Had an interesting discussion the other day with a writer friend. I was chatting about a book I’ve been editing for my agent. It’s called Foxoddness and it features a character named Will. And Will’s mother was a fox. This led to a discussion about whether that made Will a shifter.
Me, “Nope, he doesn’t shift. Well, he did once and I suppose there is a danger he could again. But he’s not a shifter in the traditional sense.”
Traditional sense? Once upon a time shifters were cursed humans who lost their humanity once a month, when the moon was full, and became animals. Or some hybrid of animal and human. Then that sorta changed to shfiters who could shift at will, who weren’t cursed and didn’t lose their human intelligence when they shifted.
Why the question mark with traditional? Well, once upon a time, mythology featured animal guides who sometimes walked in a human shape, and sometimes in an animal shape. They weren’t actually called shifters… I’m talking about the tricksters. Coyote, Rabbit, Raven…etc.
My friend? Well, she isn’t particularly fond of shifter stories, feeling it’s a bit on the bestiality side of things. So, as we discussed my book and my characters and I tried to explain that no, Will’s mother isn’t a shifter either.
Her, “So, his dad has sex with a fox.”
Me, “Uh. No. When she’s with him she’s a human woman.”
Her, “So, she is a shifter.”
Me, “Uh. No…she’s a magical mythological creature. I’ve read of them in Japanese mythology. Though usually the vixens trick men into denning with them.”
Her, “So, he thinks he’s with a woman, but she’s really a fox.”
Me, “Uh. No. She’s…hell. Okay, she’s both human and fox. Two realities that change places…she’s a fox, but she’s also a woman. But mostly, she’s a fox.”
My friend isn’t big on paranormal elements.
But the whole conversation got me thinking about the idea of how one defines a shifter. Will was born a fox but now he’s human. So…technically, he shifted. Once. But he isn’t a shifter. He does have odd gifts from his supernatural mother. Hence, the name of the book. Foxoddness.
Which my friend thought was a strange title.
😉 I love conversations like this! Get my brain spinning. Not sure my friend found it as fascinating…