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.
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