Tag Archives: culture

Darrendrakar Genetics

A fan asked me how Darrendrakar genetics work. Well, it’s more complicated than *I* can understand completely, but let me at least tell you a few things.

If you’ve read my young adult Unexpected Heroes fantasy series, set on the world of Kaiatan, you’ll know that the shapeshifters in the country of Darrendra have one alternate form that is as natural to them as their two-legger form. (You can’t call them human. “Human” is a Terran species, and “humans” can’t change shape, sorry. Darrendrakar do go by “man, woman, or person,” though.)

In book one, Wind of Choice, the shapeshifter we get to know the most is Ludik. His alternate form is a black jaguar. (Trivia: any of the big cats, when black, can be called panthers.) He comes from the kindred (tribe) of cats, called Felid. Furthermore, he comes from the sub-group of “big” cats, which includes lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and the makarodonts that include such lovely specimens as sabre-tooth tigers (although the Darrendrakar call them something else).

In Darrendra, any of the big cats are cross-fertile, as is evident from Ludik’s mother being a tiger and his father being a lion. This is different from Terra (our Earth), where you almost never get that sort of thing, except for mules. (But sometimes…  http://ligerworld.com/shasta-the-first-ever-liger-in-America.html ) On the rare occasion you get a cross on Earth, the child is not fertile. In Darrendra, they are. In fact, you can get all sorts of results, depending on what genes run in the family. The Darrendrakar don’t have “mixed” children, like ligers. The genes will fall out on one side or the other, or select from other ancestral genes. Ludik has two brothers that are lions, a brother and sister that are tigers (one orange, one golden), and a sister that is a jaguar (but spotted instead of black).

Oddly, Ludik’s identical-as-two-legger brother is a lion (not a jaguar) when he changes shape. Why they look so similar as people and so different as cats is one of the mysteries of Darrendran biology that I can’t explain. And if you ask a Darrendrakar, he’ll just shrug and ask why not.

What you DON’T get in Darrendra is the big cats crossing with the small cats (not housecats, but cheetahs, mountain lions, ocelots, etc). Well, they could mate, but they either wouldn’t have children (most likely), or their children would be sterile. (Within the small cats, they are cross-fertile between types, just as the big cats are within their own group.)

The same difficulty works across Darrendrakar kindreds. Sure, a Felid and a Canid could marry, but they wouldn’t have children. Add in the typical uneasy peace between kindreds, and an interkindred marriage would be pretty difficult. Even without being “forbidden,” that kind of reality tends to discourage most interkindred romances.

This is also why you hardly ever see marriages between the four different peoples on Kaiatan. The winged Iojif, the shapechanging Darrendrakar, the gilled Nokai, and the solar-powered Iskri almost always marry someone from their own kind. And you never, never see an avian with gills or a solar-powered shapeshifter. The genes do not mix that way.

So, what did I leave out that you want to know? Leave a question in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it!

Language of Flowers

My YA fantasy series has a culture that communicates with their goddess and each other by using flowers and their cultural meanings. I’ve been asked if I invented that idea. Well, the goddess part, yes, but the flower part, no. Here are some articles you can read about the well-established practice of sending messages with flowers, including a list of meanings.






You might notice a few discrepancies between the websites, or between the sites and my books. In that case, please consider my books to use the Darendrakar version of the flower language, translated to the best of my ability.

Agrimony (go look it up),
M.C. Lee


I write about different fictional cultures, and I like that. I do use some ideas from real (Terran) life, as well as some ideas that I make up (or don’t realize come from real life). And I do research lots and lots of things. I find it fun, most of the time.

One of my story characters, Nia, comes from a culture with pretty loose family rules and infrequent marriage. She led me down a path of kinship research that was highly entertaining, except when I couldn’t find the right term for a kinship relationship. (After trying several exotic terms, I finally settled on the simpler “near-sibling” and “far-sibling” terms for some of her brothers and sisters.)

If you like dabbling in anthropology, here are some fun kinship articles for you.

An explanation of kinship terminology, and a glimpse at several different systems (how families are set up and who is considered related): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinship_terminology

Kinship terms (what relatives are called) in different languages. Click on each language to explore: http://www.omniglot.com/language/kinship/index.htm

The particular character I was telling you about has a highly complicated family due to her culture, so I had to draw a genogram to keep track of her family. It isn’t a standard genogram, because I didn’t bother with dotted lines, and I had to break some rules in order to get everything down. (If you can do better, let me know how, & I’ll adjust.) It does, however, allow me to know who’s who and how they’re related, as well as random facts I threw in for my own writing convenience.

But before you look at her family tree, here’s an explanation of genograms in general: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genogram

And a look at the rules used to create them: https://www.genopro.com/genogram/rules/

And now you can scroll back up to my current best attempt at Nia’s scrambled family tree. 🙂