Today, I am very please to have a very special guest – Cecilia Dominic. She is the author of the Lycanthropy Files trilogy, which is being re-released this month. Book 1, The Mountain’s Shadow, releases today. You might have caught the new cover reveal back on August 15th.
The rest of the series follows very quickly with Long Shadows on September 15, Blood’s Shadow on September 29 and A Million Shadows on October 13 (a Friday – perfect for a Halloween story set in Salem).
After Cecilia’s guest post, please keep reading. I’ve got the beautiful brand new cover for book 2, Long Shadows.
Guest Post by Cecilia Dominic
Lycanthropy homework: let’s get metaphysical
Hi, my name is Cecilia, and I’m a research addict. No, really. I would have stayed in school forever if I could have, but alas, at some point, people expect you to go out and make money or something. Some people say their minds are like sponges. Mine is more like a very hungry sponge with big, pointy teeth and ADD. Okay, that analogy made more sense when I first came up with it. But my brain does crave knowledge about topics that have nothing to do with what I’m supposed to be focusing on at the time. Thankfully that has led me down some interesting paths that turned into books.
When I was on my pre-doctoral internship in Arkansas, my side interest turned to werewolf legends. Because what better to give my brain a break from my dissertation topics of sleep deprivation, irritability, and aggression than people who turn into wolves? I knew I wanted to write a novel set in the Ozark Mountains and that I needed a good paranormal creature. As a psychology intern, I was also aware of how childhood disorders seem to come and go in terms of press and awareness, so why not a genetic disorder called Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome? The setting seemed perfect for lycanthropes, but I wanted to give my wolves something unique beyond a medical twist.
Lycanthropy has a long and fascinating lore, and thanks to the magic of the internet and the nice Barnes & Noble in Little Rock, I was able to get my hands on several interesting books. I started with a classic, Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves, a study of the topic originally written in 1865. That book first exposed me to the term hamrammr, or “subject to fits of diabolical possession” (p. 43).
It wasn’t until I read Claude Lecouteaux’ book Witches, werewolves and fairies: Shapeshifters and astral doubles in the Middle Ages that I happened upon the werewolf model I wanted to use, which arises out of an old pagan understanding of the soul as having three parts. In Chapter Eight of The Mountain’s Shadow, my heroine Joanie comes across evidence that her grandfather was doing similar research when she happens across the same book. I’ll let her explain:
The first book made sense, as it presented a fascinating summary of the possible origin of werewolf legends in the Middle Ages. The ancient Scandinavian people had a different understanding of the soul. The spiritual part of a human had three parts: the fylgia, or psychic double, often seen as a female representation of the self that can act prophetically; the hamr, an aspect of the soul under the control of some people, which can take on a different form and travel when the individual is asleep; and the hugr, which can motivate the hamr or can represent universal principles of behavior. Some believed werewolves were actually the peoples’ hamrs, their spirits taking on another form after they left the body to carry on works that may or may not be diabolical.
I had seen physical transformations, not just behavioral. The books on the table indicated my grandfather was also looking into the old legends that a person didn’t physically transform, but rather their spirit did. Once in animal form, the person could then effect physical change on the environment such as carrying objects and wounding others. The problem was that whatever happened to them in that form also happened to their human body. Hence the stories of someone cutting off a werewolf’s paw and the person, usually a witch, waking with a severed hand.
To put it in more modern terms, the fylgia is like a guardian angel but an actual part of the person. The Scandinavians also referred to that construct as a double that preceded the person when they arrived and had to be given room to leave after the individual departs. If someone astrally projects themselves, or goes “spirit-walking” as some of my characters are able to, that’s the hamr at work. If you’re a fan of ghost stories, you probably are familiar with something similar to the hamr appearing to someone as a ghostly version of a far-away loved one when that far-away loved one has just died. The hugr is more difficult to understand. It’s the force that gives life to the body – so perhaps closer to our modern understanding of a person’s soul or spirit – but also motivates the hamr with baser desires, such as thirst or the desire to fight.
Of course as a sleep psychologist, I’m fascinated by the connection between sleep and strange metaphysical occurrences, and I can’t help but use that association in my books. My werewolves have a genetic disorder that challenges them physically and spiritually, and as their author, I’m enjoying the challenge of discovering more about them and their origins as the series progresses. As you’ll see in the second book, Long Shadows, sometimes the fylgia gets frisky. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy figuring it all out along with Joanie in The Mountain’s Shadow.
Lecouteaux, C. (2001). Witches, werewolves, and fairies: Shapeshifters and astral doubles in the Middle Ages (C. Frock, Trans.). Inner Traditions: Rochester, VT.
Baring-Gould, S. (1995). The book of werewolves. Studio Editions, Ltd: London. (Original work published 1865)
About The Mountain’s Shadow
One bad choice cost me my job. Another one could take a bite out of my heart.
I was about to solve the puzzle of the latest childhood disorder du jour – Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome – when my lab went up in flames, my job went down the tubes, and my lover went back to his ex.
When I found out my grandfather left me his multi-million-dollar estate in the rugged Ozark Mountains in his will, I thought my luck was turning. But my inheritance came with a few problems that go way beyond layers of dust and creaky floors: kids in the area that go missing during full moons, a mysterious death, and a band of werewolves who consider the property their own private hunting ground.
I’ll have to do more than face my research again to solve the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor and stop a horrific epidemic. I’ll have to risk love, friendship, and the only true family I have left. And possibly doom myself to the fate that killed my twin brother.
Warning: Contains a sweet romance with just the right touch of naughty, and calorie-free food that’ll feed your heart, not your waistline.
About Long Shadows
This time, being true to myself could be a deadly mistake.
I like to solve problems. The hard kind. A social worker by day, P.I. in my “spare time,” I’ve even figured out how to handle my little “werewolf problem.” After a dose of wolfsbane, my physical body stays safe in bed while my wolf goes spirit walking. If only she didn’t have a mind of her own…
After I overhear my sleazy boss plotting to turn my office into a trap, my instincts tell me to run. But not only do my problems stick like a bur in my fur, I find a whole new set.
Deep in the Appalachians, I learn a family secret that means I’m unique, even among werewolves, and I’m stuck on the dangerous border of a century-long war. Now I’m pursued by a rogue sorcerer with poisonous intentions, other wizards who’d like to throw me in a gilded prison, and a band of ghostly wolves thirsting for my blood.
Worse, there’s only one man who can protect me, and even he demands a price: my heart. Even though his own may be forever beyond my reach.
Warning: If you’re a carbophobe, detailed descriptions of Italian delicacies may wreck your will power. Also contains sexy situations, adult language, and brimming glasses of wine.
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About the Author
Cecilia Dominic became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop making stuff up. By day, she helps people cure their insomnia. By night, she writes fiction that keeps her readers turning pages past bedtime. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, but she prefers to be called versatile, not conflicted. This Amazon bestselling author has been published in short and novel-length fiction and currently writes urban fantasy and steampunk. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats.
You can find her at:
Web page: http://www.ceciliadominic.com/
Wine blog: http://www.randomoenophile.com/
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