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February 20th, 2007

4:39 PM

The Amazing Shapeshifting Heroes


I sometimes wonder how the romance genre can come up with what it considers a sexy kind of hero.

Vampires I can understand since Bram Stoker portrayed Count Dracula as a seductive creature who happens to have a taste for blood. Of course, then Anne Rice gave birth to a few emo vampires and the rest, as people would say, is history.

Werewolves take some getting used to on my part since I normally associate them with An American Werewolf In London as per the clip below (warning: may be too scary for some people, contains rear nudity):

Some authors find ways to get around the whole flesh-tearing snout-growing thing. Susan Krinard's werewolves, for example, change into wolf form with only some slight fuzzy blurring taking place during the transformation. Other authors merely say the heroes change into wolf form and that's it. But as someone who is too fond of B-grade horror movies for her own good, I generally don't find werewolves sexy. I'm surprised that there are no werebear heroes though, since the whole "strapping, muscular, hirsute" kind of hunk seems more bear-like (heck, gay guys call these hunks "bears") than wolf-like to me. Maybe wolves look more dramatic compared to bears since wolves can run swiftly through the woods while bears are mistakenly characterized in the media as clumsy oafs trampling through the undergrowth. Or maybe it's the whole "wolves mate only once" thing that make werewolves a romantic figure in romance. At any rate, the only romance I've read that addresses the changing in all its not-so-pretty glory is Nathalie Gray's Feral, with one particular scene really skirting towards furry porn territory.

Now, I can understand why some animals are chosen to be the alternate forms of our shape-shifting heroes. Wolves have long been considered as symbols of untamed wildness and all that. We don't have heroes who are were-turtle, were-rabbit, were-hog, were-platypus, and were-bullfrogs for obvious reasons. (Then again, one cannot be sure since there is a book out there featuring a were-Orca whale hero.) But I am puzzled by what seems to be the latest trend: were-dragons.

What is it with dragons that can be considered romantic, edgy, or sexy? I don't get it. Dragons in Chinese and Indonesian mythology are long serpentine creatures with sly faces. Dragons in European mythology usually end up dead at the hands of knights or are depicted as savage devourers of innocent maidens. How did we go from there to sexy? I'm sure I will come across some stories that may get me to enjoy the fantasy of a dragon being the new sex symbol, but at the time of writing, I am having a hard time imagining the idea of a dragon in this manner. I am not saying that I cannot and will not accept this fantasy - it depends on how the author sells me the fantasy. However, I am curious as to who it is that first came up with the idea of a dragon being a sex symbol.

What's next? Here is what I'd love to see in future were-romances:

  • Were-octopus. Just imagine, the hero will have tentacles and a big penis. Oh, and suction pads.
  • Were-tortoise. This hero doesn't need to waste money running away to sulk in America in any big misunderstanding scenario. He can just retreat into his shell for the next three hundred years until the heroine is reincarnated again.
  • Were-Tyrannosaurus rex. Nothing beats a grand climax where the hero destroys a few city in his mission to rescue the heroine.
  • Were-skunk. When our hero takes off all his clothes and aims his rear end at the enemy, it all makes sense.
  • Were-Paramecium. Just imagine: the hero changes, splits into two, both of them change back to human form, and voila! Instant threesome! The hero can split a few times and produces sixteen same heroes who think, speak, and behave the same way for sequel purposes. Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon will never be accused of being one-note authors if they introduce such heroes in their stories.
16 comment(s).

Posted by Shiloh Walker:

werecockroaches... I mean, hey, cockroaches have supposedly been around for millions of years... aren't they due for some love?:P
March 5th, 2007 @ 5:21 AM

Posted by Laura Vivanco:

One of the stories that was posted in response to Paperback Writer's e-book challenge had a half were-rhino, half were-panther hero. It's Stroke It by Cassandra Curtis. There's also a dragon story, The Horse Master by Joely Sue Burkhart.
February 26th, 2007 @ 9:49 PM

Posted by Emily Veinglory:

We are the blorg...
February 26th, 2007 @ 1:59 AM

Posted by Ann(ie):

On Feb 18, I wrote over on Romancing the Blog:

"While I agree to a point, there’s no reason to rewrite a book, based on one person’s opinion, I think it helps going forward when you take into account what worked, overwhelmingly, for your audience and what didn’t. This is based on consensus, of course. If everyone who reads the book says, “I really liked it, except the fact that the hero was a were-clam” then why wouldn’t an author make a note of that? What’s the point of writing a whole series about were-clams if NOBODY likes it? I don’t advocate writing to trends — an author should always write the story of her heart, but she can certainly work to please her readers too.

*Apologies to anyone who is planning a paranormal series about were-clams, no were-clams were injured in the making of this post*"

Mrs G either read that or we're now using a hive mind. You will be assimilated.
February 24th, 2007 @ 12:59 PM

Posted by Roslyn:

According to my dh were-bears are big in Dungeons & Dragons. Yeah, my dh is a were-geek.
February 24th, 2007 @ 4:37 AM

Posted by Yvonne:

Oh Emily! I was married to that guy!
Hmm.... were-wolverine?
February 23rd, 2007 @ 10:19 AM

Posted by Emily Veinglory:

I think my ex-was a were-elephant seal.

You could also look at were-crossbreeds. Like the cross between the were-polar bear and the were-penguin (the were-pear) :)
February 22nd, 2007 @ 12:34 AM

Posted by Alessia Brio:

"Were-asshole" BWAH!
February 22nd, 2007 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by Joyce Ellen Armond:

The hero can be a were-asshole-alpha-male. During full moons he turns into a decent, caring, thoughtful man with a charming sense of humor.
February 21st, 2007 @ 7:28 AM

Posted by Myfanwy:

You missed an excellent conversation at a forum I go to on were-penguins that even managed to mention a were-butterfly.
Dragons from Anne Mccaffrey yes very sexy.
February 21st, 2007 @ 4:55 AM

Posted by DS:

Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope, both by R. A. McAvoy had a were dragon hero, but he wasn't particularly sexy. The heroine was a celtic musician grandmother and he was Oriental and ageless. They were also mysteries.

Mary Brown also had a dragon/hero. Her books were more high fantasy. The others were urban fantasy.
February 21st, 2007 @ 4:20 AM

Posted by Barbara B.:

Darragha, sadly it HAS happened. There's at least one bear shifter story at Ellora's Cave. It's called Polar Heat by Mary Winter.
But don't let that stop you. Just please don't get on that freakin' dragon bandwagon. Dragon shifters take an already ridiculous premise to even greater heights of absurdity.

I rarely read shifter stories anymore. I never loved them but now I'm effing sick of them. Shifters and BDSM stories have worn out their welcome with me. I'm done with that crap.
February 21st, 2007 @ 3:55 AM

Posted by Emily Veinglory:

Ally Blue has done a were-octopus, I believe. I am writing a were-rat (with conservation of mass and all he becomes a score of large rats) but I fully expect audience reaction to be mixed (to say the least). I have always wanted to do an anthology of bizarre were-heroes but am having trouble finding other writers mad... um, adventurous enough to do it. Paramecia need love too :)
February 21st, 2007 @ 1:33 AM

Posted by Darragha:

I just threatened Bam with a were-polar bear tale. It could happen :)
February 20th, 2007 @ 9:31 PM

Posted by anon:

Were-tortoise -- Please, one former extasy, turned mojo author, has a were-maltese. Don't add any fuel to the fire. :(
February 20th, 2007 @ 8:15 PM

Posted by Alessia Brio:

My first recollection of dragons and sex being intertwined is in Anne McCaffrey's Pern books. They weren't were-dragons & they didn't mate with humans, but when the dragons got busy, the humans with which they were bonded just had to do it, too.

I love those books, although the dragon sex is far down on the list of reasons.
February 20th, 2007 @ 6:53 PM