Phobia Friday: Chaetophobia - Fear of hair.
Werewolves are misunderstood creatures, according to author Bob Powers. Along with writing partner Ritch Duncan, the pair have written a handbook for newly-turned lycanthropes. Full of handy information, like what to expect on your first transformation and how to make your human life compatible with your werewolf life, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is indispensible for lycanthropes and the people who love them. Bob spoke to us about why he and Ritch felt this book was so necessary.
What inspired you to write The Werewolf’s Guide to Life?
Both myself and Ritch, without getting too specific, have been touched by lycanthropy. We are not saying we have the condition, but we have encountered people and have people close to us who have contracted the condition. In talking to them, we realized that a guide such as this is necessary since there are so many secrets and precautions that need to be taken in order to stay safe. We realized something like this is necessary, to collect the experiences and create a conversation.
What kind of response have you gotten from the lycanthrope community?
Initially, during the research stage, they were very wary. The last thing they want is to admit that they are a werewolf, let alone share what they do to keep safe and keep secret. But gradually more and more were willing to talk to us, until we had spoken to hundreds of werewolves across the country. Most of them are happy with the way the book came out.
There is a small minority, the Lycanthrope’s Ascendance Movement, who thinks that his book should not have been written because they think it is basically a field guide for werewolf hunters. We think werewolf hunters already know how to track their prey, and we think it is much more important to get this information out there so more werewolves can be safe.
Is werewolf hunting a big problem?
It can be. There aren’t many because frankly, they are hunting a very dangerous game. Many perish while hunting their game. But just one is enough to uproot many, many werewolves. If you have built a life for yourself and you are keeping yourself secret, one guy coming into town is enough for you to have to start all over in another location.
Do you think there will be a time, in the foreseeable future, where lycanthropes will be able to “come out of the closet?”
It’s certainly a dream, but we don’t see it happening soon. It’s hard to ask non-lycanthropes to accept that there is this extremely dangerous person living among them, no matter how many guarantees you give that the lycs are taking the necessary precautions. It’s understandable that a community would say that they don’t want this person living near them. Our book is not about that; it is about how to manage the current situation. We don’t presume to have a solution for changing the current situation, it’s just how to live within it.
You mentioned that, in researching for your book, you spoke to a lot of werewolves. Did you do much historical or cultural research?
Initially, the book started with a handful of photocopied documents, a kind of oral history that was given to us by one or two werewolves. These are the kinds of papers that have been passed around throughout the years. It was pretty rudimentary stuff like good ways to remain restrained. Some were sketches of werewolf hunters – one I remember was over 100 years old. It was very rudimentary stuff, but that gave us the idea that this needs to be built upon. People are already trying to do so. For the most part though, most of the stuff for the book came from interviews and personal experiences.
What are the biggest misconceptions about werewolves?
One is that they can’t be controlled – they can. That is why it is so rare to hear of a werewolf attack. They are doing what they can to live their lives safely. Another misconception is that they want to do damage, they want to kill. They don’t. Werewolves were normal, everyday people before they became human beings with lycanthropy. They have a condition that they have to manage. The condition doesn’t make you want to kill, it just makes you have to control yourself.
Are there any kinds of werewolf outreach programs or support groups?
You can find them, but it is rare that you can find ones that meet in person. On the web, there have been some. There was one that was just recently shut down, called Howl Anon. It’s mainly for relatives of werewolves. It was infiltrated by several werewolf hunters, so they had to shut it down. I wouldn’t want to publish any URLs, but if you are Googling for these sites, you can spot the ones that are obviously fan sites, and the ones that will cater to your needs. Before you are let in, you will be screened, probably with questions only a real lycanthrope could answer.
Do you feel the representation of werewolves in film is fair?
For the most part, we don’t really mind them. More often than not, the werewolves are portrayed sympathetically. Movies like The Wolfman and An American Werewolf in London focus on the tragedy of contracting this condition when you don’t know how to handle it. Occasionally there is the “evil werewolf,” which we obviously don’t like. We certainly don’t council anyone to watch a Hollywood movie to learn how to live as a werewolf.
How can your book help non-lycanthropes?
It can help them see that lycanthropes are not monsters; they are people with a condition who are living amongst you already, and they are managing it.