Shifters Shift, Right?

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.”

Her. “Right.”

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…


  1. That’s the beauty of shifting/non-shifting … and making it up as a writer. How does it work in your world? For my recent novel, Chains of Silver, I have my werewolf bite someone in the beginning, and my editor asked if that meant the person would turn into a werewolf. Hmmm … I certainly wouldn’t want that scumbag to be a wolf. So then I had to think of *when* and *why* it would happen. Talk about getting the mind going.

  2. Yeah, it’s like figuring out the “Bite” and the ‘bite’… The werewolves in The Kraken’s Caribbean Series don’t turn anyone. If you’re born a wolf, that’s who and what you are, but biting doesn’t do it. I may…I may work with human/werewolf couples. Some are born wolf, some aren’t…

    My vampires can turn people, but only with permission.

    With Foxoddness…well, he isn’t a shifter! Neither is his Mother…but it is hard to twist the brain around!

  3. Not shifters, but magical beings with the ability to shape shift?

    i remember reading about the Japanese mythology you’re referring to. If it rains on the wedding day then the bride is probably a fox. and the family catches her when she is putting on her human face. or sometimes she can’t hide her tail and they try to lift up her skirt to see it. There’s a whole buncha different stories about it…

  4. Yeah, it’s sorta follows the flavor of that myth…they aren’t shifters, they are tricksters… Sorta!

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