Shapeshifter Stories that Aren’t???

September 30, 2008 at 1:00 am (General) (, , , , , , , , )


I once read a historical romance that alluded to a hero who was a lynx shapeshifter, yet in the end I don’t believe he was. HUH??? Yep, it was like the author wanted to have the mystery, but didn’t want to really write that the hero was a shapeshifter or the publisher might not go for it as a historical romantic fiction.

So I felt…cheated! I wanted to know that he was, or he wasn’t. Preferably that he was.  Variety in stories, of course, is what makes them fun to read. But still, if I’m sucked into thinking I’m reading a paranormal, I don’t want it to be an illusion.

In Winning the Highlander’s Heart, I have that the heroine has second sight. I love the paranormal, so I wanted to add it to a historical romantic suspense, but in a realistic way.  And of course, it adds conflict, foreshadowing trouble, and it can spell doom for her if her Highlander companions believe her to be a witch.

In creating a shapeshifter world, we must show how different it is from our own, but how similar also.  Do you feel cheated if the paranormal element is alluded to, but never fully explored? To me, it’s like having a witch who doesn’t use her powers and being a witch isn’t important in the scheme of the story. Then why have that’s she’s a witch? If the paranormal element can be removed and the story doesn’t change, then maybe it doesn’t belong.

To me, that’s so important with a shapeshifter story. If someone can shapeshift and it doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things, why have that the person can shapeshift? How does shapeshifting impact on his/her life and the lives around him/her? That’s what’s so important.

In that vein, it’s important to show the shapeshifting side of the characters early on and show the impact that it has on everyone else in the story. 🙂

So what do you think? Do you mind reading a shapeshifter story or other kind of paranormal that just alludes to the paranormal element? Or do you want to see the shapeshifter world and everything that it entails??

Terry Spear

Heart of the Wolf (avail now), Don’t Cry Wolf (Coming Mar 1!!)

Betrayal of the Wolf (Fall 09), Allure of the Wolf (Spr 10), The Vampire…In My Dreams (avail now), Deadly Liaisons (vampire RS, coming Nov 15, 2008)



  1. Savanna Kougar said,

    To be totally honest, I hate it when a book promises the paranormal but never delivers!!!
    And that was one reason I began writing my own stories.

  2. Greta said,

    So far I’ve been lucky and haven’t read any books like that. However, I think I would be really ticked off if that happended.

    Love the cover of the new book.

  3. terryspear said,

    Good for you, Savannah! And thanks Greta! 🙂 I was disappointed! I kept expecting to see that he truly was a shapeshifter, but it remained murky the whole way through. 😦

  4. Beth C. said,

    I don’t really mind stories that have a hint of the paranormal in them. I know in that early 90s that was about the only way to have paranormal elements in books.

    Is there or isn’t there a ghost haunting the old house/castle/mansion or is it just the villian. Variations on Beauty and the Beast or Phantom of the Opera. The odd curse thrown in that may or may not be causing certain events.

    The latest Victoria Alexander historical has a curse, very skeptical h/h and ‘helpful relatives’ who believe in the curse.
    Paranormal elements a part of the story but not really the main plot. It isn’t marketed as a paranormal and shouldn’t be but it is still enjoyable.

    I guess if something was marketed as a paranormal and didn’t have a clear answer, then I’d be disappointed. But if it’s just another romance with some unusual (paranormal, magic, psi, etc.) powers I like reading those too.

  5. Marcia said,

    I’ve read a “shapeshifter” story where the hero was supposed to be a wolf. While he might have acted like one in human form, there wasn’t any transformation. I think they spend so much time bumping between teh sheets that the author forgot about having the transformation actually happen. When the story ended, somehow this chick of his was donned the Alpha Female. “Of what?!” was my question. And to think this was a paranormal? Since then, I never bought another book in the series.

  6. terryspear said,

    Thanks, Beth. Yes, you’re so right. I wrote a story for True Romance last year that had to do with ghosts and a psychic. But with the confessionals they have to be like true stories, so no shapeshifters, etc. I had to make it as realistic as possible. A friend of mine sold one to them also for that October issue about a man who perceived himself to be a vampire. There’s a medical condition that talks about this, so she was able to sell her story also. 🙂

    I would feel so cheated, Marcia. If it’s a shapeshifter story, I want to see some shapeshifting! What happens when the characters shapeshift? Do they nearly get caught? I want to know! 🙂

    Thanks, ladies, for commenting! 🙂

  7. Cathy said,

    You betcha I feel cheated when that happens. You buy the book because your looking for a shapeshifter book and then NOT get it! I want what I pay for. I don’t buy turkey to find I got chicken instead.

  8. terryspear said,

    LOL, Cathy, I love your response. I so agree. 🙂

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