I’m delighted to host author Andrea Cremer, as part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book, Bloodrose (book 3 of her supernatural YA fantasy series which began with Nightshade and Wolfsbane – all available from Atom).
I asked Andrea this question: There are a lot of young adult novels out there these days – how do you write a paranormal book that stands out in the crowd? – this post is her response. Thanks for guesting with FableCroft, Andrea!
A common response to Nightshade from readers is the comment that it’s one of his or her favorite werewolf books. As much as I understand where that idea comes from, I think it’s time for me to take and stand and say Nightshade and Wolfsbane are not werewolf books. Here’s what I mean:
I’ve lived long in the realm of paranormal/fantasy proudly bearing my badge of vampire girl. That’s right; I came on board as a fan of vamps, not werewolves. I was Team Edward for all four books of Twilight. I prefer Bill and Eric to Sam in True Blood. But before you start throwing tomatoes, let me tell you why.
Friends who knew I was a vampire girl presumed that meant I love ALL forms of paranormal, so they’d push werewolves at me enthusiastically. I wasn’t interested, and I couldn’t figure out why. After all they were fierce, strong, magical – all things I liked. So what was the problem? And then it hit me – I didn’t like werewolves because I love wolves.
That’s right – I’m a wolf girl, but a real wolf girl. I grew up so far north in Wisconsin that it’s practically Canada. Wolves roamed the forests of my homeland. I also loved National Geographic television specials even more than cartoons. So by age 9 I could rattle off biological and ecological info like a pro. Wolves to me were beautiful, intelligent, social, and graceful.
Werewolves seemed to be none of these things. The werewolves I’d encountered on page and screen were hideous – half man/half beast, usually ugly, often unintelligent, driven only by rage or bloodlust.
And worst of all: they didn’t want to be wolves. Lycanthropy occurs as a curse, or a disease. The endgoal of most werewolf tales was to kill the wolf or free the affected person of the wolf curse.
I couldn’t come to grips with that idea. If someone asked me – hey wanna turn into a wolf? I’d say, “Heck, yeah!” Wouldn’t you rather be a wolf? From what I know of wolves, the answer is indisputably YES.
Nightshade’s Guardians are my way of coming to terms with my love of wolves and my trouble with classic werewolf tales. Calla – the alpha female who narrates Nightshade – is powerful and revels in her life as a wolf.
Her troubles arise not from her ability to shift, but from the ways in which her masters try to limit her power, to restrain her freedoms.
Pack relationships offered a wonderful way to explore a world of friendship, servitude, loyalty, and betrayal. While Nightshade is about Calla’s journey, it’s also the story of her pack. The other wolves in the book play key roles throughout the trilogy. Wolves offered a wonderful framework around which to explore relationships, love, fear, and rivalry.
Wolves carry a magic and mystery to me that captured my heart and hasn’t let go. It was just a matter of finding my own way to tell their story and I believe that staying true to those feelings and letting them lead me was the key to creating a different kind of paranormal tale, one that revisits traditional mythologies, making them new again.
Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She went to school until there wasn’t any more school to go to, ending up with a Ph.D. in early modern history – a reflection of her fascination with witchcraft and warfare. She currently lives in Minnesota with her husband, two dogs and a parakeet.