What ever happened to the big bad wolf?

August 13, 2008 at 6:00 am (General, Lori Devoti) (, , )

by Lori Devoti

Paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels have been “hot” for some time now, but you still come across articles by people who have just discovered the genres and don’t quite get them. These writers really seem to miss how/why romance readers are drawn to what historically have been evil creatures. Vampires, werewolves, demons–the mainstay of the horror genre have become our HEROES. This just leaves the writers of these articles flummoxed.

Which got me to thinking–why are they our heroes? I have a couple of theories. First that when the first romance author introduced us to a vampire or werewolf hero (Anyone know who that was?) it was fresh–unique. We, like these bewildered article writers, hadn’t seen that in a romance before. Second, while we didn’t always have vampire and werewolf heroes, we have had (and loved) tortured and alpha heroes. These paranormal creatures offer the ultimate possibilities for both of these. Who can be more tortured than a being who hates himself…hates what he has to do to survive? He is the ultimate bad boy–makes James Dean and Humphrey Bogart look like Charlie Brown.

How couldn’t we love them?

But now, weres and vamps have been around as heroes for a while. Is the fresh factor gone? Are we ready for the come back of evil? REAL evil? As in (gasp) making them the bad guys? Lori Handeland did this in her Moon/Nightcreatures series. Patricia Rosemoor and Marc Paoletti did in their urban fantasy, The Last Vampire. And if we do this–who will our new heroes be? Surely not…humans…

What do you think? Are you ready for more truly BAD weres and vamps? Or do you like ’em the way they are–deadly, but sexy? Leave a comment with your opinion–or offering up the name of who you think the ORIGINAL vampire/were hero romance author was and I’ll put your name in a hat to win Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper–not a romance or a shifter book, but still a good read. 🙂

p.s. Pimping a bit here…If you are interested in a fun multi-author contest, check out Treasures from the Dark. And if you’re interested in helping a great cause, winning fun prizes AND getting your writing in gear, check out Unleash Your Story to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.



  1. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Well, I’m still happy with them as good/bad guys – Good guys with bad traits… dangerous, deadly. Gorgeous and sexy. But who was the first? Gee, I don’t know. I got my first taste with Dark Shadows as a child. Do you know how many little girls cut their teeth on that cheesy, poorly acted soap? LOL. I consider that show the parent of this genre, but then, I was one of those little girls. LOL. (Yes I’m showing my age here)

    Some say Brahm Stoker’s Dracula was actually a romance, though I don’t really see it. Not in the original, anyway.

  2. Terry Spear said,

    I loved shapeshifters, whether cursed or not, since the time I was young, and the one that comes to mind was the man who was a polar bear by day, handsome hero by night–children’s story. And it was a romance. I think subconsciously, stories like that made me believe shapeshifting didn’t turn a human into a beast. But, it was still a curse, rather than a way of life. My shapeshifters for the most part were born that way. So they’re very well-adjusted. 🙂 The ones who are bitten and changed that way–we.. not everyone is happy. And to my way of thinking, that’s how people would be. Some welcome change, new experiences, enjoy being a were. Others–nope. 🙂

  3. Dorian Gray | Literary Escapism said,

    […] Devoti is asking What Ever Happened to the Big Bad Wolf over at Shapeshifter […]

  4. danette said,

    Is the original Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire?

    I like the vamp/were heroes the way they are. It is nice to read them darker sometimes.

    Hugs, Danette

  5. Lori Devoti said,

    That’s what I think too, Danette–that Anne Rice actually started all of it, even though Interview with a Vampire wasn’t a “romance.” She made evil sexy. 🙂

  6. Lilly K said,

    I think it was Anne Rice also, when Interview with the Vampire came out everyone was talking about it and it was The Book to read.

    Slightly dark vamp/were heroes are good, but I don’t like them if they are too dark.

  7. new_user said,

    Hi, Lori! I know you from the GR paranormal group. I was chasing links, and I found this page. Lovely blog. 🙂 As to your question, you know, I think I like it when werewolves are written the same as humans, and by that I mean that some of them are good, some of them are evil, but they’re all powerful. I kind of like the way Briggs writes her wolves; most of them are in the gray and that’ sobering and enthralling at once.

  8. Cathy said,

    I’ve been a romance fan for 30 years. This said the really dark and the “BAD” don’t belong in this genre. Those go to the Horror section and I left that behind at Jr. High after Edger Allen Poe. The darkest I get is some of Freeman’s Carpathians and Kenyon’s Dark Hunters. I like history, Romance and Si-Fi so the current” Paranormal” Romance books have provided me with a 2000 book TBR pile. I’m hoping this attraction to shape shifters lasts a good long time.

  9. Moira said,

    I think they, like humans in a mystery or suspense book, can be the best of both… evil or sexy as hell. Maybe even both depending on the story. I tend to like the tourtured heroes we seem to get from these particular characters. So much depth to these heroes to explore. And even dark has its place in romance…

  10. Savanna Kougar said,

    Fascinating, everyone. I’ll hit the edge running here with only ONE reason why I think weres, shifters, vamps, etc. will remain in the romance genre as heroes, heroines as well as the antogonists — we, as humans, are shifting. We are shifting in consciousness, and we are attempting to grow in power, in new ways that will truly make a difference in the world.
    Shifters can give voice to that shift in a way that nothing else can. Not to mention, if you go in for the theory of life elsewhere. Well, probably, some of us have experienced lifetimes as shifters or feline/canine races????

  11. Lori Devoti said,

    And the winner is…Lilly K!!

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