On Letting Your Characters Fail
Thanks, Kathy, for making room for me on the sofa. Love the cat. Heeeere, kitty, kitty! Why’s he running?
Writers read. In a lot of cases, it’s how we end up making the transition from reader to writer. We read, and read, and read. And ask questions.
It’s usually the questions that are the kicker.
For me, what started Bite Me Tender was a question, just a small one, that popped into my head after reading a number of different urban fantasies with werewolves. And people being turned into werewolves. Okay, an American Werewolf in London might have had something to do with it, too. (It was Halloween. And I was burnt out on vampires.)
I finished up with one, small, almost completely insignificant question: Why do they always turn into werewolves after they’ve been bitten?
Now, maybe I’ve missed a few where the transition wasn’t perfect, but I’ve read a lot of these books and haven’t found one that looked at that idea. I mean, you sit next to someone with a cold, you don’t automatically get sick. The same with the chicken pox. As a former paramedic, myself and every one of my coworkers had the stats about AIDS and Hepatitis transmission burned into our brains.
None of them are a hundred percent.
So why is infection by werewolf different? I suppose you could just throw a bunch of handwavium in there and say, “It’s magic! You don’t need to know why!”. But I’m a scientist by nature, nurture, and training. I do need to know why. And, while I may be constantly working to upgrade my author skills, my bullshit meter is in fine form and it won’t let me leave a question like that alone.
So that’s where Bite Me Tender came from. What if it didn’t work the first time?
And, because I’m a cranky old bat who thinks it’s more interesting if I torment my characters–What if it didn’t work repeatedly? And if the characters really wanted it to work? What if one of them was another paranormal, a witch, with his own problems and issues? Would that affect it?
And then I made them doubt themselves. I mean, who wouldn’t, in this situation?
You can see how these darn things snowball.
He(Levi) tried not to think about Tuesday night as he dressed, tried not to look at the tracery of scars on Glyn’s back and arms. He knew there were others hidden beneath the sunny yellow sheets—some silver, some pink, some still a painful-looking red, taunting him with his failure. Like he wasn’t wolf enough to turn Glyn. Or like Glyn was too much witch for him to turn. It made him wonder uneasily if all his previous successes had been nothing more than luck and if he was just torturing Glyn for no good reason.
But Glyn swore it was possible and that being made into a werewolf would make his power work properly, or at least fix it so he didn’t have what he called his “fucked-up episodes.” And there wasn’t much Glyn could ask of him that he wouldn’t do, though this was coming close to his limits. A year’s worth of failures. And it was Glyn who paid the price for it, though he’d never once said a word in recrimination.
I’d feel bad for Levi, except it was too much fun putting him through the wringer. And it’s going to happen again in the next one! *rubs hands gleefully*
You can check out other bits and pieces of the story at my blog: thebluntinstrument.wordpress.com. There’s a category for Bite Me Tender on the side. Or just go through the Tuesday Tickles, bearing in mind that these excerpts are first draft, essentially how they land on the page, and will have probably changed somewhat in the process. Still, I don’t know about anybody else, but I kind of enjoy seeing how things change from the original to the published copy. You can also find a link on my blog to my free contemporary novelette Sign of Spring.
And how about that cover? Did April Martinez (the cover artist) not peg my witch perfectly? Holy cow!
Title: Bite Me Tender by Kate Lowell
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, M/M, Romance
Levi is a werewolf. His boyfriend, and the love of his life, is a witch. After living together for three years, they decided to commit to each other and change Glyn into a werewolf. Levi hoped the pack would accept Glyn more readily as a wolf. Glyn hoped it would eliminate his erratic magic and erase the OCD it caused. One year later, they’re still trying…
Levi can’t understand why his bite won’t change Glyn and he’s running out of time to figure it out. His pack is being threatened by a larger one, he’s facing dissension in the ranks of his own ruling council and Glyn’s grandmother is poking her witchy nose into their relationship.
Under threat of a violent takeover, the council pushes another potential wolf at Levi, infuriating Glyn and adding weight to Levi’s own doubts. Council machinations divide the two lovers, leaving both men questioning their lives, their love, and what they’re willing to endure for each other.
Full moon is a time of power and change. It could be a disaster, or it could be the key to happily ever after. If they’re strong enough to wrestle their future from its bloody claws.
Ms. Lowell is giving a copy of Bite Me Tender to one lucky commenter. To enter today’s contest:
You must Do TWO of the Following:
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It’s that easy! The winner will be selected using random.org. Ms. Lowell will e-mail one lucky winner a copy of Bite Me Tender in their preferred format. The winner will be posted HERE on Saturday.