The amazing, addictive NIGHTSHADE is published in the US this week and although us UK-ers will have to wait another month or so (I promise it'll go really quickly!) we thought it'd be the perfect time to hear from Andrea herself.
Q: Nightshade is about a werewolf. How do you stick to conventional werewolf canon and mythology and how do you deviate?
A: One of the things about Nightshade that I think is really different is that it’s described as a werewolf book, but I often tell people it’s not a werewolf book because it does break so much from werewolf convention. I grew up in the north woods of Wisconsin. I’m literally right on Lake Superior and in the middle of a national forest, so the wilderness to me was something that was really wonderful. I spent most of my days as a young girl out making up imaginary worlds and imaginary people with my brother and my best friend in the forest. That was the way we liked to spend our days.
Wolves and other wild animals to me were always fascinating; they weren’t something that were scary or monstrous, they were just cool. And so, I never pictured myself actually liking werewolves in terms of people picking teams for either vampires or werewolves. In all my reading, I had always firmly been in the vampire camp. I couldn’t figure out why it was that I didn’t like werewolves.
So when I got the idea for Nightshade and it was inspired by the main character, Calla [Tor] who is the alpha female wolf of the pack, I knew she was a girl and I knew she was a wolf. I felt just stuck because ‘Well, I don’t like werewolves so how am I going to write a book about a girl who’s a werewolf?’ And I realized what I needed to do was to create a new mythology of wolves that matched the way I felt about them.
That wasn’t wolves who were half-man/half-beast and its hideous mutations where it took an awful amount of time to change that involved the cracking of bones and lengthening of snouts and left you with something that was just awful to look at. But, was actually a creature that was fully wolf and fully human; Calla and her pack love their ability to change into wolves. That it was an instantaneous change and something they considered to be a gift; that it wasn’t a disease or a curse the way so many werewolf mythologies have been portrayed.
Q: How do you handle writing about touchy subject matters like the violence, gender issues, power struggles, and sexuality featured in Nightshade?