Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Building Lycanthropy Lore

For Good to the Last Drop, I decided it was time to expand the universe of Love at First Bite, with the usual next step in the monster guide: werewolves.

When I built the vampire lore for the series, I decided that I wanted my old-school, allergic to crucifixes, with an option for free will thrown in.

When I decided on adding lycanthropy to the mix, I actually thought back to a DragonCon panel by Jim Butcher, where he said that, if you really want to get books on old school monsters, you go into the kid section of the bookstore -- otherwise, you couldn't read five pages without the "adult" books on monsters going into Freud and Jung.

At which point, I'd have my shape shifters be less a matter of virology dictating shape, and more a matter of soul.  Which, considering what I did to vampires, is at least somewhat consistent. Temperament and attitude shapes what the human changes into. After all, if all of the head shrinkers want to make it about Id, Ego, and archetypes, well, hey, I can play with that. The furry form that comes out in the full moon is representative of the dark side of the infected.

It's why, going through the series, I had George Berkeley-- which is pronounced "Barkley," see what I did there? -- a shape shifting Irish wolfhound. He's a nice, easy going fellow, who will rip somebody's head off, if threatened. There's a reason the motto about wolfhounds is "Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked."

From day one, vampirism was transmitted by a blood born virus. The way I had it set up was as a metaphysical virus. Like many viruses that have a symbiotic relationship to their host, the vampire virus helps with the host's continued existence: it aids the food stock's continued survival by increasing the strength and stamina of anyone bitten. Obviously, for the vampire itself, it brings a lot of advantages and disadvantages.

With a werewolf, it's going to suck for a while. A person's dark side becoming manifest as a furry is going to be disruptive for a while. Also, the more violent the dark side, the more difficult it will be to control all the time. The impulse control of the newly bitten werewolf is going to be a bitch and a half, if you'll pardon the expression.

As the vampire's virus constantly needs feeding, as does the were virus. Meaning the infected is going to need fuel. Obviously, a lot of fuel, considering what happens to the body in a standard transformation.

Of course, if a werewolf isn't made because he's bitten by another werewolf, but by a matter of soul, why are werewolves the most common?  Because people are pack animals by nature. And the dark side has to be represented by some variety of predator -- they can't turn into sheep. Even the least of us have a dark side, even if that dark side is a beta or a gamma wolf.

Of course, if I'm going to add weres to my plot, the obvious--truly obvious--move would be to make them henchmen for the vampire.

Now, since I've had some complaints about how "easy" some of the main bad guys were, I decided to build on the threats. Frankly, the villains were "easy" to take out because, well, if they weren't killed in short order, pretty much everyone would be dead. Imagine if any season-long Buffy villain just skipped directly to trying to murder everyone immediately. It would be a really fast, continuous plot that takes place over a few hours or days .... or everyone would have just been dead.

Good to the Last Drop was going to have every element build on top of each other from all of the other books.

  • Honor at Stake had a vampire with his own nest. That's easy enough to supply.
  • Live and Let Bite had minions. Those are easy.
  • Murphy's Law of Vampires ... had a different creature entirely. Slightly different problem. Difficult to reproduce.

Then we pile on the werewolves.

Now, I've had a few reviews state that Marco seems more than human, which has usually been a result of Amanda's vampire bite enhancing his strength and stamina, part of the vampire virus. Some of it has been he's been too stubborn to die. I'm almost afraid some of it bad writing on my part, but I've been told that's not the case by multiple people who don't know me from a hole in the ground.

But either way, I figure I have an easy fix for a difficult conflict-- one that Marco has never tried confronting, but has been around since Honor at Stake.

He's going to get bit.

How would you like to see that dark side?

Anyway, the complete Love at First Bite will be available next Monday when Good to the Last Drop is out.

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