Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Werewolf stories

It must be nearing Halloween, 'cause I've been thinking about one of my old, old characters. (From back in college, which was quite a while ago now.) This was back when essentially all of my characters were author-inserts - though if we're being honest, that's still kind of true - so he's about a sixteen or seventeen year old werewolf.

I'd been reading a lot of vampire fiction at the time, and decided to cast myself as a werewolf as a sort of protest. (Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking that way; at that point, every single werewolf book on the market had some version of "does for werewolves what Anne Rice did for vampires" on the cover.) This was before that sort of dark fantasy really hit the mainstream; nowadays there are quite a number of people writing the kinds of stories that I wanted to be writing back then.

I don't have a copy of the first story I wrote about him. This is not, from a strictly literary perspective, any great loss. The thinking behind the story is (at least for me) more interesting than the story itself was. I was basically comparing werewolves and vampires, and wondering why vampires seemed so much more popular. (That, again, is a lot less true now than it was back then.)

Looking at Dracula, I saw that vampires could change shape - into wolves, at that; also bats and mist. They could control the weather, and control animals, and and were enormously strong and fast. They could go out in daylight, too: they wouldn't have any powers, but they wouldn't be harmed, either. And the basic fascination with vampires seemed, to my mind, to be intimately tied up with their fundamentally predatory nature.

On that basis, there wasn't any obvious reason why a werewolf couldn't be equally compelling. Like vampires, they could only be killed in particular ways. (I hadn't yet learned that the vulnerability to silver was essentially a recent invention for movie-werewolves.) They were strong and fast and predatory; they didn't have as many shapeshifting options - wolves and wolfmen, usually - but they could probably do them any time they pleased; and if the vampires could control animals and weather, then the werewolves almost certainly could, too. The big mark against werewolves, as I saw it, was that Hollywood insisted on treating them like indestructible, furry serial killers - which was actually a pretty bland treatment of an idea which had a lot more potential.

I should also add that all of this was before White Wolf came out with Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse.

The character went through several different incarnations after that, but that was where he started. There's no real point to this, except that it's what I happened to be thinking about just now.

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