Inspiration: “The Octopus Garden”

Two weeks ago, Suction Cup Dreams: An Octopus Anthology was published by press.  The anthology contains my story “The Octopus Garden.”  I originally wrote this story in 1991 after watching a documentary on Vanuatu.  The documentary had a sequence in which a boy catches his first octopus, and as a rite of passage, must kill it by biting it between the eyes.  That sequence stuck with me for a long.  About the same time, I moved to Hawai‘i and learned about the traditional Hawaiian octopus lure, which is made from sharpened wood or a pig’s tusk, a stone and a cowry shell.  It’s an odd, but beautiful item.

The octopus is an important animal in many Pacific Island cultures and mythologies (e.g., most cultures in the Pacific have a deity that can assume the form of an octopus).  It’s an incredible, enigmatic, and highly intelligent creature.  And all of this inspired “The Octopus Garden.”  In that original 1991 version, I had the basic story I wanted, but I had all the details wrong.  Over the intervening 20 years, I changed the point of view (from third person to first person and back to third), the main character (from a white man to a Pacific Islander), the supporting characters (added some removed others) and the central conflict.  I changed everything except for the basic story idea and scene with the octopus hunt.

“The Octopus Garden” took me twenty years to get right, and I’m proud of this story for many reasons.  If you’re looking for an interesting collection of stories inspired by one of the world’s more fascinating creatures, add Suction Cup Dreams to your wish list, or better yet by a copy today.

About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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