One of the things that helped me write this story was by putting a voice to it. That let me play it back in my head and actually hear the character speaking. It was easy for the canon characters, but it meant having to assign a voice to each original character, too.

I looked for actors and actresses whose accent, tone, intonation, and cadence that best reflected the character I was trying to create. Some of them are still the first voice I picked for them. For example, I always heard Mike Gatherpole's voice as Steve Buscemi. Anton McMeadow, on the other hand, started out stuffy and British but changed to something much rougher as the character evolved.

Here's my voice cast, just as I imagined them. If you're not familiar with them, feel free to roll on over to YouTube to have a listen. Then, if you're so inclined, try going back and re-reading some of the story with that new voice in mind. Does it change the character for you?

CAST (In order of appearance)

Eddie Grayson | Charlie Cox

Otto Hopps | Ed Asner

Nicholas Wilde | Jason Bateman (Original Cast)

Anton McMeadow | Jonathan Banks

Judy Hopps | Ginnifer Goodwin (Original Cast)

Mikaere Ngata | Jemaine Clement

Michael Gatherpole | Steve Buscemi

Gideon Grey | Phil Johnson (Original Cast)

Bonnie Hopps | Bonnie Hunt (Original Cast)

Patricia Delacour | Allison Janney

Victor "Sawtooth" Odynski | Sam Elliot

Lucy McCloud | Chloe Bennet

Pierre Chauve-Souris | René Auberjonois

Sheriff Myles Tobin | Tommy Lee Jones

Officer "Duck" Bill Darcy | Callum Keith Rennie

DA Barnaby Westfield | Gerald McRaney

Frank Scalpellino | Bobby Cannavale

Special Agent Wilson Dell | Clark Gregg

Vito Padrone (Mr. Big) | Maurice LaMarche (Original Cast)



I love inserting little pop-culture references into my stories, just to see who catches them. In case you missed any, I've listed the significant ones here. I've also included some canon and fanon references than some readers might not be aware of – mainly because not everyone is a huge nerd like me.



Each chapter is named after an episode of Doctor Who.



"My oldest, Bonnie. She's a good girl, takes after her mother." – In the movie, you briefly see a Bunnyburrow newspaper article about Otto Hopps that references Bonnie as his daughter. Although the movie shows her as his youngest, I took a little poetic license.

"His fur was red because he was made by the devil." – In one of the movie's deleted scenes, Pop-Pop appears in the background and loudly expresses this same belief.



Happytown – In the original version of the movie script, Happytown was the name of a notorious predator-only ghetto.

Cape Caracal – A play on Cape Canaveral and a reference to one of my one-shot stories, Rocket Lamb

Redwall Mountains – A nod to the Redwall book series by Brian Jacques

"I swear I saw it in a movie somewhere." – He totally did; it's from G.I. Jane.



Anton McMeadow – I made up the name McMeadow, but Anton is the name of my neighbor when I was a kid. He was an engineer, too.

Jackalope Falls - The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore, described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns.

Warren County – A warren is an area containing multiple rabbit burrows

"I guess you could say that Homestead was supposed to be my retirement tour." – My small homage to the classic 'he was just 2 days from retirement' trope.



"When my mom and I walked into the Bunnyburrow recruiting office, it sure didn't look like the military." – LOL...army recruiting offices totally look like that.

Moon rabbit – A story from Japanese folklore, altered slightly for my purposes

"Look out for the big bad fox." – A tiny reference to Mead's "Judy Is Dead" fan comic.



"When my family came over in the late eighteen-hundreds." – Mongooses (not mongeese) were (unsuccessfully) introduced to New Zealand in the late 19th century in an attempt to reduce the snake population.

Lucy McCloud – A nod to the video game Starfox.

If you see something that looks like it might explode if you touch it, don't bloody touch it! – Advice given to me by a Royal Engineer when I was Afghanistan. Those guys know their business.



Control anklets / Stall collars – A possible precursor to the Shock Collar tech from the original script.

Harvey's Hope / Harvey StewartHarvey is a famous 1950 film starring James Stewart. The story is about a man whose best friend is a six-foot tall invisible rabbit named Harvey.

Chauve-Souris – Literally the French word for bat, but I thought it sounded good.

"About three million mammals." – For reference, the New York Times readership is 9.32 million.



Zoogle – Google, basically. Lol for animal puns!



Chris Cottontail – Reference to The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by author Thornton Burgess.

Capybara Cave – Reference to Krubera Cave in the country of Georgia, the deepest cave ever discovered and partial inspiration for Homestead.



"I've got thirty of my own, and a little over two-hundred-and-fifty nieces and nephews." – A reference to the Zootopia head-canon that Judy doesn't literally have ~300 siblings, and that the term brother or sister are loosely applied with a family to any child of a given generation.

Rabbit Punch - A quick, sharp strike to the back of the head.

"If you can't do something smart, do something right." - Reference to the TV show Firefly, quote attributed to Shepherd Derrial Book

Uncle Charlie – 'Charlie' or 'Charles' is a breed of rabbit, usually characterized by having a uniformly white fur.

"Big Damn Hero" – Reference to the TV show Firefly

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." – Excerpt for the epic poem Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Candice Hopps – A character from by anthology series, Forty Glimpses

Martin Abbey - Reference to a character in the Redwall book series by Brian Jacques



Myles Tobin – A character from the story Sheriff in my anthology series, Forty Glimpses

Nichols, Breivik, and Kaczynski – References to Terry Nichols (1995 Oklahoma City bombing), Anders Behring Breivik (2011 Oslo bombing), and Ted Kaczynski (The Unabomber)

Frank Scalpellino – Scalpellino is Italian for stonemason or stonecutter

One of the dumbest things I hear from temperate-climate mammals is that they don't wear a life jacket because they can swim – Not a reference, but still true. Wear a damn life jacket!

ANFO – Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil was the explosive used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 2011 Oslo bombing.

Alphonse – The given name of Al Capone

Padrone – Padrone is Italian for boss or master

"Multiple counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking." – Famed gangster John Joseph Gotti was convicted and sent to prison on these charges in 1992.



Heroes of Homestead Monument – Inscription is inspired by a limerick from the Doctor Who episode, The Beast Below, written by the brilliant Steven Moffet.

Pawlitzer prize – A play on the Pulitzer Prize, an award for outstanding achievement in newspaper, magazine and online journalism.

Ft. MuridaeMuridae is the latin name for the largest family of rodents, containing over 700 species.



When I was writing Cold Blood, I wanted to include a brief but funny bit with Chief Bogo. However, no matter how much I added, removed, or edited, it just felt like pointless fan-service. It just didn't add anything to the story. In the end, though, it still makes for an amusing snippet.


"What the hell are you doing in my office?"

Adrian Bogo – Cape Buffalo
Chief, Zootopia Police Department


Chief Adrian Bogo is, by all accounts, the very definition of intimidating. The decorated cape buffalo has been with the ZPD for nearly thirty years and has served as the Chief of Police for the last seven. I meet the him at his office in the Precinct One building.

What the...?!

Good morning, Chief Bogo.

Grayson? How the hell did you get in here?

I made an appointment.

You made an appointment.

Yup. [I point to the clock on the wall] For three o'clock.

Son of a... [He slams a hoof down on the intercom] CLAWHAUSER!

[Intercom] Yes, Chief?

Why the hell is Edward Grayson in my office?!

[Intercom] He...uh...he made an appointment?

Like I sai...

[To me] Shut it! I don't care about whatever it is you're here for. If you want a comment, contact the press office. [To the intercom] Clawhauser! No appointments with reporters!

[Intercom] Yes sir!

Should I see myself out?

I swear to the gods, Grayson; if you had been anyone else, you'd be on your way to the holding cells right now.

Understood, Chief. Always a pleasure.

Get out of here. I have actual work to do.



Who is Eddie Grayson?

That was an important question for me to answer, because in some ways Eddie shaped the story just as much as any other character.

In the earliest drafts, Eddie was a much more active character. The chapters read more like conversations than interviews, and I didn't think that was the right approach. I thought to myself; is this how a real reporter would act? Of course not. He's here for a story, so why is he the one doing all the talking? From then on, Eddie took on a significantly more passive role in the story. He asks the important questions, only occasionally stops for clarification, and does whatever he can to minimize his own presence.

As I kept writing the story, I developed a mental biography for Eddie. I wanted to know what kind of mammal The Herald would assign this piece to, and also who would have the kind of credibility that could convince The Herald's Editor to completely rework the story format at the last minute.

So, who is Eddie Grayson? Lemme tell you:

Edward Marcus Grayson (born January 21, 1982) is a Mammalian journalist and winner of the 2016 Pawitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Born in Zootopia, Grayson received a bachelor's degree from Zoo York University's Woolard School of Journalism in 2003. He began his career as a junior reporter with The Zoo York Times in 2004 and became a columnist there in 2008. Grayson returned home in 2010 as an investigative reporter for The Zootopia Herald, where he was a Pawitzer finalist in both 2012 and 2013, both in relation to his reporting on the exploitation of minority species in the Mammalian industrial sector.

In 2016, Grayson won the Pawitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his exposé: Sheep's Clothing - The Lies Behind the Bellwether Administration (August 20, 2016). The award particularly cited "his fearless and tenacious reporting on the bigotry and innate corruption of the Zootopian government, resulting in the discovery of a focused conspiracy aimed toward subjugating traditionally predatory species."

Grayson reported that, following the resignation and arrest of former Mayor Leodore Lionheart, Interim Mayor Dawn Bellwether conducted a deliberate and systematic purge of all predators working in all levels of public service. Her office either encouraged or coerced several major media outlets into emphasizing the 'predator threat' while simultaneously working to suppress any reporting contrary to that narrative.

He wrote, "Records and interviews show how the Bellwether administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the media into a kind of Trojan horse—an instrument purported to be a source of impartial information but utilized to spread fear and mistrust from inside the major TV and radio networks."

Shortly after the exposé was published, Grayson was the victim of a violent mugging while jogging in the park. He was recovering in hospital when Wilhelm Ramsden, then Zootopian District Attorney, had Grayson placed under arrest. Ramsden cited evidence that the mugging had actually been a failed attempt to purchase illicit drugs, though these charges were categorically disproven after Ramsden himself was revealed to be complicit in the Bellwether conspiracy.

Grayson still works at The Herald. He is married to award-winning photojournalist Kara Joseph-Grayson. The pair live on Outback Island in Zootopia.


I briefly considered writing a 1-2 chapter story about Eddie's journalistic TKO of Bellwether, but ultimately decided against it. Notwithstanding the fact that OC-centric stories are a crap-shoot in this fandom, it would also mean revealing his species. That's something I very specifically avoided doing because, when all is said and done, I don't believe is actually matters.



Dawn Bellwether was, by far, the most predicted villain in Burrow. This isn't surprising; she's probably the most-used villain in the entire fandom. And even though I read these speculations with a smile, ready for the big reveal, I was also uncertain about how it would play with the readers.

Bellwether was a schemer; her plans hinged on deception and misdirection. She and Doug created a situation where people thought they understood what the threat was: predators succumbing to their own biology. Prey mammals accepted that premise, because it makes a weird kind of sense to them and backs up what some of them may have been thinking. It plays because it gives them permission to think the things they've always felt guilty about thinking.

However, it's tough to blame structural demolition charges on 'biology'. Although it wouldn't be impossible to turn Homestead into a propaganda weapon, for the amount of effort involved – and considering that the Tri-Burrows are over 200 miles away - it didn't seem plausible to me that Bellwether would do that.

So, why Mr. Big? In short, because he's a ruthless criminal. A lot of people forget that if Fru Fru had walked in only a few seconds later, Nick and Judy would have been dead; Big had literally ordered their deaths a heartbeat earlier. What's more, while he might have planned to kill Nick over what amounted to a personal insult, he was going to kill Judy over...what? Taking a tone with him? Accusing him of a crime that a first-year law student could get thrown out of court?

He didn't change his mind until he learned that Judy had saved his daughter. That tells me that family matters to him a lot more than the lives of mammal he doesn't know – let alone mammals he's never met. It means so much to him that Judy saved Fru Fru, it actually exonerates Nick by association. Now, what if he suddenly didn't have any family left? What might a mammal like that – one who has power, money, brains, and a ruthless streak a mile wide – do when that single moral touchstone has been taken from him?

I think he'd grasp for the first stable thing he could. I think he'd dive head first into the only other aspect of his live that made him feel like he was in control.