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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.

http://www.goldengryphon.com/called-large.jpg


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.

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Wrote 600 words on Blood Moon yesterday, which isn't bad for a vacation day with museuming, family and all. This morning, I heard about a call for GLBT werewolf tales (romance) from
Musa Publishing and am contemplating writing a novella, possibly a prequel. I'm toying with the idea of a historical (in the sense of earlier than contemporary) werewolf novella set in Wolf's Point, but with a different cast of characters than the current book/novel in progress. Characters from Silver Moon and Blood Moon may be walk-ons. Writer brain is noodling.
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http://lyricalpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/wolfatthedoor333x500.jpgObsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye by J. Damask

I "met" Joyce, who writes YA as J. Damask, on Twitter through a mutual friend and was immediately intrigued by the premise of her books. I'm thrilled that she agreed to do a guest post for me on Chinese werewolves and her books. Signal boosts and link backs encouraged!
Her
website
Her
blog
Where to buy her books:
Amazon.com 
Barnes &Noble
Lyrical Press
Gumroad

"Chinese Werewolves in the writings of Joyce Chng/J.Damask"

When Catherine Lundoff asked me to write about the Chinese werewolves in my urban fantasy series set in Singapore, I actually rummaged through my head for things to write. Many people are curious about the Lang and desire to know more about them. I often reply that they were Chinese wolves, not the typical werewolves-doomed-to-change-during-full-moon, but wolves in human bodies. Some readers have said that they are more like spirit wolves. These wolves walk side by side their human counterparts, by all means Singaporean Chinese and indistinguishable. But like wolves, leery of strangers, of the crowd and of cramped spaces.  So, as I rummaged through my head, what should I write about the Chinese werewolves?

And, why Singapore? Because I was born and grew up on this island-state. I wanted to see an urban fantasy set in a familiar place. Of course, I have read about New York, London and other non-Asian places, and my heart hankers to read about a place I know. So, in 2009, I wrote the story out of a challenge to myself: write an urban fantasy novel/series set in Singapore. In actual fact, the story (and its background) had been simmering nicely in the back of my brain before I sat down to write. Nanowrimo gave me the impetus. I had also just given birth to my little girl. People thought I was nuts, writing a novel when I should be 1) resting and 2) focusing on baby girl.

I wanted to see a story about wolves who were also migrants in a foreign land. Wolves whose ancestors settled down in Nanyang (a term for Malaya for the migrant Chinese in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) and sank roots down, carving their own niches for their packs/families. My grandparents were such migrants. The wolves too found a new home on a tropical island close to the equator. Like their human Chinese counterparts, they too have a rich culture and traditions.

Now, the wolves. I have always loved wolves and even my self-persona is a wolf. When I set out to write the novel(s), I wanted to see proper wolves, not the half-wolf, half-man raging monster made popular by Hollywood. The Lang have their own term for this monstrous state: ren lang (literally: man-wolf). For them, achieving this form twists the mind and renders the individual insane, a total antithesis to what a wolf is. The Lang, like their wild wolf cousins, desire to hunt, love their pack members and will do anything to protect pack territory. They love their freedom and green spaces so that they can run and hunt. They are also human in that they mingle with other Singaporean Chinese and work in human environments.

I like to examine the concept of duality, the idea of straddling two worlds. The main character/heroine, Jan Xu, is mother and pack leader, daughter and sister, wife and free soul. She leads the pack, and yet she is also a wife to a human man who loves her. She loves her children, and yet she has to be a purposeful and strong alpha to her pack. And she has to straddle between wolf and human – something that she struggles daily with in modern urban Singapore. A wolf would rather run and hide from the crowds and traffic.

There you go – my Chinese wolves distilled into a few paragraphs. I have high hopes for the Lang and the other non-human groups (the Myriad). Perhaps you might just see another series in the future.

 


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When I heard that there was going to be a conference on female werewolves at the University of Manchester in the UK in 2010, I was terribly disappointed that I was going to miss it. Fortunately, one of the conference organizers, Hannah Kate, continued the discussion about female werewolves at her blog. And in June, 2012, she released an anthology: Wolf Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny from Hic Dragones Press; I asked her to stop by and talk about her inspiration and her answers to the question: "Why female werewolves?"


Why I Love Lycogyny

Hannah Kate

A few years ago, I was working on my PhD thesis on late medieval romance narratives. I was writing about gender and monsters in fourteenth-century romance, and was particularly looking at some stories involving werewolves. I wrote about masculinity, noting that werewolves in medieval romance are exclusively male. I added a neat little footnote to the effect of: ‘On the whole, throughout Western culture, werewolves are usually male.’ Then, as an afterthought, I added: ‘Notable exceptions include the female protagonists of the Ginger Snaps trilogy and the character of Verruca in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. A couple of days later, I added a few more (I think Clemence Housman’s werewolf and Perrenette Gandillon were next), and then a few more (An American Werewolf in Paris, Trick R Treat, the witchcraft trials presided over by Henry Boguet). Gradually, I added more and more ‘notable exceptions’ until the footnote took over the entire page.

With this, my supervisor said: ‘You are going to have to do something with that female werewolf footnote.’

So, I opened up the subject to discussion with other academics, and ran a conference in Manchester. We had speakers from throughout Europe, the States and Australia, and talked about female werewolves from history, folklore, literature and film. I then put together an academic book on the subject, to be published by Manchester University Press in 2013.

But that wasn’t the end of it. As well as being an academic writer, I am also a creative writer. While it was interesting to examine the female werewolf under the scholarly microscope, I also wanted to look more creatively at this compelling figure.


The earliest she-werewolves are found in witchcraft trials and tracts. But since the nineteenth century (or late eighteenth, if you think Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Cristobel’ is a werewolf tale – as some people do), female werewolves have belonged to creative writers, and, to be bold, I wanted to be part of this tradition.


Female werewolf fiction is going through something of a Golden Age at the moment, with some really excellent novels and short stories being produced. Mainstream TV shows like Being Human have also offered us some new – and complex – female werewolves. There is such a strong blending of traditions going on in these recent creations – Northern European folkloric elements rub shoulders with the sexual allure of the nineteenth-century she-wolves and the dark occultism of the sixteenth. North American literature and film often mixes non-European traditions of shapeshifting and shamanism into the European werewolf.


I have a few theories as to why the early twenty-first century might be such a fertile ground for female werewolf fiction. The current popularity of paranormal romance and crossover horror/fantasy fiction means many creatures once the preserve of fiction written primarily for and about men now appear in books for women. In these books, the female werewolf is more likely to appear as protagonist than sexy villain.


But, perhaps, there’s something more. It can hardly be denied that, in Western culture particularly, there is a worrying obsession with female body hair at the moment. I haven’t actually plotted a graph, but I’ve long been of the opinion that, as women are expected to remove hair from more and more parts of their body, there is an increased interest in writing about women who revel in their fur. Perhaps every time a woman gets a Brazilian, a female werewolf is born?

I decided to put together the Wolf-Girls collection to give an overview of the rich traditions that are at play in today’s lycanthropic fiction. A short story collection made more sense than a single-authored book, as I wanted to give a broader view of lycogyny, in all its complicated manifestations. When I opened submissions, I didn’t set any rules about what ‘female’ or ‘werewolf’ might mean – I simply asked for dark tales (and, as my own tastes run that way, I hinted the darker the better!)

The stories I received in response to my call for submissions did not disappoint. Rosie Garland, Andrew Quinton, Mihaela Nicolescu and Mary Borsellino offered gritty urban fantasy; Nu Yang and J.K. Coi’s contributions might be better described as horror. Serial killers, predators, brutality and gore run through all these stories.

Marie Cruz’s story drew on traditions of the ‘female Gothic’ and the association of werewolfism and mental illness; Beth Daley’s heart-breakingly tender (yet grotesque and shocking) tale draws on a now usually forgotten tradition of female werewolves and infanticide. Both Helen Cross and R.A. Martens dealt head-on with the question of body hair, but in quite different stories of hairy women. Jeanette Greaves and Sarah Peacock offered dark little visions of teenage life in the UK, inflected through science fantasy and Celtic folklore respectively; L. Lark’s story was influenced by Northern European folktales of shapeshifters.


Several stories belonged to genres not always associated with werewolf fiction: my own was cyberpunk-inspired; Lyn Lockwood’s was set in the Wild West; Kim Bannerman drew on medieval hagiography and Crusading narratives. And one story – Lynsey May’s – was told from a man’s POV, and focused on sexual desire and disgust.


These stories are worthy additions to a long history of female werewolf fiction. That’s not to say readers are likely to fall in love with the writers’ creations – these women are hardly eye candy – but I hope they will be gripped, frightened, repelled and delighted by them.

Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny is available now in paperback from the Hic Dragones website [www.hic-dragones.co.uk/wolf-girls], and in all eBook formats from September 2012.

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Or how I'm spending next Saturday, plus a resource list to refer back to.
GCLS is still open to at the door registrations.

The GCLS panel:

Saturday, June 16, 2012                                             

1:00pm - 2:15pm:

Shapeshifters and werecreatures and other moonlit beings.  A moderated discussion of lesbian fiction about shapeshifters, werewolves and other werebeings by writers and readers. What's the appeal? Who does it well? What would you like to read or write next?

Moderator:  Catherine Lundoff

Panelists:

      Carrie Devall  

     Megan Cooper  

      Jewelle Gomez


Here's some of what we're going to talk about:
Books and Stories:
Women Who Run with Werewolves, ed. by Pam Keesey - anthology of female werewolf stories
Bitten by Moonlight, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft - anthology of lesbian werewolf stories
Daughters of Artemis, edited by S.L. Armstrong - werewolf erotica
Tales of the Pack: Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon - lesbian werewolf novel
Everafter (3 book series) by Trinity Tam and Nell Stark - lesbian vampires and wereshifters
Goldenseal, Ambereye and Indigo Moon - Garoul series by Gil McKnight - werewolf romance
Barking at the Moon by Nene Adams - werewolves
Witch Wolf by Winter Penningon - witches and werewolves
Silver Kiss and Dark Hunt by Naomi Clark - werewolf mysteries
"Wolf Strap" by Naomi Clark and "Family Matters" in Queerwolf, edited by James Rasmussen. Queerdfiction.
Wild by Meghan O'Brien - werewolf erotica
Midnight Hunters (series) by L.L. Raand - werewolf erotic mysteries
Cage the Darlings by Elora Bishop - shapeshifter romance
Nadya by Pat Murphy - bi female werewolf in the historic American West
Santa Olivia and Saints Astray by Jacqueline Carey - genetically modified heroine who may or may not be a form of werewolf
Second Nature by Jae - shapeshifter romance/mystery
Sacrifices by S.L. Armstrong - shapeshifter romance
Wolfcry by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - YA with shapeshifters and werewolves
The Cage by Alyx Dellamonica - lesbian couple with werewolf baby
"Skylar's Pride" by Lara Zielinsky - shapeshifter romance, short story
Touch of Silver by Nicole Gestalt - shapeshifter erotica
Werewolf: The Beginning and Werewolf: The Return by  Peggy Sue Gregory - lesbian werewolf romance
Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff - middle-aged coming out novel, with werewolves
"Leader of the Pack" by Catherine Lundoff - short story, werewolf erotica
"What I Did on My Summer Vacation" and major trans wolf shapeshifter - Wonder City Stories by
Jude McLaughlin. http://wonder-city.dreamwidth.org/11192.html

Movies:
Jack and Diane - movie featuring teen protagonists, one of whom may be a werewolf

Comics:
Anathema by
Rachel Deering - lesbian werewolf horror comic, recently funded through Kickstarter

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