Gothic Fiction, Uncategorized, werewolves

Let’s Talk About Wolves #2: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Look at the soft, succulent flesh on that, Canis whispered, wheedling now, all warm-blooded and fattened up ripe and tender, you’ll still taste the vodka in the meat, in her warm, fragrant blood –

– oh god, Meredith thought, creeping closer until the scent of Tina’s subtle perfume filled her nostrils, Fresh blood pulsing into my mouth, over my face, oh my god that’s good

-soft, slippery fat sliding by your muzzle to get to the good bits underneath, the plump liver and those tasty little kidneys, the bones grinding against your fangs when you crunch down, god, Meri baby, what are you waiting for, rip her up across the belly (you’ve seen her in that little black skirt where it strains across the middle, it’s getting small for her, it’s like she’s fattening herself up just for you), go on Meri baby, do it for me, baby, DO IT-

Tina spun around so fast that Meredith was startled, springing back just in time as the Taser waved in warning. She had crept up so close Tina must have felt her breath on her hair.

“Back off,” Tina snapped. “I don’t want to hurt you, Meredith, but by the gods I will fry your guts with this thing before you can say ‘silver bullet’. Got it? Go sit in reception if it’s too much for you in there. What the hell is wrong with you?”

~Real Meat Draft 1, Ch. 3

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Not Tina Harris, for a start. Then again, it takes a lot to scare Tina Harris. In fairness, you probably ought to be scared of James Baskerville, he whose ancestor scared Sir Arthur Conan Doyle witless and shitless on a dark moor that one time, but he also calls himself “Canis” unironically and… there’s not a lot you can do about someone like that.

So who is scared of werewolves? Are we afraid of monsters the way we used to be? Or are we so familiar with the concept that we’ve tamed it, brought it down into the world of domestication and redemption arcs, and now it no longer bothers us or taps into current social anxieties?

I asked around…

Here’s author Richard Brown with his thoughts on this question.

Richard is the author of horror and speculative fiction short stories such as A Hole in the Somewhere, scheduled to appear on in the April edition.  He is currently finishing his debut novel, currently titled The Last Butterfly, about the innocuous encounters and events that lead to a bio-terror event that threatens humanity’s survival.  

Richard’s online presence:

Twitter:  @RBrownAuthor

Werewolves entered my existence at the age of 5 when I snuck out of bed one night and hid behind the couch as my mother was watching The Howling on tv.  I think I wet the bed that night, and for several nights following.  Werewolves have had a special place in my heart and mind ever since.

I’ve seen Lon Chaney as a werewolf, and Michael Landon, but was unimpressed by those movies.  Maybe they were too old-fashioned for me?  I don’t know.  I’ve never seen a werewolf on screen that impressed me, actually.  I think it might be because Hollywood is unable to scare me, as an adult, as thoroughly as it did when I was five.  Silver Bullet, the adaptation of Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf, was close to impressing me, but I was a young teen at that time, and King is a master of the mass-appeal story.

In IT, King featured a werewolf as the instrument of terror for one of the kids/heroes, and that was well done because it wasn’t the focus of the entire book; just one small part.  It was like a small taste of an old recipe, a favorite dish from childhood, without stuffing yourself full and missing out on new recipes.  Just a flashback to old, almost forgotten terrors.

In the new century, Jonathan Maberry wrote a trilogy that featured werewolves, vampires, and things more akin to zombies than anything else, except maybe ghouls.  In the Pine Deep trilogy, Maberry gives the werewolf in question mystical, sorcerous powers.  He also lets the transformation of the werewolf’s ‘children’, i.e. bite victims, last for almost the entire series, so readers get the chance to experience the mental, psychological, spiritual, and physical torment that takes place.  

Similarly, Stephanie Meyers’s werewolf in the Twilight Saga also faced moral dilemmas, not to mention racial stereotypes and biases, but came to terms with his ‘heritage’ fairly quickly and painlessly, at least as depicted in the films. The Twilight werewolf is a prime example of the trend of making the werewolf a tragic figure, and/or a heroic figure.  I think it’s good, in general, to twist stereotypes and cast surprising characters as heroes, and I’m especially a fan of the anti-hero.  I’ve always thought werewolves were tragic figures.  Lycanthropy has long been thought of as a curse, so I’m excited by the effort to describe why it’s a curse.   However, the power and abilities that typically come with the transformation would realistically lead to some characters seeking it out for their own nefarious purposes.  So, there’s always a place for the villainous, or at least threatening, werewolf.

The challenge for today’s authors is to create a horrifying werewolf.  With growing awareness of nature, ecosystems, and various wildlife specimens, the wolf no longer holds the terrifying mystique that it once did.  Now, the only aspect of the werewolf that really has a chance of scaring readers is the idea of losing one’s humanity.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts? Comment below!

1 thought on “Let’s Talk About Wolves #2: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

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