Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Roach by Any Other Name Would Just Be Wrong

The Things a Girl has to Do!

I am not into bugs. I shun Reptile Houses at Zoos. I only nod politely to very small spiders, and I will not live in a roach-infested dwelling.

But this little guy is no ordinary roach. In fact, he's a Macropanesthia Rhinoceros, and he lives under the ground much of the time in Australia.
He would never dream of entering a kitchen, and he has no odour -- in fact, he's very un-roach-like. This beastie is known as a Giant Burrowing roach, and he's a huge guy.
Maybe three inches long, no wings, just an insect (not a bug) who shares his love for mulberry trees with the koala bear.

As cute or as ugly as this fellow is -- with his "scoop" for burrowing -- he has ended up in the first chapter of my book.

This was not my decision. This is what happens when you allow your imagination to run wild, which mine obviously has, and as a result, he has created a teeny role for himself as an emcee, if you like. The very idea that roach art would appeal to my main character, Isobel, who collects oddities amongst other things for her rare emporium on Third Avenue in Manhattan, serves as a further entrée (no pun intended) into her character. She, too, is imaginative and completely offbeat.

And so, for a few key sentences, Mr. Rhino Roach moves front and centre as the star in an artist's collection of 'roach art.'

In order to do this roach art justice -- I have been forced to attack with a humorous bend and it's a tricky business.
I don't want to merely describe the artwork -- flat, telling etc. Even if the artwork itself is hilarious.
I need to show it, and I need to not be showy in showing it.

Subtle will do the trick, I think. You see, the roach art is presented like individual paintings, like Peeps dioramas. 

I have been playing with this for quite some time, and can't let it go until I hit the right tone.

Comedy is hard work.

And then there is pacing. Even if I had a hundred dancing rhino roaches getting down with Jennifer Lopez, I'd be off the mark. Good writing has to move along briskly, even when it quiets down. Melodic-like. Because, otherwise, the reader says, 'well, this is all very well and good, but, isn't it a tad self-indulgent?" 

I'm not a big fan of self-indulgent writers. I pop right out of their stories.

I think I shall ponder this tomorrow at the dentist's office, and then ready my wits for a long, rainy holiday weekend.

Bela Lugosi - Count Dracula
In the meantime, Isobel is considering which of the many roach dioramas she wants to house in her permanent exhibit. She has decided to keep -- "Bela Bugosi." Now he's a much scarier character than a rhino roach. Heh.


  1. Hmm, as long as you swear that he doesn't invade kitchens (and no odour? do regular cockroaches smell?) then I can find him humourous too [g] Especially the way you write it!

  2. If you write it, I will laugh. Really, Carol. Your taste in the comedic will work great with Mr. Rhino Roach. ; )

  3. Hi Deniz,

    Yep, regular cockroaches emit an odour. And they procreate like mad, whereas the rhino roach doesn't. Apparently, the rhino roach is also known as the "litter bug."
    Hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend!

  4. Dear Zan Marie,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. Hee.(s)