"Alpha tells the tale of the tempestuous alliance between humans and werewolves fighting to survive after the zombie apocalypse has come to Manhattan. Romance is no fun without some obstacles to overcome, and Janey and Seamus--the leaders of the human resistance and the werewolf pack--have plenty of them in their way, including their groups' mutual distrust, not to mention zombie attacks."
by Molly Maddox
There’s something about it. Fur, talons, teeth, the surge of hunting hormones through impossibly strong flesh. Obviously, we’ve all thought about what it would be like to have a beastly lover, insatiable, savage, and driven by the basest instincts, but still enfolded in the supple form of humanity, and as writers our beasts are as individual as we are.
My first encounter with werewolf lit was Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate, which, thereafter, was promptly removed from the school library due to “unseemly content.” I immediately bought my own copy. The sensual, liberated world of Klause’s teengaged loup garou drew me in, made me want more. I flipped the pages of dozens like it, and unlike it.
Wolves easily slot into paranormal romance for two reasons. Foremost, wolves are seen as loyal mates. Wolves in the romance genre mate and traditional roles of alpha-male and –female are established. In reality, the male and female alphas of a wolf pack can be mates or nonsexual close relatives, like brother and sister, but the idea of an eternally mated pair is an admittedly strong draw that I’m sure none of us can argue with.
Secondly, in many cultures, wolves are the guards between man’s world and the spirit world, and abound in mythology: Odin is prophesied to be murdered by half-wolf Fenrir at Ragnorak, for example, and Norse berzerkers were known for wearing wolf pelts to channel the animal’s viciousness in battle. And as a nerd, I can’t fail to mention the White Wolf interpretation, in which werewolves are warriors in service of the earth itself, charged with the defeat of the Wyrm.
Furthermore, lycanthropy isn’t the curse it was considered in Lon Chaney Jr.’s day. Werewolves are generally born that way, and not “cursed,” but “gifted,” which can be seen as a modern-day reconciliation with humanity’s place in the natural world, as well as a comfort with the sexual liberation a beast-side allows us. When dealing with a pair in paranormal romance, only one is usually the werewolf. It creates conflict, angst, and lots of sexy, fun scenes of misunderstanding, of course, but also illuminates the qualities outlined above.
When creating my wolfpeople, I first looked at the root of the myth. Usually, it was magic, spell, curse. I decided to take that and twist it. I always loved alternative histories of the 21st century, so I developed that the wolfperson genes—as well as other, more sinister mutations—popped up shortly after World War II. Additionally, my werewolves weren’t were-anything: they couldn’t transform between worlds, but were stuck in their furry, hulking bodies. I could say all types of noble things about that choice—the intimation of early werewolf films, Lon Chaney, Jr.’s role in The Wolf Man in particular, about racial stereotypes and roles—but truly, that just came from my love of big, hairy men.
My leading male is a wolfman with a slicked quiff, a beer belly, and a patient, intelligent sense of violence. His lover, our protagonist, is a petite, uncertain, and boldly loyal human scootergirl named Janey. I like shoving inappropriate roles into certain situations—these nerdy misfits run contrasting rebel groups in post-apocalyptic New York—and honestly every writer can tell you about the power of their own characters. Their quirks and complexes took over. They delight in BDSM, drinking beer, and chatting about old comics. Janey loves Sea’s bulk, his savagery, and Sea loves Janey’s pointed, and prurient, submission.
Submission and domination is a recurring theme.
Alpha dogs demand obedience from betas and omegas, keeping them in line with force if necessary, and the same is true of Seamus. In werewolf fiction, the order of the pack, the cohesion of the larger family unit, reflects our own wants for a stable society. Seamus battles forces from within his group that want to usurp him and turn the world he’s worked hard for into chaos; Janey, at the same time, fights with the bias of her own people to work together with the wolfpeople to survive.
From the get-go, it was clear to me that the werewolf mythologies were as varied as the writers creating them, and I can’t wait to see the diversity brought by the writers to come.
PVN: Thanksfor stopping by, Molly. Alpha sounds like a fun, wicked book!
What do you readers think?