Shapeshifters, chest-wax, and fairy-tales . . .

A while ago, I was invited to write a guest blog post for SF Signal. I decided to do something about why so many of my stories have shapeshifters as important characters, where the roots of my fascination with this type of inhuman or edge-of-humanity characters lay, and what sources had influenced this (McKillip, medieval Danish ballads, Ladyhawke, and most of all a picture book version of “Little Brother and Little Sister”), but I couldn’t seem to find the right way into the essay at first. Then in the bookstore I saw a bunch of paranormal romance novels featuring shapeshifters. (Ahem, can I say here on my own blog that Holla-Sayan would eat them for breakfast?) The cover art, all these shiny-chested guys posing with their shirts off, made me think, “Do they shave their chests or wax them?” And for some reason that gave me the kick I needed to think about what shapeshifters mean in my own writing, and why I’m most at home with characters like Holla-Sayan, Mikki, Rookfeather, the prince in “The Dragon’s Bride” in The Serpent Bride, Silverlad (as I called her, following a peculiar translation of the ballad — she’s actually meant to be “Silverlocks”) in the same collection, and a really cool character in the new Torrie book that I’m not going to tell you about yet because it’s not finished.

About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, Gods of Nabban, and The Last Road epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at
This entry was posted in Blackdog, News, Torrie, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.