A phone rings, cutting into the quiet air. A woman looks up from reading, closing the worn, yellow-paged book with care before looking at the name on the screen. She smiles and holds the phone to her ear.
“Hello, Thiago! How are you?”
“I’m doing well, too. I’ve just been reading more about the bunyip and yowie, and checking our route, before we get out into the bush on Wednesday. You can never be too prepared!”
“Yeah, I’m just waiting for the taxi now. It’s such a long flight! Aren’t you flying out today too? São Paulo is almost as far away from Sydney as D.C is.”
“Ah! When are you landing? I’m landing at 6 a.m. Maybe we’ll land at the same time and make life easier on Narelle!
“Where do you want to meet up, then? It might be easier to meet inside the airport and then meet Narelle at her car at Arrivals.”
“That works for me! That little coffee place it is! I’m definitely going to need it after the flight! Wait, is that the airport loudspeaker?”
“Uh oh! Run! Don’t miss the plane! Have a safe flight!”
The woman, Maria, according to Thiago, stops the call and looks at the time. She reaches over and grabs a backpack, a large backpacking one already stuffed to the max, and puts the book inside. She then rolls up a heavily-marked map, which had been covering most of the desk, and places that inside as well. She takes a look around the room, looking at the various poster boards filled in with newspaper clippings, maps, drawings, pictures, and handwritten letters, about creatures ranging from the chupacabra to the strigoi and the hellhound to the skin-walker, and to the bookcases lining two walls, filled with old books and more maps. She looks down at her desk. Despite removing the book and the map, it is still crowded with books, maps, and papers. One book, Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May Or May Not Exist, worn and well-used, sits prominently in the mess. She smiles at the picture she has in the picture frame on her desk, of her with guy and a girl, all smiles, standing the middle of a jungle, wearing cargo pants and heavy backpacks. Satisfied that she has not forgotten anything, Maria carries the backpack out of the room and down the hallway into the living room, placing it with a worn suitcase. The hallway and living room are decorated with folklore on the walls and bookcases, from Madhubani paintings of Nepal and India to Irish manuscripts, as well as more pictures, some of the cryptids in her office, as well as some of her with family and friends. She checks her phone again and looks out the window, seeing a yellow taxi. Putting the backpack over her shoulders and extending the suitcase handle, she rolls the suitcase outside her apartment door. She stops and takes one more look at her apartment, knowing that she won’t be back in a while, and in the dangerous field of cryptozoology, she might not be back at all. Undaunted and with growing excitement, she closes and locks her door, ready for the new adventure.
——————————————————————————————————————————————My character, Maria Segreti, is a cryptozoologist and folklorist. She loves to travel around the world, trying to find creatures that aren’t considered to be real by most scientific organizations. She isn’t a monster hunter, and actually loathes that name. She doesn’t want to kill the cryptids, seeing them as animals just as any other, but merely wishes to prove their existence and study them. Though she actually majored in both English, with a concentration in Folklore, and zoology in college, the job that pays her bills is her English degree, working as a writer for travel magazines, as well as being a part-time professor and lecturer.
Her favorite cryptids are the chupacabra of Latin America (originally from Puerto Rico) and the hellhound, which has stories from all corners of the earth. While not truly cryptids, as they are more changed human than a separate species, the strigoi of Romanian mythology and the skin-walker of Navajo legends also fascinate her, even if from more of a folklorist perspective than a scientific one.
I made this character a cryptozoologist and folklorist based on the title and introduction of my blog. I figured she could be a good representative of it. I have loved cryptids for many years, and I actually used to own and love the book mentioned in the story. As I hope is evidenced by the description of the book in the narrative, it was abig inspiration to Maria and helped to jumpstart her love and career in cryptozoology. The 4 creatures mentioned are the creatures that scared me the most when I was younger and watched the T.V. show Lost Tapes, so I thought it would be a little Easter egg of my own life. The bunyip and yowie are Australian cryptids that I knew about at one point and then forgot about, and found again here.
Her first name, Maria, is the Italian version of Mary. I chose this name as an homage to Mary Washington. I chose the Italian version as her last name is Italian. Her name, Segreti, is a variant of Segreto, which stems from a “nickname from Old Italian segreto ‘confidant’ (from Latin secretum literally ‘hidden place’, hence ‘personal business’, ‘secret’). occupational name from medieval Greek ek sekreton, literally ‘from the hidden place’, i.e. ‘financial administrator’, likewise a derivative of Latin secretum” (Ancestry.com). I thought this was applicable for a cryptozoologist, as she is trying to learn the secrets of the cryptids in hidden places. I wasn’t sure what ethnicity I was going to make her, but her last name is the only one I found that suited what I was trying to look for, so I went this that.
The names of her friends don’t have any special meaning, as I had found it extremely difficult to even find a name for my main character. However, I did still want to be careful with what names I chose. I didn’t want them to be names of people I know, as that could complicate things when writing the character, and I wanted to make sure the name is representative of where the character is from. Maria knows people from all over the world, so I want to represent that in the characters I make and the names I give them.
Thiago is from Brazil. His name, in this spelling, appears to be found mostly in Brazil, and I know no one of this name, so it gets used. I also found how to pronounce it, which is a great plus! He is also a cryptozoologist who also works as part of film crews for various travel and outdoor TV shows as his main money-maker.
Narelle is from Australia, hence why she is picking them up from the airport. I found her name here, and then searched it on Wikipedia, where it popped up people and shows that were vast majority Australian. Therefore, it seems to be fairly Australian, and fits the other criteria I listed above. She is also a cryptozoologist, though her degree and main job is being a zoologist and studying the native animal species of Australia.
Featured image is from here: