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Why We Chose Phylum For Family

Note from Cass: This is a guest blog #5 on how my husband created the world for my book and why we chose phylum instead of family. To read more world-building posts, click here.

world-building phylum

So we now had a decent structure of the families and a deep dive into the Shifters, which come under Family Moon. 

A couple of things came up in various conversations.  

The first one was purely linguistic: Family. It is a fine word, but it has too many other meanings when you are using it in a piece of fiction that folks are likely to read on the train. The obvious place to go is Science! Because Science! (which had a fun Youtube channel for a while). So…. not wanting to reuse a word in the common vernacular, we settled on Phylum.  

I know, I know, rolls right off the tongue, yeah? Erm, yeah. 

But the word broadly fits as a fictional taxonomic rank, you know, given it is a real taxonomic rank and all. We didn’t want to use Kingdom or any of the other ranks, as they ultimately had the same problem as Family. Other common meanings for the same word. So, 12 Phyla, each Phylum has various Species who all share specific traits. Species can’t interbreed (IIRC one of the key definitions of a species). Below that you have Races, which are effective types of each species. Using Tolkien as an example, Noldor and Sindar would be races of the Elf Species. Of course they are not part of Cass’ book. Cos you know… I like worldbuilding for fun. Also Copyright. But mainly fun.  

Next big one came really in two parts. It was of course the first major rework of the overall ranking of the Phyla (see what I did there, using the clever but short word, straight away so you don’t forget it). The First and the Second remained as they were. But original number three was a problem. Something had to change. Ok, that is so vague and so far from spoilers that I could literally be translating the Prose Edda. So, let me try that again. We radically changed the Third, demoting them down to 5. The reordering made sense and helped create a better fit of the narrative within the world lore.  

So that just really got me started, and in a very merry monologue I narrated the new order and species themes. 3 and 4 became something of a mix of my understanding of Astrophysics, Quantum Mechanics and Cthulhu. Obvious really.  

The new number 5 also got a complete overhaul. I always knew some of the elements of them, but had them worded wrong, which lead me to places where I could not see them clearly. Now however, what they are, their meta-history, the way they tend to act all fit. And, as a bonus, changing all the descriptors moved them into a space that the reader will more easily understand.  They are The Guides. Nuff said. At least by me. 

However, then we got on a roll for the second part of the re-work. I was into the Fae races, faeries, elves etc. Cass wants a lot of them, so we have a lot. These are all in group six. The Thought. So… have those been done before? Maybe? I mean I used to go to the RSC when I was younger, even the Globe a couple of times. I am sure that is not relevant though. Let me ask you something… you know Fae can’t lie right? Do you know why? Well, at least in this variant we do know. And no, it is not that they can’t. 

Then came all the rest, Stone, Motion, Cold, Seasons and the already covered Shifters in Phylum Moon. The Multitude. These are the Phlya that make up the characters of Cass’ world. They now have more depth and clarity.  

And I guess that is the point of this post. We had something that worked. It was from an idea Cass wanted, the 12 races. Which became a different 12 Families (though some things still there). Which got lifted to a whole new level of clarity with 12 distinct Phyla. Definitely a team effort and as I said a post or two ago, something neither of us would have gotten to alone.  

A note on Date Night book conversations (does it count as a segue, if it is the last thing you write?). We tend to do date night one or two nights a week. This is something we do consistently, and though we do occasionally get out of the habit for no particular reason, we always pick them up again pretty soon. We like the whole, dress nice, make nice food, have a bottle of wine. The rest of the week we just have dinner together and talk. Possibly with a glass of wine. Or whatever adult beverage is thematically appropriate. Totally different. So yeah… we have a lot of time to talk about the book. We do talk about plenty of other things too, I promise.  ?  

Also, Astrophysics + Cthulhu. Try it some time. It won’t melt your brain. Honest.    


Next Time: Superman, sort of.