Thursday, March 11, 2010

Under My Skin: Mini Guide to Beasties

Judith sure loves her beasties.. the poor town of Redgrave is overcome with them! I thought it would be fun to have her give you a little taste of what you'll find in Under My Skin....

Redgrave’s Beasties

As you’ve mentioned, Mel, Under My Skin (UMS) features a smorgasbord of paranormal beasties converging on one small northern Alberta town, Redgrave. Here’s the quick and dirty lowdown on the key creatures that roam the pages of my little gothic tale.


In UMS, my main character, Eryn is a shapeshifter, part-wolven/part-human. They are born, not made. Wolven is a term I created for her species, but it’s basically the same as lycan, which is more familiar – humans shifting to wolf form. The difference between wolven and lycan is pretty great. Most wolven (with the exception of those like Eryn’s mother – those who feel more human than wolf) live the majority of their lives as wolves. That has huge impact on their human interactions; it affects their motivations and lifestyles.

I wanted to emphasise this fact, so wolven they became.

Eryn doesn’t know much about wolven strengths/weaknesses and therefore neither does the reader. But Eryn’s learning fast. ;)


Werewolves are very different from wolven. In the Skinned world, they are forged with dark magicks and ruled by their creator (usually a demon, vampire, or other strong supernatural being). They’re hell hounds, creatures without thought – acting on command and ruled by both their master and lunar cycles. When not killing, they rest in stasis, hiding in underground dens until the next full moon. At that time they awaken and serve the violent needs of their masters. They are filled with bloodlust. Bites do not themselves cause a human to turn. This can only be accomplished if the human is marked according to paranorm law, and then bitten. Without the mark, the bite only wounds or kills – it doesn’t spark the change.

And poor Redgrave is overrun with these nasty creatures. Yikes!


No paranormal story is complete without a resident vamp, and Redgrave has a few in high places. Logan Gervais, the town’s chief of police, and his progeny, Wade, are taking the town, and Eryn, by storm. In the Redgrave world, vampires have the same rules as most vamp lore – they can’t be in direct sunlight, they drink human blood, and they can influence people with mind control.


There are several key witch characters in UMS. They work positive magic; their power isn’t used to harm. There are no warlocks – a witch is a witch – either male or female. However, witches rarely birth sons and when they do…look out – those boys have more than their share of power. Witches and wolven don’t get along (some pesky servitude thing from way back), so sparks are sure to fly if they’re left alone together. Maybe that’s why Wade and Eryn have such chemistry.

However, Wade is an oddity as far as vamps go. He’s the male child of a witch, and he inherited her power after he was turned. He has special abilities. He can walk in the sun, and Logan exploits this to his advantage. He thinks he has Wade under his black-nailed thumb. Humph. Too bad Wade’s developing a mind of his own.


This creature of aboriginal lore is a shapeshifting, man-eating giant that lives in the North because its heart is made of ice. Legend has it that windigo were once human hunters who became lost in the snow and resorted to cannibalism to survive. Once they’d had a taste of human flesh, they became ravenous beasts. The more humans they eat, the bigger they get.

Luckily Alec Delacroix comes from a long line of shamans and hunters. He and his brother, Matt, manage to take down the windigo who killed their father. But will Alec be able to trust Eryn – to accept her ability to shapeshift like these crazed beasts?


While not paranormal in any way, I did research wolf behaviour to incorporate their traits into Eryn’s character. There are many reasons my girl’s got attitude, hates authority figures, is competitive, etc. It’s in her genes, man!

Luckily, my husband’s cousin, Joe, is a Ranger working in Jasper National Park. He took this pic of a wolf he encountered while on a hike in the mountains.

 Joe was also kind enough to provide me with some stats on wolves in Alberta:
  •  Wolves in Canada, particularly in Alberta, have it pretty good compared to wolves in the U.S. They don’t have to live in sanctuaries. We have plenty of wilderness for our wolves to explore.
  • The largest wolves are found in the northwest (Yukon, Northern British Columbia, and Alberta). Historic range is/was all of Canada and most of North America.
  • Average weight is about 45kg but can get up to 80kg.
  • They’re believed to mate for life and have an average of 6 young.
  • It’s believed that the species does not have an inborn tendency to kill but rather is born with certain behaviour patterns that allow it to learn to kill (i.e. they learn to kill from their parents.)
  • They hunt for prey through direct scent, chance encounter, and tracking. They are quite coordinated in their attack. I recall watching a pack hunt elk. One wolf acted as a decoy and essentially chased a bunch of elk into an ambush. Others were waiting in a series of thickets.

So there you have it. A bit of “real” info on wolves and some lore behind UMS. I hope this intro into the creatures of the Skinned series was of interest. NOTE: There are still lots of creatures to make themselves known.

Now that you've had a glimpse into her world, what do you think?

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him? on 11 March 2010.


alybee said...

Wow! Really can't wait for it to be out.

Judith Graves said...

Thanks Aly! If you like dry humour and wolfies - you'll get a chuckle at least. ;)

Dwayne said...

I'm compelled by werewolves and wolvens - hope this one comes out sooner!

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