NJORD'S GUIDE TO THE SEA OF MONSTERS
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When I was a child, I felt there were two pathways for me in life: either to be a marine biologist or an author/illustrator. I decided to pursue the latter, but growing up learning of the environmental atrocities humans inflict on the world’s oceans distressed me greatly. The looming threats climate change and pollution pose on oceanic ecosystems pushed me to create a book encompassing all of my skills and interests in a fantastical and educational way: a middle-grade, 20,000 to 25,000 word, heavily illustrated fantasy field guide titled Njord’s Guide to the Sea of Monsters. Stylistically, it is similar to other titles including Dragonology by Dougald Steer, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, How to Raise and Keep a Dragon by Joe Nigg, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling. What is great about this style of middle-grade book is the mindset that readers are able to approach them with. They invoke a sense of curiosity and discovery that is unmatched in the literary world. Furthermore, the format of these books encourages an attentive, academic approach, despite the fantastical nature of the subject matter. These two attributes make a fantasy field guide the perfect medium in which to teach children about the important topics of our time. The story and worldbuilding of Njord’s Guide to the Sea of Monsters is similar to The Swarm by Frank Schätzing, in that marine creatures begin to collectively fight against humanity, influenced by a powerful life-force, as means to end ecolog- ical atrocities. Njord’s Guide to the Sea of Monsters was written about 1,500 years after an apocalypse triggered by humanity’s fight against a colossal, deity-like sea monster (based on the World Serpent in Norse Mythology). This sea monster, which had been freed from its prison of glacial ice due to climate change, began to attack coastal cities. Humanity fought back and the blow that killed the creature, now known as The Great Blaze, though it annihilated the corporeal body of the sea monster, did not extinguish its magical power. The original sea monster's power permeated the ocean, becoming absorbed by sever- al marine species in the region which had been vulnerable to extinction. These creatures gained some of the original sea monster’s strength, size, and rage, making the seas become the most dangerous places on Earth. Njord’s Guide to the Sea of Monsters, created by renowned Captain Marcelline Njord, documents the origins, biology, and personal accounts of these sea monsters, preparing young sailors for encounters with terrifying creatures including an amalgamation of fish that can turn entire ships to splinters in seconds, a great beast chained to the sea floor, an ancient and unforgiving guardian, and creatures with clever ways to lure and deceive sailors. With Njord’s Guide to the Sea of Monsters, sailors can hope for safe passage across the Northern Atlantic.
These illustrations for "The Raven," by Edgar Allen Poe, will eventually be printed as a zine. Upon completion, the zine will feature nine illustrated two page spreads with one stanza of the poem on each page.