I have always had a thing for shifters and those of similar persuasion. I clearly recall being a child (And I may date myself terribly with this but so what?) sitting in front of the TV eagerly anticipating watching Dr. Shock`s Mad Theater, which aired in the Philadelphia area from 1968 through the 70`s. Dr. Shock showed tons of B horror movies, and I was simultaneously terrified and engrossed in each old black-and-white flick presented to me. It was while watching Dr. Shock that I first saw Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man.
Sure, there were scores of other horror movie classic monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but there was something about The Wolf Man that spoke to me. I`m sure it was Chaney`s wonderful performance as the tortured Larry Talbot that grabbed my young heart and mind so strongly.
Over the years I`ve grown less afraid of were-folk, and have read about shifters of various kinds. There are as many breeds of shapeshifter as there are fans that read the
enormously popular genre. Today we have wolves, bruins, big cats, seals (Selkies), and every animal under the sun, it seems. Nine times out of ten the shifters are sexy men or women who then turn into powerful, attractive, sexual animals. I thought I wanted to do something just a wee bit different with An Erie Halloween.
Enter Templeton Reed, a man who lives and works in a hidden community of magical folks along the shores of Lake Erie. Templeton isn`t proud of his beastly other side and goes to enormous lengths to never shift. Being one of a few rare musteloidea shifters in the United States, Templeton isn`t a gorgeous lycan, or a sexy, sleek jaguar, or even a big, loveable bruin shifter. Templeton is a mild-mannered office worker that tries his best to avoid trouble, lest his inner polecat comes to the surface.
Yes, my leading man in An Erie Halloween is a skunk shifter. How much fun is that?! I certainly put Templeton through some harrowing adventures in his debut novella! But, as much as I have tormented my favorite striped shifter, I have also given him a hunk of lycan man that wants to get to know this feisty little scrapper much better. Let`s just say that Templeton and Mikel Lupei, the alpha of the Lake Erie pack, get along quite well despite a few odor related shifting problems.
Much like Larry Talbot, Templeton is cursed with changing into something he is ashamed of. Fortunately skunks don`t prowl the moors looking for human prey as many incarnations of werewolves do. But they do have their own offensive defense system that puts them on the outside looking in, even among their own kind. Thankfully, my courageous- if slightly near-sighted- hero ends up in a better place then poor Lon Chaney Jr. did at the end of The Wolf Man.
Did you have a favorite horror movie monster as a child? I`d love to hear about who scared the black-and-white bejeebers out of you when you were a kid!
How about an excerpt from An Erie Halloween?
As I walked, I rolled odd change around inside my coat pockets. The streets were busy as last minute shoppers ran to get their candy and costumes for the big night tomorrow. Head down and mind running a mile a minute, I never saw the brick wall disguised as a man I ran into. Face into the wind, I never smelled him either. The amber eyes and brindle hair were all that stopped me from either screaming or shifting. Mikel pulled me into a small bookstore. I went along because I really had no choice, but once inside the quaint bookery, I jerked my arm from his grasp. Several patrons glanced at us. Mikel muscled me into a row holding non-fiction and historical. He grabbed a book and opened it, his sharp gaze flitting between me and a fascinating how-to grow-your-own-beets book.
“Is there a reason you abducted me from the street?” I asked, moving back slightly when his big body pressed closer to allow a woman to pass behind him. His proximity was beyond distressing. It was arousing. Now that he had me cornered, there was no getting away from the heady scent that he exuded: Part sin, part warm fur, part earthy pine, wholly distracting.
“I've been trying to contact you for days. Why didn't you return my calls?” he whispered, keeping his big chest plastered to my left arm. My spine was firmly against a book shelf.
“There are several reasons,” I replied trying to sound snooty but sounding meagerly twitterpated.” One is that our classes don't mix. . .”
“That's a paltry reason, Templeton,” Mikel said gruffly, snapping his beet book closed.
“Well, it may be for you, but when one's boss tells one to keep his distance and – hey!” I grabbed for my glasses when he plucked them off the bridge of my nose. Folding my arms over my pea coat, I glowered at the oaf. There would be no leaping up and down. Those days ended when I left high school. The touch of his fingers on my chin brought out an age-old response. I jerked back hard. The bookcase behind me wobbled dangerously. Mikel dropped his book to steady the shelving unit. My heart was trying to explode through my chest like an alien baby. The lycan inhaled several times then gave me a dark look.
“Calm yourself, Templeton, your odor is growing stronger.”
“Sorry, it's just this is all too – too much,” I gasped, working to calm myself before the tingling at the base of my spine began. The bells over the front door tinkled melodiously. Soft conversation bounced off the spines of books. Mikel tipped my head back and kissed me. Right there in the middle of the non-fiction. His lips were soft. Sinfully soft. It took my lashes a moment after his mouth left mine to flutter upward. Squinting skyward, I tried to read his face but it was a blur. My glasses were placed back onto my face, albeit crookedly, and then I could see the glow of golden eyes. Oh my . . .
If you`re interested in grabbing a copy of An Erie Halloween, you can find it on the Torquere Press site:
Yours in love and laughter,
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