like to see used in fantasy novels?


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Most obvious thing about me is how much I love reading and writing. This is truly my passion and has been for almost as long as I can remember. I know that sounds cliche, but it is true. Growing up in a conservative Christian home I learned to value God, intelligence, and life. I am always learning. I am a husband and a father of three young children. I love my family and my life. God is good and I attribute my success to His provision.

Great fantasy stories are a lot of fun. I write the stories that I want to read and am fortunate enough to have several published novels under my belt as well as more in the pipeline.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Backstage Pass! Creating an original Fantasy creature: the Megatrath

  1. I’m writing a novel where dinosaurs live alongside man, but in a time where the word “dinosaur” isn’t even in peoples’ minds. Of course, I’m going to use the word “dragon” as a general term for the creatures, but I can’t think up names that could be differentiators between the different kinds of dinosaurs.
    How did you come up with the name “Megatrath”?
    Do you have any tips on creature naming?

    • Hmm… creature naming. I will have to think on that one. I do have a process that often works for me so look for a post to appear in the next couple months where I will discuss exactly that subject. Thanks for the suggestion! :)

  2. First off, I’m so happy to finally see a drawing of a megatrath! I’ve been wanting a visual for Vectra and her lot for some time now! (Still waiting to find out more about that eight? legged megatrath that Ombre etc… came across)

    Anywho, I have a few species up my sleeve that I’ve had ever since I was a little (most without names of course, partly because I’m not creative enough, and mostly because I’m too lazy to flesh out actual headworld things) The ones with names are Mortiwraiths, Keroel, and Inkar. I could fill up this whole page with stuff just about the Mortiwraiths if I wanted to, but I doubt y’all want to sit here for an hour and read about a species that a seven year old came up with.

    Anywho, looking forward to seeing more of your creatures Appleton, as well as the creatures that other people will hopefully post about. I also have an off topic question. If one were to send you an auction letter for a Christian school auction (that one being my mother), how would she go about it? I’ve looked around the site and I can’t find anything ( I don’t know if it’s just cause I’m not tech savy or what). Anywho, I’ve told her that you’ve been dealing with publisher stuff and whatnot, but she will not let me have any peace until I ask (this is what I get for referring you to the school library).

  3. First of all, I like the sketch of the megatrath EXTREMELY, as I am an artist myself and I was kinda wondering how to picture them… But she coulda been readin my mind when she drew that, and I think it is an excellent representation of one, and closely correlates the description in the book.

    I had a suggestion that I don’t really care if you use or don’t use, since its just a thought, but it might be neat to include sketches of new creatures in the books as you create them (two different ways would be either the back of the book, or the first time they’re mentioned) I realize this would take a lot of time and effort, so feel free to just ignore it if you don’t have time.

    As to an original creature, I do have an idea that I will try to sketch out for you. I was thinking of something based remotely on the Beast in Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast or the wargs of Lord of the Rings. Maybe make them/it about 8-12 ft long, with a slightly more elongated snout and longer teeth than the ‘beast’, with a ridge of spikes along its spine that it can fold down for a more comfortable seat (If you wanted them to act like the wargs do, and substitute for horses). I was thinking possibly of venom like a snake’s, an extremely tough hide (like a wild boar’s, which can deflect arrows and is impervious to scorching), and perhaps making them talk, like the megatraths and other animals in your series. Maybe fly…?

    If you used them, you might have them come down from the northwest, from beyond Netroth, or if you have Ilfedo’s people move east to soon for that, then they could be an indigenous species og the land across the sea (Perhaps the dragon’s allies, perhaps their bitterest enemies)…

    Anyway, I won’t feel at all bad if you don’t use my suggestions, I’ve just been considering them for a while and thought I’d vent them on you! :) Hope you haven’t been bored stiff reading this “epistle”!

    Thanks for writing!

    • Not at all, Jack! I like getting “epistles” like this :)

      I should feel bad taking your ideas but I am happy to receive creative input at any time. And thanks for your high praise of my books! Maybe you can give me a sketch of this creature so that I can incorporate it into a future novel?

      The challenge with creating sketches of all the creatures is that it gets very expensive… I paid hundreds of dollars for the megatrath sketch. But I do want to create a Visual Guide to the Creatures of The Sword of the Dragon series. That is in the pipeline but it’s on the back burner while I write the novels.