Paul Jessup is the author of Glass Coffin Girls and Open Your Eyes. His newest novel is Werewolves, a tale of urban fantasy illustrated by Allyson Haller. Jessup recently spoke with us about the book and what inspired him to write his own take on the werewolf myth.
What’s the book all about, Paul?
A teenage girl named Alice and her brother Mark get bitten by werewolves one night, and undergo crazy horrific transformations. Alice tries to deal with her new desire for raw meat (she’s a vegetarian) and restraining from the urge to eat her classmates in high school. Her brother Mark finds acceptance with the local werewolf pack, and feels cool and hop for once in his life. Too bad they treat him like hell, since he’s the Omega wolf of the pack.
Werewolf hunters start following them, and Alice searches for a cure that might exist in the labs of Case Western Reserve University. Things go into a fever pitch, violence, explosion. Lots of fun. I won’t ruin it for you, but not every character makes it out alive. It’s a bit horror in the old school sense, a bit body-horror in the Cronenberg sense of the word, and Urban Fantasy all the way.
Why werewolves when vampires and zombies are all the rage?
I don’t know- people say this like this is some sort of new thing. Like out of nowhere the holy trinity of monsters are somehow hot ticket items. I don’t know about you- but when I was a kid I had daydreams about zombies attacking my class and me saving everyone. I read Anne Rice’s dark vampire stories. Played the werewolf and vampire RPGs from White Wolf.
I think these things happen in cycles. And the cycles seem to be a lot closer together than people realize.
Can you remember the first time you became aware of werewolves? Tell me about that first encounter.
When I was a kid my Aunt Darlene used to tell me stories that would scare me senseless. She was only seven years older than I was, so she was more like an older sister than an aunt. One time she told me this grisly story about a boy my age being bitten by a werewolf, and he would hunt around looking for little kids to eat. That story scared me so bad I didn’t sleep that night. I kept swearing I heard him outside of my bedroom window, howling. Prowling. Wanting to eat me.
How have your own experiences influenced your own take on werewolf mythology?
I wanted the werewolf in this book to kind of go outside the grain of most werewolf books and movies. Especially ones dealing with teenage girls (like Ginger Snaps). Most of the time the werewolf symbolizes awakening sexuality and puberty when applied to teenage girls, and almost implying that they’re man eaters, or that they’re preying on men.
I wanted to go a different route. I wanted it to represent the animal that awakens inside all of us- the creature that exists just on the outskirts of our humanity that we could easily become. The wolf, then, is pure freedom from social restraints. Kind of like how the vampires act in The Lost Boys– completely enjoying their brutal immortality.
Can you recommend some werewolf movies and books?
Movies: Ginger Snaps, An American Werewolf in London, The Wolfman, Dog Soldiers and Wolf are all good movies.
Books: The Kitty Norville books by Carrie Vaughn are really good, as well as the Moon Called books by Patricia Briggs. If you like your werewolves with a dash of old school sword and sorcery (and who doesn’t?) Jame Enge’s upcoming The Wolf Age is an excellent take on that.