Werefoxes (what they are and where to find them)

Ever since I got into the whole werewolf genre, I’ve wanted to see a werefox. People do all the other big predators–weretigers, werepanthers, werebears, weredragons. I’m pretty sure there’s even wererats out there. But foxes just aren’t as widespread.

Upon hunting around on Amazon, I turned up a few werefox books. This one, Bronze Fox, is about a guy who turns into a fox in a kind of steampunk setting. It was interesting. From what I gather, anyone who turns into a fox will have vulpine characteristics–cunning, crafty, quick, all that stuff we associate with foxes.

Wolves, on the other hand, are the ever-popular pack hunters of the night. More dangerous, I suppose. You never hear about people being killed by a pack of foxes. The worst thing they do is kill chickens or cats.

But maybe a smart hero is intimidating–after all, most werewolf stories these days are romances. “We don’t want our men smarter than us!” the ladies shriek. “We want him with rippling abs, not a brain!”

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Werefox by someone I’m not sure who (will attribute once I know!)

I wanted a werefox story. I hunted Amazon, I hunted Wattpad, and turned up a whole lot of NOPE. Oh, there’s werefoxes out there, but it’s just an orange-colored wolf. There’s little exploration of how different foxes are from wolves, or that they’re crafty, and make different sounds, and even snarl differently. (Wolves bare their teeth–foxes open their mouths all the way.)

So I set about writing a paranormal romance that features a werefox. I wanted it to be a wolf guy and a fox girl, so they could deal with their animal differences as well as their human ones.

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Werefox by Akineza

This brought up another question–do people have to be bitten to become a werefox, the way they do with werewolves? Or do they transform a different way?

This led me on a tangent into alchemy, particularly their bonkers teaching that all matter can turn into all other matter–the “mutability of form” principle. Alchemy isn’t too far off our modern-day chemistry, actually. I had to really dig around to find the crazy stuff. But it added a really fun angle to this particular story.

Because it’s me writing, it turned out as more of a romantic suspense than a straight romance. Come on, there has to be a proper fox hunt at least ONCE, right?

Anyway, Outfoxing the Wolf will launch on all major vendors later this week. Maybe you, too, will enjoy the ins and outs of a werefox vs a werewolf.

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Inktober, first week

There’s a fun meme going on this month called Inktober. Basically you draw something with an ink pen every day of the month, then show it around online.

I didn’t feel like doodling on paper when I have a perfectly good tablet. So I just drew with pure black and no erasing.

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Okay, I erased a few things on the first three. I was rusty.

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No erasing here! Just pure scribbly goodness.

I think I’ll post a compilation of drawings every weekend and see what drivel I churned out. 🙂

Turned: A werewolf romance novella

I forgot to post about when I released my werewolf romance novella. Silly me!

Here it is:

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Amazon link

A loveless marriage. A werewolf curse.

In the rainy near-Earth land of Grayton, Bernard and Charlotte Preston lead separate lives. An arranged marriage has left them with plenty of money and a cold relationship. She craves social esteem–while she wishes for the love her marriage has never contained.

He is an alchemist who is desperately seeking a cure for the werewolf curse. Yet he, too, is plagued by loneliness and a wistful admiration for his distant wife.

When the werewolves attack Lyedyn City the night of the Spring Ball, Bernard and Charlotte together fall under the curse. Retaining only their sanity, they flee deep into the forest to escape the hunters. Hungry and afraid, the estranged couple works together to survive … and the romance they’ve never had begins to blossom.

But their newfound love may be cut short by the ruthless man who controls the werewolves, and who hopes a cure is never found.

This is a sweet paranormal romance with no sex.

This story started life as a fanfic very loosely based on World of Warcraft. But since the characters were mine and I only borrowed a few names and the setting, it was easy to rewrite into an original story. It remains near and dear to my heart.

Besides, I like love stories that aren’t quite guy-meets-girl. These two are already married, so their romance is that much sweeter.

Hard werewolf questions

This is continuing on from my previous post on werewolves and Christianity.

I guess with Halloween coming on, I’ve been slipping into that appetite for horror I get once a year. It’s pretty hard to ignore when one of your neighbors decorates their apartment in lime-green cobwebs with a Zombie Crossing sign outside. Once it got dark outside, inside you could see they had plastic skulls hanging from their ceiling fan, spinning round and round and looking frankly hilarious.

Everywhere you go, there’s spooky scarecrows and witches and ghosts and pumpkins and decorative gourds. The colors alone make my heart go pit-a-pat.

Pumpkin and Gourd Display, via Wikimedia Commons by Sdwelch1031
Pumpkin and Gourd Display, via Wikimedia Commons by Sdwelch1031

I read so many wolf books growing up, I guess werewolves are just my favorite monster.

That and any woman who has experienced PMS knows what it’s like to change into a monster once a month.

Maybe that’s why I don’t do vampires–I can’t figure out how to identify with them. Parasites just don’t strike me as adorable, I’m afraid.

My mom had this old, old book about the animal kingdom, and when I was feeling daring, I’d get it off the shelf and see how far I could get. It started with the small stuff–paramecium and amoebas and such. Then it worked up to worms and parasites. Earthworms I can handle, but not the tapeworms. All detailed with nice closeups.

Eventually I’d be so grossed out, I’d slam the book shut and shove it back on the shelf.

Vampires, to me, are about as attractive of those closeups of tapeworms.

I know there’s books out there that have vampires wrestling with the dual nature–their thirst for blood and their attempt to remain human. But that doesn’t excite me like seeing the werewolf do the same thing. The vampire succumbs to appetite, while the werewolf succumbs to insanity.

To me, slipping over that edge and losing your humanity–and your mind–is the truly frightening thing.

George McDonald played with wicked people evolving backward into beasts. At its root, that’s the werewolf myth. And who hasn’t seen evil, debased people who were far below any self-respecting member of the animal kingdom?

That’s why I think it’s a shame that Christians don’t write books dealing with monsters more often. I want to read a book about a classic werewolf like a Christian Lupin (from Harry Potter)–who struggles with his faith and his monthly craving for raw meat. Who is desperately seeking redemption, even though it might mean his death (you can’t kill Hyde without also killing Jekyll).

That’s one reason I just loved Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather books. His lycanthropes are the truly frightening ones, and when one of the heroes gets turned into one, it makes it all the more sad and terrifying.

I want to see someone tackle hard questions like, when a person loses their memory and their personality changes, are they still saved? How much of the evil coming through is their fallen nature, and how much is the true darkness of their soul?

Where does a Christian take that? Is God’s grace and mercy still bigger than the demented werewolf?

Christians and werewolves

I’ve been chewing on the idea of a Christian Werewolf Romance. I’ve been able to parse the Werewolf Romance fine, but the Christian element is stumping me.

I got on Google and started looking for “a Christian perspective on werewolves”. There are loads of articles about Christians talking about vampires, Twilight, and why such things are bad and evil. There’s articles from non-Christians making fun of Christians for their views.

But I can’t find any Christians tackling the werewolf mythos head on. So I guess that leaves me.

First, werewolf mythos in general. These are some great quotes from The Book of Were-Wolves by S. Baring-Gould.

WHAT is Lycanthropy? The change of manor woman into the form of a wolf, either through
magical means, so as to enable him or her to gratify the taste for human flesh, or through judgment of the gods in punishment for some great offence.

And Herodotus:–” It seems that the Neuri are sorcerers, if one is to believe the Scythians and the Greeks established in Scythia; for each Neurian changes himself, once in the year, into the form of a wolf, and he continues in that form for several days, after which he resumes his former shape.”–( Lib. iv. c. 105.)

But the most remarkable story among the ancients is that related by Ovid in his “Metamorphoses,” of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who , entertaining Jupiter one day , set before him a hash of human flesh, to prove his omniscience, whereupon the god transferred him into a wolf:

In vain he attempted to speak; from that very instant His jaws were bespluttered with foam, and only he thirsted For blood, as he raged amongst flocks and panted for slaughter. His vesture was changed into hair, his limbs became crooked; A wolf,–he retains yet large trace of his ancient expression, Hoary he is as afore, his countenance rabid, His eyes glitter savagely still, the picture of fury.

Pliny relates from Evanthes, that on the festival of Jupiter Lycæus, one of the family of Antæus was selected by lot, and conducted to the brink of the Arcadian lake. He then hung his clothes on a tree and plunged into the water, whereupon he was transformed into a wolf. Nine years after, if he had not tasted human flesh, he was at liberty to swim back and resume his former shape, which had in the meantime become aged, as though he had worn it for nine years.

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Curse of the Worgen, copyright Blizzard Entertainment

And it goes on. Only wicked people turned into were-wolves, and they always roamed around and ate people. Real lycanthropy is a mental illness where a person believes they’re an animal, and I imagine some of the stories come from that.

You know in the Gospels when Jesus casts the demons out of the dude who’d been living in the tombs, and the demons said their name was Legion? Yeah, I imagine that sort of thing contributed, too.

So, bad werewolves are typically the lycanthrope kind, the ones Hollywood uses. Big nasty monsters and all.

But what about the other kind? The Twilight wolves, the modern day ones formed by studies of real wolves living and hunting in a family unit and having a close-knit society?

Werewolf fans refer to these as “shifters”. It’s a person who can shapeshift into a wolf, but it’s not a monster. A lot of times they retain human memories and intelligence, too. This is closer to fairytales and fantasy, where people can turn into an animal of their choice.

There’s no black magic involved–it’s usually genetics, similar to the X-men, who get their powers at a certain age. In Twilight they were all Native Americans who had inherited the ability to change into spirit wolves, and the proximity of vampires was triggering their transformations. (Which is brilliant, if you ask me.)

Which gets us into shapeshifting, period. This shows up a lot in mythology and fairytales, and Wikipedia has an interesting take on it.

An important aspect of shape-shifting, thematically, is whether the transformation is voluntary. Circe transforms intruders to her island into swine, whereas Ged, in A Wizard of Earthsea, becomes a hawk to escape an evil wizard’s stronghold. When a form is taken on involuntarily, the thematic effect is one of confinement and restraint; the person is bound to the new form. In extreme cases, such as petrifaction, the character is entirely disabled.

Voluntary forms, on the other hand, are means of escape and liberation; even when the form is not undertaken to effect a literal escape, the abilities specific to the form, or the disguise afforded by it, allow the character to act in a manner previously impossible.

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From Afar, by Nambroth. Click for original image.

It goes on to talk about fairytales where people were turned into animals, like the prince who was turned into a bear in Snow White and Rose Red, or the seven brothers who were turned into swans. That’s always a Bad Thing, like an evil spell of some kind.

But a person who can turn themselves into animals is always a freedom issue. Think of Sirius Black in Harry Potter, who escaped prison. Or Animorphs, or any number of stories where being able to turn into something else is a good thing. (Remember the girl who turned into a guinea pig in Sky High?)

Now we’re getting away from the whole “is it Christian” thing and into the realm of imagination and storytelling. The Bible has all kinds of stories that aren’t particularly Christian, like the trees trying to elect a new leader, or Jesus’s parables. Because Jesus told stories about unscrupulous servants and unrighteous judges, does that make his stories bad?

Jesus was making a point.

So if we want to write stories about people who can turn into animals, and yet go to church and see their alternate form as a way to explore and enjoy creation, well, that’d be a fun read. We can make our point, too.

Christians are writing vampire and werewolf books, like Never Ceese, which started out self-published. Lycanthropes are always bad, but it’d be fun to see somebody tackle the shapeshifter idea, too.