What inspired the story?
This book originated as a short story that was published in an anthology. Soon after its release readers requested a second book. I was never truly satisfied with the way I had written either story so I decided to dedicate myself to rewriting the tales. The first short story is being expanded into a full-length novel. This will also be the first time we’re taking an intimate look at the shifters and werewolves that live in New Gotham, and exploring some of the challenges they face in a world where monsters and humans are struggling to live together peacefully. The story is mainly inspired by the Boy Who Cried Wolf tale, Peter and the Wolf, and David P. Mannix’s The Fox and the Hound.
All of these tales have touched my heart in one way or another.
I’ve always identified with the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Whenever I hear anyone talk about this story, they always seem to side on the fact that the Boy Who Cried was a villain and a menace to society—he got what he deserved. I think what most people forget is that he was, in fact, a child. I think they forget that the root of that kind of behavior is the very human need to matter. He wanted to matter. He confused that desire with the desire to exert power over others, he choose a destructive way of going about it, and he paid the ultimate price. Honestly, in this tale, I see nothing but victims. No heroes. No villains. Just victims. And that has always bothered me.
Peter and the Wolf was one of those stories I heard as music first. I still play that symphony. There’s something wonderfully thrilling about the way Peter took charge of his destiny even when there were those who doubted him. There is also something wonderfully poignant about a child presenting that kind of strength. It’s easier to accept when a hero charges into battle. It’s harder to deal with the idea that the hero might be a child. So much of what we know of childhood is skewed by our own perceptions and prejudices. To me, Peter and the Wolf is a fantastic exploration of what it means to be brave and how age isn’t a relevant factor when we measure courage.
The Fox and the Hound is a childhood favorite. I was first exposed by the Disney movie, and read the book much later in life. I think I’m one of those people who identifies with animals easier than I do other people. The Fox and the Hound and Call of the Wild (Jack London) were books I started reading around the time I started going through puberty. At the time, I was confused about everything—relationships, school, my breasts. I started the book, and I remember feeling an overwhelming connection to those characters. I understood their world in a way I didn’t understand mine, especially when it came to the inexplicable and almost instantaneous and nearly indestructible bond shared between best friends and kindred spirits. The Fox and Hound is a love story to me, about two soul mates who couldn’t help but care for each other even after it was clear that being true to their nature meant there was no way they could live together as one.
Finally, when I started creating the characters I found myself drawn to the character of the Big Bad Wolf. What does it take for a creature to become the perfect hunter? What happens to a person when they are become more of a legend than a reality? And what kind of wolf eats a person? There seemed to be a lot of the latter, and it is always fascinated me that the very disturbing idea of someone being eaten continuously occurs in tales that are meant for children. I decided I would try my hand at writing such a creature, and I would leave him with all the horrible realities attached to who he was meant to be. Thus, Luca was born.
Who are the characters?
I’ve already spoke a little bit about Luca. The story itself revolves around both Peter, a kitsune, and Luca, a werewolf. When the book begins, Peter has lived a pretty normal life on a farm located on the city’s outskirts. Luca, on the other hand, has lived a demanding and brutal life. He’s an escaped slave on the run from his Master, and his reputation as the scariest werewolf that’s ever lived isn’t helping matters.
Both young men start the book with a shared past, and when they meet again for the first time since they were children it becomes clear that their fates are entwined for the second time. Of course, this is a romance. I’m not sure I can write a story that doesn’t have a little bit of romance in it. However, because of who these characters are and how they express themselves, this book could also probably be shelved as an Urban Fantasy with mild romantic elements. As a note – Peter and Luca are my first couple that aren’t exclusively involved in some kind of BDSM dynamic. They also double as my youngest characters. There could be a BDSM dynamic in the future but not in this first book.
What kind of folklore can readers expect?
As always readers can expect me to bring a little bit of everything. New Gotham’s forest is populated by creatures from various worlds, ethnic backgrounds, and mythological origins. I’ve even found a way to work an Aztec god into the plot. Readers can also expect to see characters from a few other tales like “Jack and Jill” and Aesop’s “The Grasshopper and The Ant.” One of the really cool aspects about writing this book has been crafting my own spin on the “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” nursery rhythm. I had absolute blast building a monster orphanage. Finally, there are also some major influences from Japanese folklore in this book. It was fairly challenging to write because while I lived in Japan I’ve was studying Norse mythology and thus am better suited to writing that. (lol) Let’s just say I had to take a few trips to the bookstore to get this one right. In any case, New Gotham is bigger than ever and I suggest all readers pack their good stake and their flashlight just in case!