A little while ago on Facebook, I invited people to ask me questions about my book, my writing process, or anything along those lines. Several people responded (thank you, guys!) and here are my answers to the good, thoughtful questions they posed:
Q: How did you decide upon the werewolf lore for your novel – did you base it on research or just create it as needed for the story? – Katherine
A: I’ve read/watched many different werewolf books and movies—for fun, but I guess that counts as research too—and each one seems to have a slightly different twist on werewolf lore. I’d say mine’s a bit of a mishmash. I didn’t want to just copycat; I grabbed the elements that I liked and that helped my story. I didn’t have everything absolutely set in stone when I began writing.
In case you were wondering, here are the three main types of werewolf lore I’ve come across:
1. Fluffy and fun
Most of the newer werewolf books/movies—like Twilight—have the kind that can transform at will, no full moon required, and the change isn’t painful but usually pretty fun. These typically weren’t bitten but were born a werewolf, there are alphas and packs, and they act and feel more animalistic even as a human. This type of werewolf (I call it the “fluffy” kind) had almost no influence on my lore. I can’t say exactly why it didn’t, but this was not the first type of werewolf book I read, so it didn’t have an early influence on my psyche.
There are a couple of werewolf books* I’ve read in which the person (or corpse) is possessed by a demon that has made them a werewolf. In one of these books, the demon is a parasite in a living host and is only able to control the person on one night: the true full moon. If its host were to be killed, the demon would still control the body, and it would become “the undead”—I’m guessing either a vampire or a zombie; the book’s not super clear on that (it doesn’t happen in the plot). The demon-possession angle did not really influence my book either, because although I will read books about demons, I don’t care to write them.
I’d say my werewolf lore is fairly traditional, i.e., The Wolf Man, with a protagonist suffering from a bite that forces them to transform against their will at the full moon. It’s also similar to the Harry Potter werewolf lore—without the wizarding element, of course. It’s painful and exhausting, they have no mental control when transformed, and people are afraid of them . . . rightly so, because they’re vicious killers (though frequently mild-mannered as humans).
My choice to have three full moon nights rather than one, like in Harry Potter and The Wolf Man, was inspired by An American Werewolf in London, and I did it to add more danger to the story. Mel disappears for longer, and it raises more suspicion. She misses more classes and has more work to catch up on. Also, werewolf hunters have more time to hunt. *ominous organ music playing*
Q: What made you decide to write about werewolves rather than any other mythic creature? – Katherine
A: I was definitely influenced by Harry Potter. (As I’ve said before, Hunter’s Moon started out as an HP fanfiction.) My favorite character is Remus Lupin; he’s so kind and unassuming and the last person you’d expect to turn into a vicious monster, and that sort of paradox captivated me. Jekyll and Hyde. The Hulk. Love it all.
Also, wolves are beautiful. I wanted mine to look like real wolves because they’re under such a nasty curse, they may as well turn into something that looks pretty, LOL. There’s another reason, but it’s spoilerish.
Werewolves can go out in sunlight, unlike (traditional) vampires, so it’s easier to have a normal college life—except on a certain few days. Werewolves are fast and strong and cool and I connect more with them than, say, mermaids or unicorns. With my water phobia (being submerged in a large body of water like the ocean with who-knows-what creature lurking to eat me), don’t expect me to write mermaids!
Perhaps I’ll try writing ninja or samurai vampires someday, after this trilogy. . . .
Q: What did you hope to do differently with the werewolf genre and how did you want to make your story unique? – Vasiliki
A: As I mentioned when answering the first question, I didn’t want to just copy one of the three types and write another Twilight or The Wolf Man. Those are already out there, not to mention I’m an Enneagram 4 and I must be different! Hehe. But, yeah, I just wrote what came out of me and what I wanted to write; and of course I knew that way it would be unique, because I’m an enigma wrapped in a mystery and covered in heart-shaped eyes, Baby Yoda stickers, and also barbs cleverly disguised as fluff—or is it the other way around? With a gooey chocolate center. (You are what you eat!)
Q: Did any of your characters take on a bigger role in the plot or become more interesting than you’d intended? – Ann
A: A bit—I wouldn’t say anybody hijacked the plot. But Sheila, for instance, grew on me as I was writing her, and I enjoyed her attitude and spunk so much that I gave her some really funny lines near the end of book 1. Look for more in book 2!
Jocelyn is a favorite of mine. She didn’t take on a larger role than I’d intended, but I did reach deeply enough to find her softer side. And in book 2 there are some characters (introduced in a scene from Jocelyn’s POV) who took on a much bigger life of their own as I wrote—they just jumped off the page (computer screen), and I love them so much that I had to fit them meaningfully into the plot so they can stay and not get axed by my editor. :D
Q: If you were a mythical creature, which one would you be? – Tom
A: I’d be a phoenix. I’ve definitely got a fire in me (although I wish I didn’t have such a temper . . .), and I’ve been through a lot of fiery trials. I felt dead for about half my 20s, then was kindled back to life and now I’m finally blazing full-force with a passion I discovered in summer of 2019: helping other underdog writers like me through forming Thinklings Books.
Thanks for all the questions, and I hope you’re having a beautiful holiday season. May your days be merry and bright! And may 2020 end quickly . . . lol.
No, I have to be thankful for this year despite all the bad, because even though it’s been really hard and I’ve been in tears a lot, I can see that I’ve learned and grown quite a bit. (And I gained a human nephew and a canine niece!) I hope you can also find glimmers of hope in this dark, wintery, pandemic season.
* I don’t want to spoil which books here, but you can find them both in my Spooky Books! blog post.
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.