It’s been a while since the last Werewolf Talk post, but this one comes with a raffle so is surely worth the wait! Yes you read that right: author Shawna Reppert is offering a free Audible copy of her novel A Hunt by Moonlight to the lucky winner.
A Hunt by Moonlight
Something more deadly than werewolves is stalking the gaslit streets of London. Inspector Royston Jones, unacknowledged bastard of a high-born family, is determined to track the killer before more young women fall to his knife. But his investigation puts him in the way of a lord who is a clandestine werewolf and the man’s fiancée , a woman alchemist with attitude and a secret of her own. Will they destroy Royston to protect their covert identities, or will they join with him to hunt the hunter?
To enter, FOLLOW Shawna on Twitter @ShawnaReppert and tweet your favourite werewolf gif, tagged #HuntByMoonlightRaffle. The winner will be chosen and announced on Sunday 30th August 2020.
Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines. Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul. You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website (www.Shawna-Reppert.com). You can friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts an amazing array of geekery. In the past, Shawna has on occasion been found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her. More recently, she has been spotted in Victorian dress taking tea with her costumer friends.
Werewolf Talk with Shawna Reppert
Q1. What are your impressions of the werewolf in fiction/film? Do you have fave books/movies?
Okay, this is going to sound horribly arrogant, so let me state at the outset that I am speaking about my own personal tastes and not saying that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. The truth is, I actually dislike how werewolves are portrayed in most fiction and film. I grew up with the half-formed scruffy wolfman version of werewolves that has about as much resemblance to real wolves as Mickey Mouse does to a real rodent. In their changed form, they were grotesque, slavering things with no thoughts that existed only to kill. Not terribly interesting as villains and certainly not attractive as a protagonist.
One of the only books I came across that had a werewolf version that I actually like was Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint. Not surprising, really. . . he’s one of the writing gods at whose alter I joyfully worship. His wolf, when he becomes a wolf, is a true wolf, but keeps its human mind. . . if I remember correctly. I read the book when it first came out, about 16 years ago. I do remember that, like all his work, the book was beautifully written and that the werewolf was the hero, and unjustly persecuted. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to dig up that book and read it again. It’s one of the few books by de Lint that I’ve only read once or twice.
Q2 What’s so interesting to you about the werewolf concept? Do you think it has as much power to frighten or horrify as it once did?
What really drew me to the werewolf was the wolf part of it. I’ve always loved wolves. In my twenties I had a wolf-hybrid with a high percentage of wild blood. Basically, Seamus had just enough husky in him that I could tell people that he was a ‘husky mix’ without having to cross my fingers behind my back. Seamus died in his sleep on the winter solstice of 2002. I still dream about him at night and wake up missing him.
I feel like I have a really deep spiritual connection with the wolf, so when I decided to write werewolves I knew I wanted to focus on the instincts and the unique capabilities of the wolf. Wolves’ senses are so keen, they get so much information from their sharper hearing and especially from their keen sense of smell, it’s like they are living in another world superimposed on our own. I wanted to write novels where those wolf-senses are integral to the story, and that’s what lead me to the idea of writing werewolf mysteries. I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and much is made of his ability to solve a mystery due to his sharp observational skills, including the ability to discern and catalogue scents. It occurred to me that a wolf’s keen senses would be of great advantage in solving a case.
I think the idea that werewolves are supposed to horrify or frighten is based in a worldview that what is wild and natural is evil, and therefore it’s not a vision of werewolves that I have any interest in.
Everyone is entitled to their own take on a fantastic creature, of course. I come from a very pagan approach, where nature is sacred. Wildness is not evil and the Other is not something that’s necessarily to be feared and hated. Not everyone in my book would agree with that view, however. Far from it. In my version of Victorian London werewolves are existing out in the open, but they’re very much—well, not even second-class citizens. More like third or fourth class citizens in most people’s eyes. It’s interesting to play with that. It’s a great way to talk about things like racism, homophobia, and sexism without using the buzzwords that get everyone’s back up. It’s a sideways approach that works around people’s preconceived ideas.
For those authors who do want their werewolves to horrify and frighten, whether the werewolf has the power to do so all depends on how well it’s written. If you write them well and you want them to be frightening, they’re going to be frightening. If you don’t do it well, your ‘frightening’ werewolves will wind up camp, comical or just disgusting. It’s all in the writer’s skill and dedication to craft. If writers want their werewolves to live in their readers’ nightmares, they have a lot of material to work with in the collective unconscious. There’s the whole traditional folklore of werewolves. In most cultures, certainly in most Christian-centric, Eurocentric cultures, werewolves are evil, slavering beasts. People were so afraid of werewolves because people are afraid of themselves and their own wildness. The werewolf represents the animal nature within that early Christian culture tried to suppress. Plus, there’s the primal fear that dates back to when humans spent their days trying to find things to eat while not getting eaten themselves. There’s a bred-in-the bones fear of those shadows out in the forest. Maybe it’s a bear. Maybe it’s just a shadow. You don’t know. Authors who want scary werewolves will always have a lot to work with.
Q. 3 Do you see werewolves and their transformation as a form of body horror? How do you handle this in your work/how do you think about it if not in these terms?
My novels fall more into the genre of gaslamp fantasy or steampunk Victorian detective novels, not horror. Body horror just isn’t a thing I’m interested in. For my main werewolf, the struggle is more psychological. In wolf form, he has a human’s mind with a wolf’s instincts. In the series he has only killed a human in self-defense or the defense of others, but being a Victorian gentleman, he has a hard time dealing with the ‘beastly’ nature of the killings.
I have to admit, writing werewolves in a universe in which they are one of the only fantastical elements makes the whole transformation hard to wrap my mind around. In order to write it, you have to believe it, at least for the span of time during which your hands are on the keyboard. In my own head, I tell myself some hand-waving rationale involving quantum physics and how matter and energy are interchangeable. It probably doesn’t make much sense, but then quantum physics really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, at least not in any way I could put into words. Within my story-world, my characters
are working with a Victorian’s sense of how the world works. They are still arguing about whether failing to wash hands between operations impacts infection rates in surgery patients. There’s a lot about the world they don’t yet understand, and how werewolves transform is just one of the many mysteries their scientists are trying to work out.
Other works by Shawna Reppert:
Moon Over London
Werewolves are disappearing from the gaslit streets of London. Are they being murdered? Kidnapped? Few beyond the ’wolves’ own families notice they’re missing, and fewer still care. With the aid of a clandestine toff werewolf and a lady alchemist with attitude, Inspector Royston Jones is determined to protect all those who dwell in his city. But his superiors are indifferent, the werewolf community suspicious, and he has too few leads and too many suspects—including his estranged uncle. Only one thing is certain—unless he can solve the mystery, more ’wolves will be taken every time the full moon rises.