Monday, August 10, 2009


Pic from ~ ~


By Pat Cunningham

In writing paranormals – or SF, or fantasy, or any combination thereof – world-building is essential. What are the rules of your universe, and how do they affect everyday life? There are the usual questions to be answered, like how does the population cope in a world where vampires and werewolves and demons walk the streets, and what to do when you find yourself in love with one, as so often happens in our genre.

Then there’s the really silly stuff, the hey-wait-a-minute questions that tend to hit when you’re bored or it’s late at night or you’re right in the middle of a tense action scene. Yes, I do lie awake at night thinking of these things. Such as:

The police have captured a vampire. The vampire’s not carrying weapons, but he still has his fangs. Would he be considered “armed and dangerous”? Do long, pointy teeth count as a concealed weapon? If he’s caught attacking someone, is that simple assault or assault with a deadly weapon? Plus he’s got that rare but specific medical condition (acute and fatal allergy to sunlight). Is he covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act? If you insist on a daytime trial, or lock him in a cell with a window, are you violating his civil rights? Does he even have rights? Technically he’s dead. The person he used to be is legally deceased. Does he still have to pay taxes? (I wish I could remember the author and the title, but I know someone wrote a sequel to Stephen King’s “’Salem’s Lot,” in which the IRS investigated why an entire town stopped filing their tax returns. Even being undead isn’t enough to get you off the government’s hook.)

Now imagine you’re the poor court-appointed defense attorney assigned to Mr. Fangs, trying to get charges reduced. Let me know how the story turns out.

Do werewolves wear wedding rings? Or watches, or any kind of jewelry? If so, what happens to it when they change form? If a female werewolf wears makeup and shifts, does the makeup stay in her fur? If these are traditional werewolves and only change with the moon, then you’re okay because they can plan ahead. However, I’m seeing a lot more of the shift-at-will variety (I write that kind myself) and these questions aren’t always addressed. Either the wolves need some magic so their clothing appears and disappears depending on their form, or they’ll end up looking pretty silly no matter what shape they’re in.

How do you insult a werewolf? “Bitch” and “son of a bitch” won’t cut it. Those are descriptions, not insults. “Dog” works better because of the servile connotations. Call a were a dog and you’re questioning his wolfhood. Humans are apes, or primates, simians, or anything in the monkey family. A Jane (as in “Tarzan and”) is a female werewolf who runs with human males. It’s the werewolf equivalent of “slut.”
How do vampires, ahem, get it up? Doesn’t that require a heartbeat and a functioning circulatory system? Or maybe they (ahem again) engorge by drinking others’ blood. So there’s your vampire with a massive hard-on and a victim in no shape to help him out. Surely some enterprising madam would catch on and provide facilities for freshly-fed vampires. After all, there’s no chance of the girls getting pregnant or diseased (undead, remember) or even bitten because the john just ate. Just a brief but intense bout of incredible sex, no strings attached. You folks who write erotica, feel free.

While we’re on the subject of the world’s oldest profession, I was watching the History Channel the other night. They had a show about sex in ancient Pompeii, which was rife with brothels, sex shops and prostitution. The top brothel was called the Lupanare, or “House (Den) of the She-Wolves.” I know what I instantly thought of. Anyone else?

There ought to be enough story fodder in there to keep me busy for months. How about you folks? What little everyday bits of trivia exist in your created worlds that could lead to a unique plot? All it takes a little imagination, carefully-applied logic, a bit of boredom and a really twisted mind. And they wonder where writers get their ideas.

Coyote Moon

Blurb ~

It's that time of the month -- the full moon -- when Willy Alvarez's moods go wonky and her dreams fill up with wolves. A time for hungers she doesn't dare fulfill because they lead to violence. She's resigned herself to a manless life, then Cody Gray arrives.

Cody is cute, funny, charming, and a werecoyote. His nose knows what Willy doesn't: she's half werewolf. He's convinced this repressed half-human she-wolf is his perfect mate. Now he just has to convince her. And quick, because her long-lost pack has learned about her existence, and they've come to town to claim her...

COYOTE MOON by Pat Cunningham at ~ ~ NOW full-moon rising on Siren-BookStrand’s bestseller list.