Today I have a guest post from RJ Blain, author of the newly released Inquisitor. There’s all sorts of goodies in this post, including a book blurb and excerpt, so I won’t be too long-winded in my introduction.
I asked Ms. Blain about how she made her werewolves different from other werewolves within the genre (since Inquisitor deals heavily with werewolves, as I’m sure you guessed) and this is her rather eloquent response …
Werewolves are one of the most frequently written about paranormal creatures in urban fantasy novels, second to the vampire. Writing unique werewolves is difficult. There are concepts that are considered appropriate for werewolves, and straying from these concepts can either confuse readers or earn the author scorn.
After all, wolves have Alpha, Submissive, and Omega ranks in the wild. It just makes sense that these variants exist in urban and paranormal fantasies. How these ranks are executed are one of the ways you can help make your werewolves become unique compared to the ones already out there.
Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with writing a stereotypical werewolf if you’re writing great, unique characters. Werewolves are a species, like humans. Look at how diverse people are.
There is no reason you can’t make your werewolves unique to you.
When I approached my werewolves, I knew I wouldn’t make a completely unique beast. After all, there are (realistically) a limited number of combinations you can use with werewolves and still make them werewolves. Most lycanthropy lore involves the stages of the moon, which adds a nice edge to the curse. Most myths and legends refer to lycanthropy as just that: a curse.
I like blending history and the myths and legends with my own take, so in order to create my werewolves, I had to research lycanthropy, history, and wolves. What sort of people would become werewolves? Why? Could my werewolves be created by choice rather than by random attack?
Those were the first questions I asked, and that’s how I started building my werewolves. I decided that the ritual needed to become a werewolf was a choice. But if lycanthropy is a choice, where did the first werewolf come from?
I then had to think about how a werewolf might come into existence naturally.
This became the foundation of my werewolf society. There are two types of known werewolves in the world: Natural born ones – wolves born to human parents – and changed ones. In Inquisitor, it is revealed there might be a third type of werewolf. I won’t spoil that, though.
Once I figured out what the dynamic between these subspecies of werewolves were, I looked at the type of real werewolves in the world, and decided that the breed of wolf made an impact on the type of werewolf created. Arctic werewolves are considered to be among the rarer breeds of werewolves, matching the rarity of their wild cousins. Grey wolves are the most common type. European werewolves align with European wolves.
The pedigree of werewolf created, I decided, would be determined by the pack transforming the new wolf, predominantly the breeding of the Alpha male and female of the pack. Because it’s a mix of the genetics of the pack as a whole, hybrids between species isn’t uncommon. Purebred wolves are far rarer on account of this, and prized by packs wishing to introduce a strong association with a specific type of wolf.
So, what’s the point of all of these details? What makes a werewolf unique in a world where there are hundreds (if not thousands) of werewolf stories is the details. The little things that make your werewolves unique to you is what is truly important.
Some things are difficult to avoid. Omegas serve a very specific role in canine packs. They serve this same role, amplified, in werewolf packs. How they do it is where the differences often lie. It is the same with submissive wolves and dominant wolves. How they function within the pack is the difference, not their specific function. If you stray too far from the natural roles of wolves within the pack, you end up with a werewolf that doesn’t feel like a werewolf.
Go ahead and write your werewolves. Just make sure you ask yourself what the details are that make them unique to you.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She also has a tendency to play MMOs and other computer games.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.
When Allison is asked to play Cinderella-turned-Fiancee at a Halloween ball, the last thing she expected was to be accused of murder on the same night. She has to find the killer and quick, or she’ll be put to death for the crimes she didn’t commit. To make matters worse, the victims are all werewolves.
On the short list of potential victims, Allison has to act fast, or the killer will have one more body to add to his little black book of corpses.
There’s only one problem: One of the deaths has struck too close to home, and Allison’s desire for self-preservation may very well transform into a quest for vengeance…
It was well enough our ‘relationship’ was nothing more than make-believe. Our friendship wasn’t much better off, either. Unfortunately, Mark didn’t know that. I shook my head to clear it, staring down at my watch.
I glanced eastward, at the glass-lined wall of the jewelry store I was in. Shoppers hurried about their business in the broad mall hallways, chatting to each other or talking on their too-expensive cell phones. Beyond the walls of the building, I could already feel the moon calling to me, birthing shivers under my skin. In a little over an hour, it would start to rise. I made a thoughtful sound, turning my attention back to the glass case in front of me.
It was a full moon on Halloween. Some people would don masks, confident in their superiority as a human, never realizing how close they’d tread to a very violent and bloody end. Others would remove the masks they normally hid behind, rejoicing in their one night of freedom.
A sad few would have no idea what horrors they had sowed come morning.
I was in a lot of trouble. My fellow boogeymen didn’t frighten me all that much. It was Mark who worried me. Mark, as well as the other humans he’d subject me to before the night was done. I hadn’t lost control in years — I doubted Mark’s mother had been born since the last time it’d happened.
But that didn’t change the fact that it could happen.
Old or not, I was still a bitch. Without pack or mate, it was only a matter of time before I lost control.
Mark wouldn’t stand a chance, and when I finally lost my grip on sanity, I wouldn’t even remember killing him. Why hadn’t I said no? Why had I agreed to travel to New York on Halloween? What had I been thinking?
I hadn’t been, and that was a big problem.
“Is there something I can help you with, miss?” A woman asked from beside me. I about jumped out of my skin.
Shit. I swallowed back my heart and improvised. Without really seeing the jewelry beneath the glass, I pointed at something shiny, and hoped it was a necklace. “May I see that please?”
“That’s a very expensive piece, ma’am.”
I glanced at the woman out of the corner of my eye. A pastel pink blazer was matched with a pencil skirt that showed off thin legs and knee-high black boots. Glittering bracelets clung to her wrists. “Is that so,” I murmured, focusing my attention on the piece I pointed at.
Rubies and diamonds winked at me, woven together in a Celtic knot trapped in the center of a web of delicate diamond-encrusted chains. My cheek twitched.
No wonder the woman was skeptical and eying me suspiciously. Here I was, in some luxury jewelry store poking around to waste time, dressed in a beat-up leather coat, a baggy sweater, and worn jeans, complete with mud splatter from my walk in Central park. As my luck had it, I pointed out a necklace worth more than any car or house I’d ever seen in person, let alone owned.
I felt the eyes of every customer in the store settle on me. Great. Just what I needed. An audience.
Maybe I should’ve acted more indignant. Maybe I should’ve walked away. Instead, I took out my wallet, pulled out my black platinum Amex card, and tossed it on the counter. “May I see that please?”
The sales woman stared at the card and then at me, her eyes narrowing. “Do you really think I’m going to believe this is your card?”
Half of the customers in the store cleared out in the time it took the sales woman to pick up my card.
“Is there a problem?” A man dressed in a business suit stepped forward. His blue eyes took in my clothes before settling on the black credit card in his coworker’s hand.
The woman glared down her nose at me, her gaze settling on my beat-up jacket. “I do believe we have a stolen credit card here, sir.”
The manager snatched my credit card. “Is this true, miss?”
Oh hell no. I felt my cheek twitch again. “It’s not. I’ll just take my card to a different store, then.”
“I think this can be resolved quickly and easily, miss,” the man replied. He frowned at me. “Can I see your ID please?”
I showed him my license. The manager winced. “I’m sorry, there have been a lot of theft of valuable jewelry lately by those with fraudulent credit cards and out of state driver’s licenses. This will only take a few minutes as I verify this is a real card.”
Well, at least he wasn’t going to call the police on me right away. I sighed. “Since when hasn’t my driver’s license been sufficient proof? What is this? LA?”