I thought I’d talk a little bit about how my werewolf universe came to be in my manuscript, CRY WOLF. I’m going to be changing this title, but it’s the working title for now.
I fully admit I picked paranormal romance because originally I was going to publish this as a serialized story to Kindle Vella. I looked at what sells and trending categories on Vella and paranormal romance sells. Considering I’d struggled to complete manuscripts in the grimdark fantasy and horror genres I’d dabbled in previously, I thought, why not. Because I like to be difficult, I decided to make it a romance between queer guys. I am queer and even though straight romance sells better I want to see more queer romance; besides, it’s more fun to write.
Paranormal romance usually involves supernatural beings like vampires, witches and werewolves. Vampires are so popular, even getting their own mainstream soapy TV shows on the CW and bestselling movies. But werewolves don’t get enough love, so I picked werewolves. I am a big fan of forbidden love as a trope, so I made my romantic leads a werewolf and a human.
Because I’m a pantser, and I wanted to make my werewolves fresh and unrecognizable from pop culture or any tabletop gaming systems, I made up my werewolf mythology as I went along.
In my universe, there are all kinds of creatures – werewolves, vampires, witches, demons. Creatures came to being in ancient Europe when the early church was experimenting with demon possession. Eventually demon DNA mixed with human DNA and the first creatures were created. These creatures branched off into werewolves and vampires and et cetera. Witches have the most powerful source of magic but other creatures can do limited magic.
This brings up the problem of halfbreeds. When werewolves breed with humans they produce a halfbreed werewolf. This becomes a thing later on in my story and attracts the interest of the FBI, which enters into a covenant with the werewolf clans. In my story werewolves operate in a clan structure, similar to indigenous tribes, and they have their own jurisdiction. They don’t exactly shout about their presence but the U.S. government officially recognizes them even though most humans think they are just a myth.
I decided to portray the werewolves similar to dissociative identity disorder; not an exact replica, but similar. When Mal, my main character (MC) shifts into wolf form, he takes on a different name, Etienne, and has a different personality. He is a wolf with some abilities that wolves in the wild don’t possess. Mal doesn’t remember what happens to him when he’s Etienne and doesn’t have any control over Etienne, but their consciousnesses are still linked even though they can’t directly talk to each other. They more convey communication through emotions.
When werewolves mate, they mark someone as their mate. This can be conscious or subconscious as long as there is a strong desire on the part of the people involved. Mates can be polyamorous or exclusive although most mate for life. Creatures can smell desire thanks to a finely tuned ability to detect pheromones.
I’m sure the number one question I will get asked is why with four queer guys with sexual tension, did I not make them polyamorous?
I thought about a Mal/Noah/Eamon story for a time, in fact. But I decided this was too easy. I wanted to show queerplatonic, lovers-to-friends relationships, which you see rarely in fiction. Not every queer person is polyamorous. Polyamory needs more attention in fiction too, but I decided lovers-to-friends would provide more drama. Mal probably would have been okay with it but Noah wanted to be monogamous. He struggles with jealousy and insecurity and has a possessive personality. He wanted Mal all to himself.
Mates then can choose to get married. Divorces are frowned upon and will get you a lot of judgment but they happen; they’re more common among human-werewolf pairings. Marriages are usually arranged within the clan to keep their secrets and keep everyone in line. But romantic relationships happen. When a human and a werewolf want to get married, they need to get the permission of the werewolf council.
Leadership in my werewolf clan is run by the alpha, Donovan, who is also a father figure to Mal, whose parents died when he was young. But it is also a democracy, with a council that makes decisions. A halfbreed council meets when the clan needs impartiality, such as appointing defense attorneys for lone wolves who have mental health holds. The werewolf clans run a mental health institution for wayward wolves.
Werewolves can shift at the full moon or any time they wish, but they need rituals and spells to be able to shift. The clan has a tradition of a hunt and celebration at the full moon, when creatures also swear the oath if they wish. Halfbreeds cannot swear the oath, so that’s why they can be impartial members of their own council.
I think that about covers the main highlights without giving too many spoilers. I could go on about my werewolves for hours; I only think about them all day, every day after all.