Friday, 22 July 2016

A Werewolf by any other name

Werewolves are proving to be just as popular in fantasy now as vampires. I quite like them because they are the antithesis to the vampire. They have almost too much life in them. The one thing they do tend to share with the vampire in their fictional works, is they tend to be very good looking people. There human sides are often muscular, tanned but with maybe one or two scars just to give them some personality.

However its the wolf sides that vary in such dramatic degrees, from the tough skinned, long limbed, only partially haired wolf man of things like American Werewolf in Paris and Underworld, to the more natural looking wolves of Blood & Chocolate and the Twilight series.

Each type seem to favours a different type of backstory too. The more grotesque monstrous wolf man versions are the results of a disease. A contagion of unknown origins that is passed through biting their victims and them being forced every full moon to turn.

The more natural wolf shape, almost to the point where they can be mistaken for actual wolves or large dogs tend to favour a more mystical angle. Sometimes its a curse, other times it involves Native American shamans and tends to run in families making for large packs. These more beautiful versions are becoming much more popular than their fiercer counterparts for the purposes of romance fiction.

Its the form of choice for some of the most popular books and the shows made from them such as Vampire Diaries, Bitten, Twilight etc. Of course, quite what Buffy the Vampire Slayer did with werewolves, I don't understand.

Perhaps these versions of werewolves are more appealing because they are a lot less frightening. I myself lean towards this type when writing mainly because of how much more believable it is. If they look like real wolves then its less likely for their secret culture to be discovered by humans.

The whole mythos of werewolves can be interpreted in many different ways but most authors agree on the same things. There is some connection to the full moon. Silver hurts them. They mostly run in packs with the few loners dotted here and there. They are strong fierce fighters, mostly loyal and they don't like vampires. More on that another time.

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