Settings for Shapeshifters?

June 20, 2008 at 7:50 am (General) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Arcitc WolfAs I write my shapeshifter series, I want to keep the stories as realistic as possible. So my werewolves won’t be located on island paradises, because if they get caught in their wolf coats, there’d be trouble. This is not to say they can’t go there on vacation when the moon isn’t out, or if they are royals (evolved from the early lines that have very little human mixing) where they are able to shift at will despite the moon’s presence, but just that living on an island where wolves don’t live, would be pretty difficult to explain if they caught like that. And the thing is, they live in secret, so it’s not something they would normally do. What about the desert? The Amazon jungle?

Authors could explain that the wolves were once someone’s pets and they ended up having a pack, if they’re located where they ought not to be. Or it could be an alternate world where the animals still exist. As I’ve done research for historical stories, I’ve learned that wolves used to live in many areas where they’re extinct now, so they would be fine in a historical setting.  

 In my first three stories, Heart of the Wolf, Destiny of the Wolf, and To Tempt the Wolf, the werewolves are located in Colorado and Oregon, where wolves exist. In Legend of the White Wolf, the story is set in Maine so you’ll have to read why Arctic wolves are living in the unlikely state of Maine!






In my Changeling story, the heroine shifts to a panther and the story is futuristic, so they live on another planet and can exist anywhere.

But what about other kinds of shifter stories? Do the dragon shifters need to have caves? Selkies who change to seals would have to be near water at some point, I would imagine.


 Golden Dragon

So what have you read or do you write? Are the shifters constrained to a certain setting or environment, or are they free to live where they please?

Terry Spear

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male.” 



  1. teresadamario said,

    Hi Terry, excellent topic!

    Because my shifters are not driven by the power of the moon (Despite what I put on this blog when we started), Mine can technically be anywhere. However, if caught in wolf form, they are usually in rural places where you have alot of folks with wolf/dog hybrids. So for the untrained eye I push in that direction if any human runs across them.

    in fact, it’s a case of serious frustration at times when they have to hold back their howls, etc. Especially since in the real wolf world, the lonely howl of a wolf is rarely “lonely”. It’s usually a celebration of sorts. My guys seem to slip up on occasion and howl when they shouldn’t. In fact, I may add that to a story line some day. 😀

  2. terryspear said,

    Hey Teresa! I love that aspect of your story. I read one that talked about a wolf/dog/coyote, the heroine wasn’t sure what it was. So great idea! 🙂

    And in one of mine, the heroine says something about the wolf she saw, and the hero dismisses it as a dog. 🙂

  3. Becky said,

    Hi Terry,
    If you haven’t read them, Kate Douglas handles the wolf issues in a neat way for Wolf Tales. She has a cover for them as a secret agency with wolf operatives. So they have one shifter stay human and the rest shift and voila they are an investigative unit on a secret mission. Cool huh?

  4. terryspear said,

    Hi Becky, that would work! 🙂

  5. Beth Trissel said,

    Most interesting, Terry. I hadn’t thought about all the setting issues that you have with this theme. It’s stories like these that make me want to quit writing and just read. Oh, and I love the white wolf–have one in my upcoming release Through the Fire, but he’s not a shape shifter. Might interest you to know that I feature a shape shifter in the paranormal/historical novel I recently submitted to the WR for their consideration. A Shawnee writer/sub chief told me about the long-held Native American belief in bear walking, which is basically shape shifting. I used that in Daughter of the Wind.

  6. terryspear said,

    Thanks, Beth! Sounds like you’ve got some terrific story ideas too! Bear walking sounds fascinating! It’s fun to draw on cultural myths and legends for our stories! Good luck on your shapeshifter historical for WR. 🙂 I love historical paranormals!! 🙂 And good luck on Through the Fire. I’ve got edits to get back to on Deidre’s Secret for them, but no shapeshifting, just psychic. 🙂

  7. Beth Trissel said,

    Thanks and back at you. 🙂 The Shawnee warrior (they still refer to themselves as this) I spoke with actually believed one can achieve the elevated state of mind to achieve bear walking. ??? Another warrior I spoke with believed, no, Knew, he had a bear spirit guide, until he offended it and the bear left him. He was very sad about that. Said he could still send it to aid others so he sent it to me.

  8. terryspear said,

    LOL, that’s sooo cool, Beth! 🙂

  9. Cindy Spencer Pape said,

    Interesting thinking, Terry. In my first shifter novel, Curses, from Wild Rose Press, my hero chooses to vacation in Michigan, and when the heroine sees him, she is delighted to think wolves are repolulating the wilderness refuge. Now that I think about it, I do address that issue in any story where I have an animal shifter, including a bear and a selkie. I think you have to at least think about it or your story doesn’t ring true.

  10. terryspear said,

    I like your premise, Cindy! Hmm, nice wolf. 🙂 LOL

  11. Pamela K. Kinney/Sapphire Phelan said,

    Depends on what kind of shifter I write about, and not all my werewolf stories for example are the same. I write under two different names. One writes horror, Sf and fantasy, so I have werewolf and even a werepanther horror stories published. As Sapphire Phelan I have a werelion and they do not need the moon though it can help too. Mainly it’s by beast magic that helps them change. All the shifters, from lions to leopards tpo wolves in my world use the beast magic. Strangely enough, they are in animal form at first, then one day shift to human form. After that they shapeshift to their beast forms.
    As for that selkie, they would need a good place to hide their skin, since that is how they shift, as the myths say. 😀

  12. terryspear said,

    Thanks for sharing, Pamela! I’ve never written a selkie story myself, forget they have to hide their skins. But interesting about your beast magic! 🙂 That’s the fun with everyone having such great imaginations and bringing the shifters to life! 🙂

  13. Savanna Kougar said,

    Terry, wonderful blog. Luv your white wolf pic! And dragon pic too! My lioness shifter lives in the far future where shifting is known about thoughout the galaxies, although there’s a lot of prejudice against cat shifters themselves. So she has to watch her paw-walking step.
    In my wolfie shifter mss, the hero pretends to be a wolf dog because he’s been injured. But the story takes place near a national park, a perfect place for wolves to roam. He and his pack actually have their own small town and private huge acreage.
    In my current wip my black cat girl can shift into a domestic cat and a panther, so she’s not too restricted in wherever she wants to be in topside human world.
    Beth, so cool the Shawnee warrior sent you his Bear Spirit to help. I swear animal spirits show up sometimes to let me know about them when I’m writing…yeah, call me shapeshifter crazy. LOL.

  14. Caffey said,

    First, I found on Deborah Cooke’s about this blog and so excited. Dearly love reading shape-shifters! I’m a reader so it was great reading this post and the authors responses. I love reading the variety and the creativity that comes with each authors book/series. I have to look more in the setting of the stories. I recall some books really emphasized where they are set when others don’t, usually more with single stories. Something for me to pay attention to too. Great posts and responses. I hope I can find all your sites about your books!

  15. terryspear said,

    Hi Savanna! I responded to your message yesterday, but it’s not showing up….weird…must be shapeshifter gremlins messing with it!
    Great on the national park setting. 🙂 In Don’t Cry Wolf, I did what you did with them owning their own town. So that’s fun!
    That’s neat about the cat girl being able to downsize! LOL I love it.

    Hey, Caffey! Glad you found us! Yeah shifting stories are a lot of fun. When I get to post next, I have another question I can’t wait to find out what everyone thinks! 🙂

    Hope everyone is having a super weekend!

  16. Caffey said,

    I’ll be here to answer the question Terry!!! You too have a great weekend!

  17. terryspear said,

    Super, Caffey! They won’t let me post again until July 9, so I’ll have to be sure I don’t forget the question by then! 🙂

  18. Deborah Cooke said,

    I like to play with the elements associated with the animal side – so my dragon shape shifters have hoards (no money worries), they do breathe smoke (but as a protective barrier and territory mark) and they have lairs (often with high tech security features). It’s said that dragons prefer princesses, virgins and damsels in distress – Quinn in KISS OF FIRE enjoyed that his destined mates name meant “princess”. NO virgins on the scene yet (!) but apparently the Pyr do have a fondness for damsels in distress – my heroines seem to be thick in some kind of trouble when the Pyr show up.

    I think it’s fun to take those traditional elements and twist them a bit.


  19. terryspear said,

    Ohmigosh, Deborah, I want to be a dragon shifter with hordes and no money problems. LOL!!! 🙂 Great scenario. 🙂

  20. Barbara Martin said,

    Hi Terry,
    I write about shapeshifters whose only restriction is not to get caught in the present time. They have had problems in the past with the political regimes in power in Europe, and because of that tend to be wary of humans. Mine are not wolves, and would rather not get into the type as I am still at the stage of being an aspiring writer.

    To write about the animnal half, it is important to know how that animal relates to its environment and what is expected of it within its species.

  21. terryspear said,

    Hey, Barbara! That sounds interesting! I so agree with you about how the animal relates to it’s environment and what is expected in its species. For fantasy, anything can go, but I still like realism. 🙂 To pretend the fantasy world is truly real!Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: