Just a recap here for those who maybe don’t know: While I was climbing up the SF-writing ladder, in fact, if I recollect correctly, when I was working on The Parasite for Tanjen Books, I ended up chatting to the mother of a friend. Now, both the mother and father of said friend were smart cookies – both were vets. She gave me some advice on punctuation that has stayed with me ever since, but she also loaned me a veterinary book on helminthology, which is the study of parasitic worms.
I was at once fascinated. Firstly the book reminded me of books my mother had studied during teacher training and which I pored over as a child, what with their anatomical pictures or internal organs, musculature, skeletons etc.
(Oh, on a side note that was very much a formative period of my life: as her main subject in teacher training she studied mycology (fungi) which, for a kid, was great. Not only did we go to woodlands hunting for these weird and wonderful things but we could also eat them, which appealed to the hunter-gatherer in me. Now I can identify quite a lot of British fungi and of course this interest led to mycelia … which led to Jain tech)
Secondly, I found the intricate life cycles of these creatures fascinating, just as I was boggled by the way they could manipulate or physically change their hosts. Some of this went into The Parasite, an awful lot of it went into short stories: The Thrake, Cave Fish, Choudapt, Putrefactors, Spatterjay, Snairls and Shell Game to name but a few. Then, of course, when it came time for me to write a book after Gridlinked I picked up two of those short stories – Snairls and Spatterjay – and used them as the launch pad for The Skinner and the two ensuing books.
So what am I waffling on about? Well, the above is why I was so glad Vaude passed on the link to Parasite of the Day (thanks Vaude). This is just my kind of stuff. I am almost certainly going to read every article on that site. Also thanks to Dr Tommy Leung who has just changed the black background of that site to make it easier to read!
Oh, and some character in my books has definitely got to be hit by a weaponized version of the above. I can see him/her dying horribly while sprouting mushrooms.