The Story of My Book: Vulpes
Vulpes first came to me while running, when my playlist rolled onto The Futureheads' cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’. The idea was almost fully-formed before I made it home, which wasn’t long – I was never committed to running anyway. The fox in the song is passive, dying, but I have a tendency to think in a contradictory manner; antonyms come to mind before synonyms, and I began to imagine a fox that was defiant when facing death. What could a fox do to resist a pack of hounds? And so I had the character of a spiteful fox, at terms with her own death, toying with her predators and generally messing with everybody’s heads to amuse herself on the way out. Having a protagonist who causes problems for the sake of it makes stringing a narrative together an easy task.
Of course there are already many stories involving European woodland creatures – how could I justify scribbling out yet another one? I had that thought, and considered trying to tell the story with Australian animals, to try and make the story more locally relevant. But there is already an amazing tradition of stories involving Australian animals interacting in the bush, one that has been around for thousands of years. However, our culture is for the most part the transplanting of a European mindset on the Australian landscape, and so too is my story; foxes, rabbits, dogs and cats chase and tease each other beneath magpies and eucalypti and unvoiced possums glare down from the branches.
If I had known it would take so long to complete, would I have still bothered? I began this story out of love of comics and graphic novels; I had a story that gave me a reason to draw, but after a few months of rapidly churning out pages and a few chapters completed, the size of the project I had started weighed me down. I doubted I could complete it to a standard that even came close to what I had imagined. Weeks would go by when I would only produce a page or two, and even a postcard from the dentist would have been a welcome excuse to avoid working on it.
But then at the halfway mark I found new motivation when my daughter was born. It might seem counter-intuitive to claim that having a baby would help me focus on a creative pursuit, but becoming a parent made me appraise myself more harshly. I wanted more than anything for my daughter to grow up with a sense of self-respect and purpose and would not be able to help her do this if I did not try to achieve this for myself. I worked harder, started smiling more and gave more of a crap about everything in general. And promised myself I would see things through to the end, including this graphic novel.
And now I have to start running again until the next idea hits me. Cue up the playlist.