It was nearly 40 years ago, when I first conceived of the idea for “The Blue Unicorn’s” story. I had read a lot of fantasy books which completely mesmerized me. The ones which really stood out to me were books like “Watership Down” by Richard Adams (which was about a rabbit warren with members who thought and acted like humans), “Dragonriders of Pern” by Anne McCaffrey (with dragons which could speak to humans telepathically), “The Oz” books by L. Frank Baum (with the talking lion, talking monkeys, talking chickens and more), “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll (with the talking white rabbit and the Cheshire cat) and oh so many others.
I was fascinated by the idea, throughout all of the different stories, that animals could be reasoning creatures – that they could love and war and exist as communities within themselves or with humans. But I was especially influenced by the unicorns from Phaze in Piers Anthony’s “Apprentice Adept Series”. Those unicorns ranged in a multitude of colors and were as intelligent as humans. They were musical and magical, too. I was also enamored with the word play in Piers Anthony’s writing style. He would take ordinary words and give them completely different but clever meanings. I wanted to try my hand at that style of writing so I set about developing the metal-horned unicorn tribe from Unimaise.
Each would have a different metal horn with coat, mane and tail colors derived somehow from the properties of the metal. For instance, since burning copper has green flames, the copper-horned unicorn is green. The unicorns would each have a different magic power somehow associated with the properties of their metal. Since copper was once used exclusively for water pipes because it was thought to keep water flowing through it clean, the copper-horned unicorn’s magic power is to purify water. That’s the theme I tried to stick with in developing all of the characters but I had to use a lot of poetic license at times. Only one unicorn would be different. He would have no metal and no magic. The story is about the blue unicorn’s quest to save his tribe despite his overwhelming “disabilities”. Having no magic or metal in a tribe of magical metal-horned unicorns can make life very difficult.
After intense research in dictionaries, encyclopedias and real library books, I ended up with index cards for each unicorn and all of the other characters that I wanted to feature in the story. I wrote a very long outline and summary and even drew a detailed map of the land of MarBryn. After typing up about 50 pages of the story, I just came to a screeching halt and didn’t start up again until a couple of years ago. Life just got in the way.
The “Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm Illustrated Book” for teens and older readers finally came to life in 2015. Originally, this book was going to be an adult fantasy but after becoming acquainted with the amazingly talented Sudipta Dasgupta, I decided I wanted this to be an illustrated book that could appeal to a younger audience. I had nearly finished the novel by the time he approached me about doing the illustrations. In order to best present his artwork, I realized that I was going to have to minimize the total word count and enlarge the page sizes.
I went through the very tedious process of reducing the story text so that each chapter would fit into just two pages which would precede a picture spreading across two pages. The best reading experience is definitely the print version but it is available in all ebook formats also. In addition to reducing the word count, I also simplified a lot of the text but I left in many concepts that (in some people’s opinions) placed the book beyond the middle grade age group. Since many parents wish to protect their children from subjects like war and death as long as possible I decided to rate this book for for teens and up. I have tried to write an appealing story for all ages to enjoy but I think it is up to each reader, no matter what their age might be, to decide for themselves about whether it reaches out to them or not.
My original intention was to only make the illustrated book available in full color but I was completely unaware that so many full color pages would make the printing cost exorbitant. I was particularly devastated when I found out how much the 188 page illustrated book was going to cost customers. That dilemma led me to the bright idea of having all of the illustrations reworked in black and white. The incredibly talented artist, Sudipta Dasgupta, and his team created what look look like old fairy tale woodcuts. Those pictures remind me of the days when I was reading The Wizard of Oz books and daydreaming about faraway lands populated with fantastic creatures.
I’m happy to say that my idea paid off because printing the black and white version of this book costs 1/3 the price of the full color. That price reduction puts it within the realm of most reader’s pocket books. Plus I now have the added benefit of promoting it as a “Read and Color” book. Read a chapter, then color the following pictures. What’s more fun than that?
The story is also available in audio book form on most of the online audio book websites. I love how the narrator, Troy Hudson, brought the characters to vibrant life.
There’s also a children’s storybook version titled “Unicorns From Unimaise – The Magical Metal-Horned Tribe”. It is meant to introduce little ones to the 12 member unicorn tribe and the land of MarBryn (where the story takes place).
Soon, I’ll be publishing an expanded full-length adult fantasy version of the blue unicorn tale along with the companion “glossary” book, “The MarBryn Compendium”.
Last but not least, unicorn lovers can find lots of book related unicorn bling on zazzle.com – just search for Journey to Osm to see nearly 100 items featuring pictures from the book.
More will be coming in the future.
Sybrina Durant is the author of many different types of books. Some are technical and others are fanciful. Illustrated books are her favorite. She believes that you can capture a reader’s attention with a good story but amazing artwork will reel them in and keep them riveted.