The Mythology of my Werewolf Universe

Image from Pixabay

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.


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Flash Fiction: Strong Women

Modeled by: Vivian Cove
Photographed by: Denise Ruttan

This was a story that got rejected, but I didn’t feel like looking at it again so I’m self publishing it on my blog. Enjoy!

“Strong Women”

By Denise Ruttan

Suzi did not think of herself as a strong woman.

When people talked about strong women, she didn’t know what they meant. Was that like calling a woman bossy, or feisty, because she expressed an opinion? Suzi didn’t express her opinions often, unless it was to say that she found it gloomy when it rained. She didn’t like confrontation. She hated to argue. She was, in fact, what they used to call “mousy,” back in the old days. She thought of herself as a pushover. Maybe she really was “petite” and “feminine.” That was what her mother called her. Those words did not sound strong.

She had, in fact, just left her house, and she was going for a walk to let off some steam. It was dark out, but not quite pitch black; it was that time of twilight when the light almost seemed blue and fragile. The clouds amassed in the sky, and it smelled like it was going to rain. Her husband, Brad, was a mean drunk. He had just wrapped up his latest tirade, crunching his fifth can of Natty Ice in his fist and glaring at her. “You’ll never be a registered nurse,” he said, his eyes glowering. “You’re not even smart. You never graduated high school. What are you doing up late studying, when you should be cleaning the house? Look at what a mess this place is. I don’t have the time to do it. I’m the one who should be providing for our family.”

She didn’t have the heart to tell him, “But you’re not.” She would have done so, if she was a strong woman, maybe. She would have told him that he couldn’t hold down a job because of his drinking problem. She would have told him about the bills that kept piling up on the kitchen table. She would have told him that they could have more than beans and rice, if he could stay sober at work. She would have told him that she would gladly stay home and clean, if he could hold down a job. But all those things would have really made him mad, so she held her tongue. She said, “You’re right, Brad. I was stupid to ever think about it.”

“That’s right, woman,” he’d said, and that’s when she’d grabbed her coat and hat and umbrella, and stormed out the door, slamming it behind her as he hollered after her to get him more beer. She ignored him. But strong women would not just go for a walk to escape the fight. Strong women would leave a man like Brad.

Suzi didn’t know how she was feeling. She thought she was angry, but she was too tired for rage. Anger was for strong women. She didn’t have the strength to keep it simmering. Anger ate her from the inside out, hollowed out her core, frayed her edges. She was, in truth, exhausted. Her bones were tired. She didn’t know what she was doing either, going back to school to become a registered nurse. She first had to get her GED, so that was why she was studying. Then she would have to go to college for four years. She was 40. She worked as a janitor, cleaning the hallways of the hospital where she dreamed bigger dreams than making the floor gleam. She watched the nurses doing their work, rushing from patient to patient with purpose and light in their eyes, drawing blood. She wanted to do that. She wanted to help people.

But maybe it was too late. Maybe it was too late for someone like her. Maybe she wasn’t smart enough.

She sighed, and kept walking. They lived in an apartment complex in a suburb, and in the dim light she saw everyone’s manicured lawns and their houses painted to HOA specifications and heard the sprinklers running. She thought of the families who lived there whom she’d never meet. Maybe the husband was a doctor and the wife was a lawyer and because they were both busy people they made sure to sit down with their two children every night for supper. She wondered what it was like to fulfill your dreams.

She kept walking. There was nobody on the road. It was strangely quiet. She could not even hear birds or the wind. The sky did look threatening, though. And she really did not like rain. But she did not want to go back to Brad yet. The thought filled her with dread. She couldn’t, either, just walk away, go to a shelter, like some women did. She couldn’t do that. She needed money. She relied on Brad. He really wasn’t that bad of a guy, actually. He never hit her. He was not violent. He was just an alcoholic with no ambition who put her down all the time. That was what guys were like, wasn’t it? That was what her father was like.

Lost in thought, she crossed the street at a crosswalk. She didn’t even look both ways. She didn’t see the car coming. Suddenly, she heard the whine of insects buzzing. Her eyes filmed over with mist and midnight. She held her hand in front of her face and it became a stranger’s hand, translucent in the crepuscular light.

The car kept going. It never stopped. Maybe the driver was drunk. Maybe the driver just didn’t care.

No one emerged from their beautiful middle-class houses to help Suzi. But she stood up. Her bones and the sinews of her muscles stretched with heat. She wiggled her fingers and toes. She was not hurt. Miraculously, she was not hurt, other than a shot of pain in her neck.

She curled her hand into a fist. Her heart pumped blood through her veins. Iron blood. Her eyes blazed fire. She straightened her shoulders and stood up tall. Her skin felt hard. No longer soft flesh, feminine curves.

She was still Suzi.

But now she understood strength.

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