Today I'm really happy to be able to spotlight the first anthology from Hic Dragones, a creative writing, literature, and film organisation based up the road in Manchester, UK. I met the founder, Hannah Kate, at the She-Wolf conference a couple of years ago, and am really looking forward to seeing how the company develops. Their first anthology, WOLF GIRLS, is obviously centred on a subject close to my heart ^_^ I'm glad to welcome Jeanette Greaves here today to talk about her contribution, THE CAMERON GIRLS.
A werewolf has power, not just physical power, but the power that comes from throwing off the mantle of humanity and indulging in savage, animal behaviour. That kind of show of power has traditionally been the preserve of men. Stories of male shapeshifters cast them as something to be feared or even respected. Traditional stories of female shapeshifters cast them as witches, as deceivers and tricksters, to be discovered and punished in the cold light of day, when they are found skulking in their room, trying desperately to hide an injury sustained whilst in their other form. That never really seemed fair to me, and when I started to write about werewolves, my first character, Diana, was a strong and fearless young woman who was proud of her ability and gloried in the change. I write about male and female werewolves, young and old, rich and poor, good and bad, but the female characters are as strong as the male ones.
Tina and Toni, the main characters in The Cameron Girls, were late to the party. Most of my stories are about Diana, her mates Mark, Andy, Donna and John, and their kids and grandkids. Toni only arrived two or three years ago, fully formed, an unhappy kid staring into a fridge, angry with her life and frustrated by her lack of power. Tina turned up a couple of days later, a happier soul, a second child who trusted her big sister to make everything better, and took life pretty much as she found it. They didn't fit into anything novel length at that time, so I sat down with them and waited for them to tell me about the most important day of their lives. The story in the Wolf-Girls anthology is that tale. It wasn't hard to write, it fell straight from the world where the werewolves live and onto the page. Since then, it rattled about, homeless, for some time, and when I saw a call for submissions for an anthology about female werewolves, I hoped that I'd found a place where my girls could tell their tale. I submitted two stories, The Queen of Wolf Mountain is set in the same universe, at about the same time, but the heroine of that tale grew up in a werewolf pack and never had cause to doubt her strength or her power. The Cameron girls didn't have that chance. I'd spent so much time with my werewolf packs that I'd never really looked at the world beyond them, or examined what kind of attitudes would spring up in a world where suddenly werewolves were present, successful, and very, very public. My werewolves are shapeshifters, in theory they are only limited by the constraints of biology and mass, but in practise, like all of us, they are limited by their imagination and their belief in themselves. Most of them can change into wolf form, a select few are capable of more. What would happen to young werewolves when the very people who were supposed to care for them reacted with fear, envy and hatred? Who would come forward to protect them, and how would they feel about those who let them down?
I've ended up very proud of Toni and Tina; the tale of the girls who found themselves unwanted became my first published werewolf story, and I love the idea that they aren't just in my head now, they're out there, being read about and thought about by people I've never met. If you would like to meet them too, they're in the pages of Wolf-Girls, Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, edited by Hannah Kate and available via www.hic-dragones.co.uk
For more information about my werewolves, check out my blog or follow them on Facebook.