About today’s guest: Lori Handeland
Lori Handeland has written over forty novels, novellas and short stories in several genres—historical, contemporary, series and paranormal romance, as well as urban fantasy—for such publishers as: Dorchester, Kensington, Harlequin, St. Martin’s Press, Harper-Collins and Simon and Schuster.
She is a New York Times, USA Today, Waldenbooks and Bookscan Bestselling Author and the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.
Or at least one in every culture. Did you know that every culture has a shapeshifter legend, which is what makes it so fun and fascinating for me to mine them all for my books? I like to twist and turn actual legends, combine them with others, and add a little of my own imagination to come up with a villain, or sometimes a hero or heroine.
For instance, in Hunter’s Moon, the second book in my Nightcreature series, I used the Ojibwe legend of the Weendigo—a shapeshifter with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. The more it eats, the larger it becomes and the more it needs to eat.
In Dark Moon I borrowed the Ojibwe legend of the Witchie Wolves. The legend states that a spirit animal–half wolf/half man protects the graves of Ojibwe warriors from desecration.
When I moved the series to New Orleans I studied the legends of the people there—the French, the Spanish, the Cajun and the Africans.
In Crescent Moon, I made use of the French legend of the loup-garou, twisting it a bit to fit into the Cajun tradition found all over New Orleans. In my legend a loup-garou is cursed not bitten, which creates some interesting issues.
In the next book, Midnight Moon, due to the devastation in New Orleans after Katrina, I moved the setting to Haiti and made use of the rich legends of voodoo. The Haitians tell tales of the egbo, a leopard society from deepest Africa, which was used to keep the slaves in line by actually turning into leopards on occasion
For Rising Moon, the final book in the New Orleans/voodoo trilogy, I investigated the voodoo legend of the lougaro, a shape-shifting sorcerer, who can become anything he desires.
The final two books in the Nightcreature series were set in the mountains of Georgia. In the first, Hidden Moon, the heroine must deal with strange animals haunting her town, which oddly enough show up along with a band of Gypsies. The Rom have a legend of the strigoi de lup, or Romanian sorcerer. Usually a pretty young woman in a white dress, she is said to lead the wolves. In some legends she does this by becoming one beneath the light of the moon. She protects her identity by killing anyone who sees her in that form and talks about it.
For Thunder Moon, I studied the Cherokee Legend of the Kalanu Ahyeli’-ski or the Raven Mocker. The Raven Mocker robs the dying of life. Flying through the night with arms outstretched trailing sparks, the raven mocker announces its approach with a horrible shriek. The Raven Mocker eats the victim’s heart, stealing whatever days the person had left on the Earth.
Because I learned so much about shape-shifters while writing the Nightcreature Novels, I had no problem continuing the fun in my new Urban Fantasy series, The Phoenix Chronicles.
In the first book, ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY (November 2008) we meet Sawyer, a Navajo skinwalker. Skinwalkers are both witch and shape-shifter, one of the most powerful beings in Navajo lore.
We also meet Jimmy Sanducci, a dhampir—half vampire, half human, able to “feel” vampires and possessing the uncanny ability to kill them. The dhampir is a Gypsy legend.
I had so much fun adding beserkers—Norse shifters-sometimes bears, sometimes wolves, Budas—hyena shifters and so on to ANY GIVE DOOMSDAY, that when it came time to write the second novel, DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT (available April 28, 2009) I kept it up.
In DCW you’ll meet the Nay’i, another Navajo spirit—a witch who controls fire, smoke and lightning—as well as many of the characters from the first novel. The heroine, Liz Phoenix, a psychic ex-cop who is trying to stop Doomsday—the end of the world—from happening on her watch, with the help of the two men in her life—Sawyer and Jimmy.
There are some great books that explore all these legends and you can find a list on my website under the “resources” tab at the bottom of the home page.
Tell me, do you prefer your supernatural legends to be completely made up or based in fact? What draws you to shape-shifter books? What is it that you love about them?
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