Another productive session at RomantiCon was a reader focus group on what people want to see more of or less of in paranormal romance. The question was raised whether a shapeshifter's animal form has to be a predator species. Wolves and big felines (tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, etc.) are, of course, the most popular kinds of were-beasts. People didn't seem to have any trouble with birds as shapeshifting heroes if they are raptors. The consensus seemed to be that a romantic hero must have an animal form that carries an aura of power and perhaps danger. Dogs and cats were okay with most people, too, depending on the story. Bears weren't mentioned, but certainly the bear bridegroom is found in fairy tales.
There seemed to be a generally dubious attitude toward herbivores as shapeshifter heroes, though. I think, however, that some kinds of non-predator animals make perfectly good were-heroes. Horses, for example. Stallions represent wild, free masculine power, and of course the traditional girl-horse bond contributes to the allure. Nancy Springer's YA fantasy HEX WITCH OF SELDOM, although not strictly a romance (no "happily ever after" union), has a teenage girl involved with a man-horse shapeshifter. Mary Jo Putney has a historical romance with a hero who has been involuntarily changed into a unicorn. What about bulls? Zeus ravished one of his human mistresses in the form of a bull, among many other shapes he assumed in myth, including the swan that impregnated the mother of Helen of Troy. Non-mammals other than birds? A large serpent, maybe? And don't forget the frog prince, not exactly a powerful or ravishing creature but certainly a familiar fairy tale motif. Branching out from the land, consider the Silkie, the seal who takes the form of a man and seduces women. I think a dolphin shapeshifter would make an appealing hero, though I don't remember ever reading about one. What other kinds of animals are charismatic enough to make suitable alternate shapes for the romantic male lead? Setting aside romantic comedy, in which a frog or any other less dignified form might work (again, as one of my editors always says, “it depends on the execution”).
In my fiction I've had werewolves, weredragons, a wizard changed into a St. Bernard, and a vampire who takes the form of an owl.
Margaret L. Carter
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Posted by Margaret Carter at 11:50 AM
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
I like shapeshifters, but what's the big deal about them shapeshifting into animals? Odo from Deep Space Nine is my favorite shapeshifter.ReplyDelete
I vote for ODO too!!!ReplyDelete
I think it had to do with his struggle to find his true identity and then dealing with the horror of realizing what the Dominion did to 'solids' and his unrequited love for Major Kira. It mattered more to me *why* he shapeshifted than what.ReplyDelete
the mighty Zeus gets my voteReplyDelete
"I think it had to do with his struggle to find his true identity and then dealing with the horror of realizing what the Dominion did to 'solids' and his unrequited love for Major Kira. It mattered more to me *why* he shapeshifted than what."ReplyDelete
Good points! I agree that Odo is an interesting character for those reasons. How about the episode where the mother of one of the regular crew members (I have gone blank on everybody's names) provided her skirt as a vessel for him when he couldn't maintain his shape any longer? Very emotional moment.
"The Muse" I loooved that episode and that scene was only one reason why. It was Lwaxana Troi, played by the legendary Majel Barret-Roddenberry. Not only was she a mother of one Deanna Troi, but she was pregnant in that episode, an older mother. It was so sad to see how lonely and yet noble Odo was, but then how selfless she was in the end. She needed him as a friend, but she could've taken advantage of him too. She didn't.ReplyDelete