One of the big shifts for me as a writer in 2009 is to get back to the paranormal, and more specifically paranormal romance. I’ve been reading as voraciously as my schedule will allow, focusing heavily on books featuring werewolves, since that’s the topic of my first dip back into the paranormal pool. I’ve been dusting off all my folkloric references and browsing myth and lore relating to werewolves–their origins, their strengths, their weaknesses. And I want to buy more. I’m not alone, if today’s Murder She Writes post by Allison Brennan is any indication. Oh, would that I could buy books and count them as a tax write off!
I’ve been on the fence about how much research to do as I build my world. Good sense dictates I should read as widely as possible in the genre to see what’s been done before me so that I don’t duplicate it exactly. And I spent a pretty big chunk on buying books to do just that. But I haven’t done anything yet to expand my reference collection. Werewolves have never been a major interest for me before–mainly because I’m not a fan of the hollywooded up half man/half beast variety. Those always seemed silly to me. But anyway, other than the classic “everybody knows that” lore, I don’t have as solid a basis in werewolf lore as I do for other races. As I’ve been plowing through my genre books, I’ve been keeping a notebook, jotting down information on how different authors dealt with different issues, how they built their worlds. So far I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff and none of it is exactly what I want to do, so no problem there yet. And I know most of the important stuff I need to know about this world for the book I’m about to write, but there are broader issues of worldbuilding, in terms of how following books will come together, that require a firm decision on not only the origins of werewolves, but of all the other paranormal races in my world. Because the origins and histories will impact a lot of the politics and prejudices between the various races in the now. And that is very germane to HiS because my heroine Marley is only half wolf and half…something else.
I guess I’m wanting to do more research as both a way to stoke the creative fires and to see how much I want to stick to existing myth and lore. I used to do that a lot. Take existing legend and weave it into a modern day story. Now I’m inclined to make up my own because while mythologies across the world have many very similar creatures and stories…I feel like human interpretation has to be wrong (which is why the paranormal world remains hidden in my stories). Though that doesn’t stop my lust for more books–as if I actually had any shelf space. I’ll have to check out the library’s collections, though I doubt I’m going to find much.
Anybody have any good references on werewolves to recommend?
Holly Lisle has a series of werewolf books that are pretty good, a series called The Secret Texts, which I really enjoyed. You may already know that, since I think that’s how I found you in the first place was through the snippets. 🙂
I find that with world-building you can spend oodles of time building and not writing, but that said, my fantasy novel has been shelved because I realized 100 pages in that I didn’t do enough to create the world to make the plot feel plausible. It’s definitely a fine balance! I would say research till you feel right–it’s a form of incubation that may completely boost your creativity when your story is ready to pour out.
Actually I didn’t know she had those…
Yeah I’m not going whole hog wild with the world building. It’s one of those things where I’m focusing in on this sort of microcosm and I’ll be panning out wider to show more of the world as I write more books in the series. But for this particular book, I feel strongly that I need to have it settled exactly what wolves are in my world–their culture, how they behave, where they came from…
I’ve never been a full-fledged wolf fan (I’m more of a big cat person myself), but I always think the werewolf mythology rings truer when it’s based on how REAL wolves would act.
I’ve also enjoyed a couple of quieter werewolf books that were based more on the original ancient legends and not the Hollywood versions. Specifically,
The Wolf Hunt
By These Ten Bones.
I adored both of these books.
Ironically my very first book (you know the one that should be collecting dust somewhere under a bed?) was about big cat shifters… 😉 I shall have to check both of those books out. I’ve not heard of them.