Mythologies Used in River
(or lack thereof)
I was graciously offered the opportunity to write a guest post for Books & Things during the River blog tour and given the topic of mythologies used in the novel. That’s easy-peasy, usually, because I’m Mythology Girl. I love falling down the rabbit hole of research and using existing myths in new ways, building a solid foundation for my paranormal work.
Except I didn’t with River.
Nothing in River is based on ancient mythology, faiths, or beliefs. I didn’t even glance at the werewolf Wikipedia page to see what ideas to draw on.
In River, humans aren’t turned into animals; animals are turned into humans. As far as the main character, teen werewolf River, knows, they can’t turn back into the beast—not on the full moon, not ever. Silver doesn’t factor in. They’re simply animals stuck in human bodies.
So with that in mind, the next logical step would’ve been research into wolves, right?
Yeah, I didn’t do that either, at least not when I was writing the book. All the research was done years—even a decade—earlier.
I grew up loving wolves. As a small child, I would dream I turned into one. I’d glimpse them in the corner of my eye in places they couldn’t possibly be. (We’re just going to assume there’s a magical explanation behind this and not a brain tumour causing hallucinations, okay?) Few sounds are as calming to me as howling. And as with anything I had even the slightest interest in, I read up on them over the years and did every wildlife project on them, filing the information away so it was there while writing River later.
These are not “savage” beasts from the movies and stories, stereotypes that have led to them being slaughtered for decades. These are gentle and caring creatures, extremely intelligent, and about as far from the monsters of legends as you can imagine. An excellent place to start when getting to know wolves better is with the work of the Dutchers, Living with Wolves (please pick up their documentaries and support their work).
The one research book I did have was Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.
Not specific to any particular belief-system (animal symbolism can vary from tribe to tribe among First Nations) but more the author’s personal take on animal shamanism, it’s a dictionary of animals and what they represent/can teach humanity. While writing River and its sequel Wolfe, I referred back to that book several times when building the other were characters. It was important to me that the character of River and the other werewolves not only reflect real wolves but that they displayed many of the spiritual aspects associated with them: loyalty, community, strength, compassion, teamwork, devotion.
More than the legends of werewolves—uncontrollable beasts who slaughter livestock and can only be stopped by a silver bullet—it seemed critical to show what a gentle, intelligent creature like a wolf would really think of humans when forced to live among them. (Spoiler Alert: they are not impressed.)
So that was my focus, not on the myths but on this highly misunderstood and misrepresented animal.
Defiant, nocturnal, moody–though River sounds like a typical teenager, she’s anything but. River’s a werewolf.
The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn’t belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn’t know who bit her or why.
But River isn’t as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. And though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.
As if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn’t want wasn’t bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-927966-02-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-927966-01-3
Release Date: August 25 (ebook), September 1 (print)
Buy Direct: http://www.skyladawncameron.com/product/river/
Nook and Kobo coming soon.
For a list of tour spots and to find out more about River—including the first seven chapters free—at http://skyladawncameron.com/river/
Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever.
Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her short attention span. She is also a proud Writer of Unlikable Female Characters™.
Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she writes full time, works as a freelance designer, stabs people with double pointed knitting needles, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own Irish pub, as well as become world dictator.
Visit Skyla’s site at www.skyladawncameron.com
- DVD/Blu-Ray combo of Ginger Snaps
- River poster print
- River tote bag
- wolf charm bookmark
- River postcard
- wolf charm necklace
- Animal Speak pocket guide version by Ted Andrews
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