Next to vampires, I think werewolves are one of the commonest paranormal genres in the erotica heading. When I started my first paranormal story, it was werewolves that I made my subject, partly because vampires seemed to be getting press left right and centre, and partly because I like werewolves.
A while before penning my first werewolf story, I saw a documentary on the account of a werewolf incident in what is now Germany in the late medieval period, written by a monk who passed through the village shortly after the events. Essentially, children in the village were disappearing and being found murdered and partly eaten one winter. The villagers were well acquainted with wolves and how to deal with them, but these killings were different and some of the tracks they found were human. Not just children were killed, travellers too had been preyed upon. The events described were really quite frightening, given the simplicity of the people involved, but viewed through modern eyes the layers could be peeled back to see the signatures of a serial killer. In the end, when one victim survived an attack and called for help, the perpetrator was caught, tortured for a full confession, and executed by burning.
What was clear was that the villagers concluded this man HAD to be a werewolf, because how else could a man do such monstrous things, save by becoming a beast? He had to be a monster, because he did monstrous things, therefore, as he looked human, he must have changed his shape – something he confirmed under interrogation with red-hot pokers and the like. Yet not so very far from me is a village who’s notoriety is drawn from two of it’s occupants who kidnapped and murdered several children. Only a few miles from that village is the town where an unremarkable but much appreciated family doctor gained infamy as the world’s most prolific confirmed serial killer (there have been killers that claimed more victims, and may have had them, but this one was the worst for which they have proof of the numbers – and what is scary is that they didn’t run out of suspected victims to confirm, they ran out of time and money for investigating).
Clearly, monsters can wear a human skin all the time, and this idea had a very strong influence on me.
So, breaking out of the maudlin train of thought about serial killers (and I do not want to romanticise serial killers, no way!), I decided that my “werewolves” were going to stay in a human shape all the time. They were not going to change shape, they were going to change attitude. I’m not sure anyone else has ever described werewolves this way, but my content editor loved the idea. Besides, I wanted good sex in my story and I am not into furries.
As with my vampires I wanted a rationale for their existence. After all, I am a geek, this kind of thing I need to know if only for my own internal satisfaction. The easiest thing for me was to make the werewolf “strain” run in families. That makes it a genetic component, and there are a number of believable little tweaks in DNA that could make a human much stronger, faster, and have sharper senses. I made the “werewolves” recipients of these changes, and I made them recessive traits (otherwise we’d be overrun with werewolves). I also wanted a down-side, something that holds them back. The attitude change idea provided that, and also gave me a great justification for slipping in some kinky bondage: body language. Traits of aggression and leadership that in palaeolithic man would have been massively advantageous would, in a neolithic society, have been a recipe for disaster. Werewolves are not safe around people, because we and they have the wrong body-language at certain times. Humans who love the wolves must learn their body language and stick to it, and only ropes and blindfolds can ensure that in the throws of passion.
This gave me a third aspect of my werewolves: they are dangerous. When you get involved with one, you are playing with dynamite. Their instincts are strong, and they are physically very powerful. Under the full moon, their control is at it’s weakest and you really do not want to be around them then.
And that in turn gives me the final factor of tragedy: it’s hard being a wolf, because you have to live apart. If you want a girlfriend, you are living with the fact that if you lose it you could accidentally kill her. They say wolves mate for life…but that doesn’t mean forever.
Lastly, these are people, they are intelligent, and they can figure out answers to their problems. They live in families, so that probably makes them a society. They’ll do what people do and organise, so I have whole sub-culture to explore.
OK, now I have my various factors, now I can go and create my werewolves.
First, in Street Wolf I wanted a werewolf who was not cast in the mould, but lived in the city. I was really flattered when one reviewer described him as the anti-hero, because that was exactly the feeling I was reaching for with him. He’s dangerous, and although he saves the heroine’s life at the start of the story his savagery in doing so is undeniable.
Second, in The Alpha, I wanted to introduce an older, smarter werewolf. This guy heads up the pack, and gets his people out from the constraints of civilisation to where they can be themselves. Of course even in the wild you can’t escape modern civilisation, and in flies my heroine (literally), an ecologist tracking he effects of climate change. They say when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…
Third, in Animal Magnetism, I wanted the younger wolf, the kid discovering who he is for the very first time along with all the agony and angst that goes with it. Who will stick by him? Who else but his high school girlfriend, who ignores all the warnings and marches off to where she shouldn’t be because she knows in her heart that she’s needed. Did I mention that werewolves have strong pheromones?
Last, my final wolf gave an introduction to that complete off-the-grid sub-culture I mentioned. In The Wolf With The Red Roses I took the title from a Meatloaf song (and gave credit), and the concept of the biker gang comprised entirely of werewolves is an old trope I had to revisit. These guys don’t make trouble, though, they avoid it and avoid attention, and are quite at peace with who they are and where they live.
I’m rather proud of this series, because there is a whole lot more to it than just blindfolds and rope and rough sex. There is a lot of plot and story and interest – you know you are onto a good thing when your content editor demands you expand this into a novel!
So here it is, the werewolf collection: dark, evocative, steamy, but also touched with some pathos and humanity. Monsters can wear a human skin, but even monsters can be humane…