Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beyond Cristy Burne

or why I love science, history and blood-sucking monsters. 

What if I told you that late at night, after you’re tucked up in bed, a frog-like mutant sneaks into your bathroom and licks it till it’s clean?

What if I told you that your umbrella will one day sprout hair on its handle and an eye on its head, and hop up and down your hallway blowing raspberries?

What if I warned you that a tiny snail can grow large enough to crush you to death, or that mermaids harbour vampiric tendencies or that eating fruit is horribly dangerous for your health?

I didn’t invent any of these monsters. They’re all creatures from Japanese mythology. Just as European myths have dragons and fairies and werewolves and vampires, Japanese myths have… well, Japanese myths have some of the craziest, most creative, most dangerous, most hilarious monsters I’ve ever come across.

Writing Takeshita Demons

Takeshita Demons, Cristy's first book

So this is how it happened: I was stuck for ideas. I knew I wanted to write a story about some ordinary kids, going to an ordinary school, stuck in an extraordinary world. But I needed inspiration. I needed something crazy. Something creative. Something dangerous. Something hilarious.

BINGO! I needed Japanese monsters.

Science, history and culture = great ideas

Sometimes, every writer needs help to find a truly awesome story idea. And when I hit those times, I turn to science, history and culture. This sort of research helps to expand your brain, build your knowledge, and blow your mind.

Anyone who’s ever read Horrible Histories will know: the truth is a billion times grosser than fiction. Anyone who’s ever checked out the ABC Science News will know: the truth is a billion times more incredible than fiction. And anyone who’s ever studied Japanese mythology will know: a billion insanely awesome creatures might possibly exist, just beyond the corner of your eye.

You’re strange.
Why are you trying to scare me?
No, no, I’m not trying to scare you. (Okay, maybe a little).

What I’m really trying to do is this: I’m trying to encourage you to READ! Read fiction, but also read science, read history, read about other people’s cultures, read about your own culture.

Great non-fiction is fuel for your imagination

You know how they say you should write what you know? Well, the more you know, the better you can write.

(Did you know that Japan doesn’t have a headless horseman, but it does have a headless horse. Like I said: fuel for the imagination!)

About the Author

Cristy Burne is a children’s author, science writer, editor and presenter. She has performed for the Shell Questacon Science Circus, edited CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine, and reported on the atom-smashing Large Hadron Collider from CERN in Switzerland. She loves dark chocolate, mountain biking and scaring people. Most recently she’s been working on a tyrannosaurs exhibition for the Australian Museum.

Cristy’s favourite books include anything by Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy and Justin D’Ath. All-time faves include Take The Long Path by Joan De Hamel, The Librarian and the Robber by Margaret Mahy, and Under The Mountain by Maurice Gee. According to Cristy, the best YA book of all-time is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (if you haven’t read it, read it now!).

Cristy’s own books are fast, funny and spooky.  The Takeshita Demons series includes Takeshita Demons, The Filth Licker, Monster Matsuri and MerMonster. You can read MerMonster free on Wattpad or download it here.
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  1. I watch Death Note which is an anime about a supernatural book that allows you to kill anyone whose name is written in the book (appropriate to ages 13 and up). It revolves around Japanese superstition that naming people is very important and also brings in the gods of death, the Shinigami.

  2. I am 12 years old and write anime fan fiction at

  3. Thanks for your post, Cristy. I agree - Japanese monsters, science and history are a killer combination!

    Now to find a frog-like mutant - or any kind of monster - who'd clean my bathroom overnight...