Wondering Wall: Non-Predatory Shifters

July 11, 2014 Wondering Wall 2 Comments

Wondering Wall: Non-Predatory Shifters

Today’s Wondering Wall is:

Could non-predatory shifters ever be popular?

I haven’t done one of these in nine months so I’m a bit rusty.  When Aryal, the female harpy in Thea Harrison’s Kinked, makes the point that the herbivorous Pegasus character is out of his element in a room full of carnivores, it reminded me of this quote from the awesome absurdist anime series Cromartie High.

“When you’ve been living in the world of badasses as long as we have, you don’t get scared when you see someone who is good in a fight or looks tough in a leather jacket. The ones who really give me the creeps are the ones who look normal…Just think about it, there’s one little bunny rabbit living happily with a pride of lions. Don’t you think that would be one badass bunny?”

Put simply, I wonder if we could have really successful novels featuring shifters that don’t transform into predators but can still hold their own in a fight or romance. Anything like werewolves, were-bears, were-lions, were-tigers, were-boars etc would be out as would were-penguins (they look pretty vicious to me). Shelly Laurenston and some other authors play around with the formula a little but I would like it to go one step further. Here are my suggestions:

1. A skunk shifter – small body odour problem
2. A frog shifter – great at high jump but has a tendency to get really dry skin
3. An elephant shifter – unable to forget wrongs done to them but fairly slow moving
4. A snake shifter – great at hypnotism but refuses to do anything in cold weather
5. A sugar glider shifter – aerial acrobat but uses up its energy really fast

I hate to say it but while these would be quirky, they don’t scream financial or literary success. I think it would be hard to win over an audience attuned to sexy werewolves. The problem isn’t just confined to land creatures. There is still a real dearth of water based animal shifters apart from mermaids and selkies. I would definitely read a quality book about a were-platapus or even a were-dolphin if they were available.  I’d also like it if more authors drew on other cultures for inspiration as many Asian nations like Japan and India have rich shapeshifting tales.

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