The moon is to werewolves as blood is to a vampire. They simply can’t be separated. Sure, the moon might not hold as much sway in modern literature and cinema as it once did (seriously, what is this silliness with being able to transform at will?), but it is still central to the myth of the werewolf. Of course I had to keep the association for my novel.
With a few caveats.
I decided in my world that the werewolves would still be a slave to the moon, and I took it a step further. On the full moon the werewolves must transform. They have no choice, and the longer they postpone the more it becomes a danger… to them, and to everyone else in the immediate area. But they must also transform the day before and the day after the full moon. To me this only makes sense. On both of those days the moon is so close to full that it really shouldn’t make a difference. Its pull cannot be escaped. New wolves will have absolutely no control over it. Once they start there is a chance they can pause the transformation, but they can’t stop it or reverse it. Only the alphas have control over when or where, and even they must answer the moon’s call eventually, with the same risks as every other Joe Wolf. Sorry, my fuzzy little friends. No convenient escape as a wolf, or convenient pop-out-of-nowhere as a human.
Something I find a little strange is that almost no one in entertainment seems to address the time period leading up to the moon. I only remember one movie that addressed the entire month’s cycle (Ginger Snaps), and quite a few authors and directors will hint at things like increased smell or ravenous appetite, but that’s about it, and that sort of focus is only on new wolves. Apparently the hipster werewolves got over that silliness before it was cool. Seriously though, what happens to the rest of the body before that magical three day period of shiny moon-ness? Werewolves aren’t all smell and appetite. Does their human form suffer any changes, or is everything perfectly normal right up until that moon moment? Doo dee doo dee doo… oh snap I’m a werewolf! Most stories will tell you the person lives a normal life until they suddenly transform on the full moon. The explanation? It’s magical.
I think this is bullshit. And lazy.
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that werewolves are real, and that they really can completely rearrange and reform their bodily structure to go from man to wolf. Wouldn’t the body prepare for that? Wouldn’t it know the change was coming and prep itself for an intense three days of omg-what-just-happened? Of course it would. The body would go into super calorie hoarding mode. Metabolism would shoot through the roof. The poor human-form werewolf would want to eat everything in sight (and again, to be fair, this is commonly addressed with new wolves). Their hormones would also be all over the place. Cranky wouldn’t even begin to describe it. Maybe their body even begins a few preparatory changes, such as increased body hair or harder nails as much as a week in advance. Maybe their eyes pop early and become light reflective. It’s about energy conservation, right? Wouldn’t the body seek to minimize energy loss on those three days of WTFery? It could do that by addressing minor changes ahead of time and leaving the big stuff for that traumatic shape shift.
All this because that silly moon decided it would orbit earth and become a little brighter once every 28 days or so. The thing has the power to rise and sink oceans. Who’s to say what it could do to a werewolf’s body when combined with the reflected light of the sun (a magical catalyst)? The moon is still there the other 27 days of the month. It has time to influence more things than just the one big transformation party.
Sadly, pulling something “new” and “unexpected” seems to be a cliche these days. Everyone expects the changes. It’s almost refreshing to see things done old school, such as a defined lack of control and adherence to the moon’s schedule. Modern society likes to be in control. Werewolves are about a complete lack of it. That aspect of the werewolf needs to be re-emphasized.
Again, if you have any favorites or hate-its about werewolf tropes, please leave a comment. Some of your feedback has already given me ideas for the sequel 😉
Tomorrow’s post (or later today, for some of you): Wolf form, and all the nasty that goes with it