Woody the Werewoodpecker – A PRIZE!

May 21, 2008 at 11:01 am (Contests, General, Marcia Colette)

There are a lot of shapeshifters out there. Although Unstable Environment is about werecheetahs, werewolves will always be my favorite. I love reading and learning about wolves in the wild, so it makes sense that I’d write about them. I also like goats, rabbits, and giraffes, but that doesn’t mean I want to “were-ify” them, too.

This topic came about when I was talking to my coworkers about my book. “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” Anyway, they wanted to know if there were any other weird, shapeshifting animals I had written about because cheetahs sounded strange to them. Then again, the words “paranormal romance” left them looking a bit confused, too. When one of them brought up something about werehamsters, I laughed and rolled my eyes.

Are there some boundries I wouldn’t cross when it comes to shapeshifters? You bet your fangs there are.

There was a time I thought any animal could be made into a shapeshifter as long as the story was believable. Then, my practical thinking got in the way because it starting calculating body mass and things like that. IMHO, certain animals are not meant to be shapeshifters. Case in point: imagine a 200 pound weresquirrel roaming through your backyard looking for nuts. If you’re rolling your eyes, frowning, or laughing, then your probably understand where I’m coming from.

Wereaardvarks, donkeys, and elephants are too out there for me. If a writer is putting it in the context of Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Wererabbit, then okay. I don’t mind a good laugh. But if someone wrote about a shapeshifting cow, I’d probably roll my eyes at the book and put it back on the shelf. Why would I choose a novel with reservations when I could have a pry-it-from-my-cold-dead-hands read by Lori Handeland, Kelly Armstrong, or any one of my fabulous co-bloggers?

Am I being too judgemental? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of that. So, help me free my mind here.

Maybe if the story is good enough, I might be able to set aside my laughter and put on my “serious” cap. But the minute the writer talks about squeezing the tits on that shapeshifting cow for a glass of milk to go with the hero’s oatmeal cookies, I’m through. There won’t be enough romance in it for me to keep a straight face after that. Were-goats? Not buying it either. In fact, that borders on perversion in my mind. Not sure why, but it does. *shrug*

Now with all of that being said, there are some werecreatures I can believe. The standard ones (werecats, werewolves, gargoyles, mermaids, dragons, etc.) are definite winners. Shapeshifters based on myths and legends are fine with me, too. If the writers does such a fantastic job that I find myself saying, “Wow. I can totally see that happening”, then I’ll buy it. I don’t mind stretching my imagination as long as it doesn’t trip me out of the story. But if I end up with a book about a shapeshifting meerkat, I’m abandoning ship without a life preserver. Stuff like that, should be left for Disney movies.

What kinds of shapeshifters do you draw the line at, if any? Also, I’ll be choosing a winner for an autographed copy of Unstable Environment, so tell everyone you see to stop by and post a comment.

~Marcia Colette


  1. TeresaDAmario said,


    You don’t have a “serious cap” do you? What color is it? I wanna pic! LOL.

    But I agree, there are some animals that I just can’t do. I might “mention” them in passing, because in my world, I make it so any animal CAN Be a shifter. But I can’t see me writing about them all.

    Now here’s one for you – the Water Buffalo… it’s so intelligent it hides in wait of hunters that killed other buffalo in past trips, and charges to retaliate. Now THAT’s a smart critter. Shame they don’t show the beauty I like to see in a shifter.

    For me, the animal must show beauty and power, and strength like no other. Have an edge of wildness to it. This typically means the large cats, the wolves, maybe even some of the raptors. As intelligent as said buffalo is I don’t find him beautiful to behold. I don’t see strength and power when I look at him, despite what is truly there.

    Now I’d love to see a really talented author change that. Go that extra step and make us fall in love with a shifter of another form than the standard. That could be very interesting.

  2. Larena Wirum said,

    I really couldn’t see a were-monkey. I can’t think that would work unless the author was writing a comedy. That would be too weird. 🙂

  3. Michele Hauf said,

    Hmm, I once did a werefrog. I rode the top of a kelpie’s head in the Seine. Attacked the heroine, but if I recall correctly, she sent it splatting against the wall lining the river. Hee.

    How about a wereworm? But then if you’ve seen Tremors, it works for me. A werebumblebee? Werebeetle? Okay, I gotta stop this. Thanks for the smile, Marcia!

  4. Michele Hauf said,

    “It” rode the kelpie’s head, not ‘I’. Heck, I ain’t getting near a kelpie…

  5. Virginia H. said,

    I would read about any type of shape shifter. It doesn’t matter what kind. There is no limits.

  6. Larena Wirum said,

    oh man love the werebumblebee & beetle. Very funny. werefrog? LOL

  7. Becky said,

    I can almost agree with Virginia–I just love all shapeshifters. I can even see some of the smaller creatures shifting into a smaller kind of “human”—well maybe not humans, but fairy or something. They need lovin’,too! I’d like to see the werebumblebee and werebeetle–they could shift into neat little pixies or fairies–like Jinx!

  8. Shari C said,

    I enjoy reading about most shapeshifters, but I am not sure if I would care to read about wereturtles or werepigs…that might be stretching it for me.

  9. Lilly K said,

    I don’t think a weresheep would really work, nothing powerful or sexy about sheep. lol.

  10. Marcia Colette said,

    Teresa, I’m with you about the buffalo. While big and powerful, I don’t think they’d make a good shifter. It would take some real talent for me to fall in love with a shifter like that. As for my serious cap, it’s green with red stripes and yellow polka dots. Pink streamers are coming out of the top, too. 😉

    Larena, I could easily see a weremonkey in a comedy. In fact, I could see Ben Stiller playing the part. *ducks from flying objects*

    ROFLMAO, Michele! If you kept going on that train of thought, I would’ve ended up on laughing up a lung.

    Virginia and Becky, that’s my problem. I’m too literal when it comes to my shifters. A 200 lb guy shifting in to a six-inch pixie just doesn’t compute. However, if the writing is fantastic, I’d be willing to suspend my disbelief and give it a try.

    Shari, I just had this horrible thought of a werepig changing back to human form in the mud and a farmer finding them. That’s just…wrong. And as much as I like turtles and think they’re cute, they’re not sexy. Another case where a talented imagination is required.

    Lilly, a weresheep falls into that Wallace and Gromit category. It would only make a cute children’s movie.

  11. Larena Wirum said,

    I could see Ben Stiller in something like that. Now you have my mind going in that direction. That would be very funny. 🙂

  12. Greta said,

    lol – on the werehamster and cow. I don’t see it and I would read a book on it.
    I just can’t see it. However in Nora Roberts’ Circle Trilogy (Morrigan’s Cross, Dance of The Gods, and The Valley of Silence) the shapeshifter in that series Larkin – shapeshifted into a rat. However in the story, the way it was written and presented it worked. But he could also shapeshift into a wolf, horse, eagle, and dragon.

    One animal I could do without a shapeshifter changing into would be a snake. Those scare me to death.

  13. Teresa W. said,

    Would like to be able to read about a wereshark, I think that would be pretty cool! Although any kind of were insect would definately be out.

  14. Ann M. said,

    I had to laugh at some of your examples of just “wrong” were-animals. Thinking about it the mass and change you – too small or too large just is wrong. 🙂 I don’t think I could buy a were-deer, I’d be too busy thinking of Bambi.

  15. scooper said,

    You are too funny! Squeezing for milk and dunking cookies… *grinning* Anyways, there is no way I’d want to read about a werehummingbird, but a weredonkey could be funny. Every time the hero was a jackass he could transform into his weredonkey form. Hmmm…

  16. Savanna Kougar said,

    Weredonkey jackass form — now that’s funny! Anyone read the Orca King by Darragha Foster, obviously about a whale, and it’s gotten some rave reviews. And has devoted fans.
    This is such a fantastic topic. ‘Cause that’s always a question, isn’t it? What works for a shapeshifter/were and what doesn’t. I had to chuckle big time when you mentioned the cow shifter. We had a rambunctious tongue-in-cheek discussion about those shifters on the Liquid Silver forum. One result, I wrote a three-part flash fiction about a longhorn bull shapeshifter. The current WIP title is A Whole Lotta Bull. I’d copy the flash here, but it’s a bit racy. Truthfully, I got to thinking about bulls. They are incredibly strong and there’s a lot of ancient mythos around the Bull. Also, I happen to like longhorn bulls. They’re sleek and feisty and powerful. And smart. Which is why they were replaced by today’s domestic bulls. Think of that bucking twisting bull the bull rider is on. Come on, those critters are magnificently built. Also, what about the fighting bulls of Spain. Talk about a splendid beast. Anyone buying this? Or is it a whole lotta bull?

  17. *lizzie starr said,

    Believable weres… I can see almost any critter as a possibility–depending on how they’re used in the story. A lot of that has to do with the animal’s personality…definitely, a monkey shifter would be a comedic character. Like a sidekick. The shifter’s ‘animal’ should have a reason in the story, too. There should be some sneaky reason why a character can change into a rat–good or nasty.

    Most of all I think the hero/heroine shifters, and their animal souls need to exhibit nobility. This is why wolves, large cats, dragons are so popular. There is an inherent noble quality to the animal, even without the human side.

  18. sidhevicious said,

    I pretty much agree with you on all points! There are just some animals that don’t “fit” what I as a reader, can accept as a “believable” version of weres/shapeshifters. For me, mostly predators of some sort make a credible were. A werebutterfly just wouldn’t cut it for me any which way, lol.

  19. Crystal B. said,

    When I think of shapeshifters I think of a powerful creature. I don’t think shifting into an insect or a farm animal would work for me.

  20. TeresaDAmario said,


    There is a book about a wereshark! I’ve read it. I Can’t find the name of the author. Grrrr. Nina Bangs also has a wereshark, but he’s a secondary character.

  21. Colleen said,

    I agree that some creatures are not suited to be “were”. Maybe for some freaky Sci-Fi B movie, you can be outrageously creative, but for it to be believable you have to have standards!!! I enjoy the “normal” shapeshifters, why change a good thing!!! 😉

  22. Blood & Dogs | Literary Escapism said,

    […] an interesting entry today.  She was discussing her novel, Unstable Environment, and the topic of what animals would make good shapeshifters.   “Imagine a 200 pound weresquirrel roaming through your backyard looking for nuts” – […]

  23. Edie said,

    You won’t write a werebunny book? If I did a were-something book, it would be a cat. I love my cat so much. And my dog, of course, but she’s best as a dog.

    I wouldn’t read a werecow book, but not because of the body mass thing, which I never thought of before. It’s because cows are boring. They are not sexy — unless your other main character is a bull. Cheetahs now, they are very sexy. 🙂

  24. Marcia Colette said,

    Greta, I could see someone shifting into a giant snake, but they would be the villian in my book. There’s nothing sexy about them in my mind.

    Teresa W., Teresa D., if there are mermaids and mermen, I can see sharks. Whether or not they would be good or bad, I don’t know. Still, it would be interesting. I’ll have to find that Nina Bangs book. I love her vampires. 🙂

    A weredeer. LOL! Ann M. I could see that being a warped Saturday Night Live skit.

    Scooper, can you imagine someone going around saying, “I’m a jackass. No. Really.” And then change to prove their point.

    Savanna, that’s an awesome title!! And Spanish bulls? Hmmmm. I guess if the writer did it well enough, I might be enticed to pick it up. Maybe. 😉

    Lizzie, excellent point! If there’s some nobility involved with the character, then we’re getting somewhere. I don’t want to see a guy thinking he’s the bomb by being able to turn into a chipmunk.

    Sidhevicious and Crystal B., you’re not the only one who has a problem with insects. I could see people adopting certain insectoid aspects, but not a full-blown weremosquito, be or otherwise buzzing around my head. It’ll end up being a short story with a tragic ending and some Calamine lotion involved.

    Colleen, if you want abnormal shapeshifters and B-movies, sci-fi channel will have them. The normal shapeshifters are definitely winners with me.

    Edie, I’ve written a short werebunny story, but only because I had nothing better to do while at work one day. It will never see the light of day. 😉 If you’ve ever seen that attack rabbit in one of those Monty Python movies, then that’s pretty much what happened. And I’ve see a “were” dog before. In Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, Sookie’s boss turns into a dog. I sort of like his character, too. 😉

  25. Wendy said,

    A wererat. Are you SERIOUS? Eek! lol. Or a snake, any sort of insect is just too yucky.

  26. tasha t said,

    were hamster, and it be a old bf, hheheheh and i could put him in a cage with a wheel
    bope im not evil at all , wicked grin

  27. Shari C said,

    Marcia, if you are interested in the book mentioned earlier where there is a shark (it is a liopleurodon or the prehistoric equivalent of a great white shark about 80 feet long) and a weresnake as secondary characters it is Nina Bangs new book called ‘Eternal Pleasure’. There are not only vampires and werewolves in this wonderful book coming out, but other weres and immortal beings of her wonderful imagination.

  28. Marcia said,

    Oh yeah, Wendy. I never heard of a wererat until Laurel K. Hamilton and I’m still a littel fuzzy on the details. At least Raphael, the rat king, was a secondary character and not the main one.

    LOL!! Tasha, you’re a woman after my own heart.

    Thanks for the info, Shari! I fell off the bandwagon with Nina because my poor library got buried in books. She’s an author who I’ve been dying to pick up again for some time. You’ve given me more than enough reason to do it. Thanks again!

  29. Amberkatze said,

    I supposed you can ‘were’ anything if you really want to but it depends on if people really want to read about it. I hate spiders and a were-spider book would have me running for the hills. I love any kind of were-cat book but I have to say that some were creatures would be a little over the top for me.

  30. Liviania said,

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