While reading and writing shapeshifter books, I’ve come to the conclusion there is a wide variety of “levels” of shifters. I don’t mean types of animals, but how much of the animal behavior moves into the human side of the shifter.
In Sherrilyn Kenyon’s shifters, she has two types – one who are animals when asleep, so they maintain a very animalistic outlook on life. Then she has the ones who are mostly human who have a very human outlook on life.
Most authors have one type, and so much decide which their characters are most like – their animal sides or their human sides. With dragon shifters, this is usually not as obvious, because… well, who knows what a dragon would really act like, anyway?
But if we take the more traditional wolves or tigers, or lions or even house cats, how much of their animal behavior are you willing to accept in the books you read?
In my books, I tend to merge quite a bit of the animal behavior in with their human counterparts. It’s not exactly the same, of course, because we have human civilization bearing down on them, their hearts and minds are changed.
But I’ve read other books who only maintain a few of the traditional behaviors of wolves. The only difference between their stories and contemporary is the person enjoys the occasional shift. Most authors are in the middle. They take bits and pieces of the canine world and merge them with the best parts of humanity.
Some, though, skew the wolf like behavior more toward what we see in dogs, as opposed to wolves. Why? Because it’s paranormal, and it works for their worlds. And since I’ve read very few shifter books that didn’t work for me, then obviously they did a super job.
It makes me wonder what the readers think (Readers other than me, because I’m also a reader). I use wolves just because that’s who on my mind now, pounding away at my keyboard telling their story, but this is the same “genre wide”. In my mind, there is no right, and no wrong. We all love shifters for different reasons. Sometimes it’s the alpha male quality, sometimes it’s the animalistic quality. Sometimes it’s the combination of humanity and animals.
But how much animal do you enjoy when you read? And how much is too much? And while we’re at it, if an author puts a shifter of any type in an area of the world the animal themselves is not common in, does that bother you? For instance, the Lion is from Africa. Can we have Lion shifters in the USA?