This month's guest blog is by author Warren Rochelle. Warren is a Professor of English at the University of Mary Washington and the author of several novels which have been published by Golden Gryphon Press, including The Called (cover below) and a number of published short stories. He shares my fascination with werewolves (yay!) and has stopped by to blog about his current work in progress. Follow the link to Warren's website to see what else he's up to and where he can be found and check out his posts on the Great Traveling Roundtable Fantasy Blog Tour which he does with authors Deborah J. Ross, Carole McDonnell, Sylvia Kelso, Theresa Crater and others.
First, thank you to Catherine Lundoff for this opportunity to talk about my novel-in-progress, The Werewolf and His Boy, and to share some of my thoughts on werewolves and why I am writing about them.
Werewolves and Godlings
The Werewolf and His Boy (yes, the title is a homage to C.S. Lewis’s 5th Narnian novel, The Horse and His Boy) grew out of a short story, “Lowe’s Wolf” (published in Icarus 4, Spring 2010). That story was inspired by a dream my partner had, of a monster hiding at Lowe’s, a store he has frequented for various home improvement projects. This monster became Henry Thorn, a 19-year-old who initially doesn’t know he is a werewolf—just that he is having some very odd dreams. He finds himself falling in love with another boy at the same Lowe’s (in Short Pump, just outside Richmond, Virginia), Jamey Currey. Jamey has his own problems. His dad caught him kissing a boy and threw him out of the house and cut off his financial support, forcing him to drop out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Jamey is also having odd dreams: of flying, of walking through walls, of seeing supernatural beings. Henry learns he is a werewolf; Jamey learns he is a godling, a descendant of the old ones, who once walked the Earth as gods—Loki, Vulcan, Apollo, Hera, and the rest. These powerful beings made the werewolves and other Pets, such as selkies, centaurs, and mers, and various monsters. Their hybrid descendants, the godlings, have powers. These old ones also made the Watchers, devil-like monsters who were given one task: protect the Pets and the monsters at all costs. Keep them secret; keep magic a secret. Witches, who have always been a variation of humans, have, as a result, lived lives in hiding and secrecy, helping out Pets who get in trouble.
When Jamey and Henry fall in love their powers wake up. This gets the attention of the Watchers. The two boys are in serious trouble, even with the well-meaning help of local witches. The Watchers want them dead, as a warning to any other Pet or godling who dares risk disclosure. To stop them, Jamey and Henry must find an ancient key and solve a riddle Loki left behind—which could set the Pets free and end centuries of secrecy. To make things more complicated, they also have to learn how to love each other. So their quests begin. Complications ensue.
Why werewolves? I find shapeshifters—werewolves in particular---fascinating. They are creatures who live in liminal space, between human and animal, neither one nor the other, and yet both. As someone who often feels he lives in the in-between areas, I find this territory to be creative and powerful, a generative place, sometimes chaotic, but always rich in meaning, in myth, in metaphor. This is territory where many gay people find themselves. Wolves, are capable of violence, and yet, can be gentle and kind. They are, in many ways, metaphors for being human.
Fantasies often are set in a secondary reality, some of the most famous including Oz, Prydain, Narnia and Middle-earth. I set The Werewolf and His Boy in Richmond because it is a place I know, where the magical and the mundane can and do intersect, a human place. I find such intersections rich in story and I believe we all live in such intersections whether we know it or not.
The Werewolf and His Boy is a love story and it is a story about family—the ones we are born into, and the ones we make ourselves. It is a story about being gay in a homophobic world and in a world where being gay is like having red hair or blue eyes. It is about being living between worlds, and being between worlds. It is a story about identity and self and how we must find and love ourselves and thus be able to love another. Ultimately, for my reluctant heroes, Jamey and Henry, it is a story about what it means to be human.