Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Question of WHY WEREWOLVES ROCK: Part 2

In part one I mentioned I never really imagined myself as a writer of werewolves (and Kelley Armstrong even had a great interview I read once that mentioned the danger of being pigeonholed as an author). And although my debut trilogy is definitely chock-full-of "werewolfy goodness" and "supernatural funk" I like to think it's still even more a human story.

Think back to 13 TO LIFE's tagline: Teenage love, loss and--oh, yeah--werewolves. My werewolves are hugely important, it's true, but the story (I hope) is seen as even more than just a "werewolf story."

Today let's think of another angle of what makes werewolves so amazing--our deeply ingrained fear of one half of that heady werewolf cocktail:


Think about it: werewolves go from human (and supposedly humane) to the creature that haunts our fairy tales, myths and legends.

Little Red Riding Hood's nemesis? The Big, Bad Wolf.

The wolf in sheep's clothing.

Peter and the Wolf (*nods* do you get it--Pietr and the Wolf? just checking ;-).

When we talk about primitive people and our basest fears what do we mention lurking just outside the safety of the campfire's glow? Wolves. Dangerous, slavering beasts with a hunger for our flesh. Freudians go nuts over this sort of cultural symbolism. Is Little Red Riding Hood a thinly disguised story of a girl's coming of age (the red hood, the grandmother, wild woods, the lurking predator and powerful woodsman--you know the drill--and if you don't, ask your psych teacher ;-)?

And wolves--the dangerous side of werewolves, that supposedly most beastly component--still manage to scare the bejeebus out of many of us.

The fear of wolves is deeply ingrained in our psyche. We like to think we're the top of the foodchain. But when faced with things like wolves (who rarely bother with humans if we can be avoided) or sharks, we humans recognize that for all our technology we may not be the biggest, best and brightest in every environment.

It's a disconcerting thought (even though, in reality, they don't want a thing to do with us).

Now force two things (wolves and humans) that have tried so hard for centuries to keep a safe distance into a single body. Wow. Talk about keeping close quarters with your fears.

The ensuing battle that rages between the beast within and the supposedly humane human makes for great inner turmoil. You want soul-stirring conflict? Have your hero struggle against something inside—a somewhat invasive force—that is trying to take him over and encourage the wildness our "civilized" nature has tried to erase.

Now our hero has to deal with an animal nature his very evolution as a homo sapien has tried to distance him from. Maybe he's average most of the time--just a regular guy. But let those wilder instincts gain a hold and suddenly he's more keyed in to his senses (things we often ignore in our day to day lives even though we can experience a wide array of sensation without being wolfy). As readers we can experience things that our dulled senses can't as easily enjoy (or be stunned by). Werewolves tweak our primitive sensory curiosity.

Now mix in a love interest. Suddenly we kick up curiosity, fierce loyalty, perhaps a bit of possessiveness--things that when overdone are scary, stalkerish and controlling. But done the right way... Heroic and alpha.

It's a thin line we walk between our fear and our passion.

Werewolves scamper all around that line and tease out our fears and mix them with wonder. Just one more reason werewolves rock. ;-)


Mundie Moms said...

We love your posts about the Werewolfs and we're looking forward to reading your book!!

Shannon said...

Thank you, Mundie Moms. I appreciate your interest and can't wait to see the book available for all. :-)