Werewolves and Wolves Fiction and Facts by T.L. Mitchell

            Over the years there have been many paranormal romances and thrillers written containing werewolves.  In past years, the term werewolves struck fear into the heart of anyone who heard the term.  However, lately werewolves are used in another form as friendly and loveable.  So how do we term the evil creatures from the good creatures? What is the difference? 

            In our discovery, let’s start with understanding some facts about wolves.  Wolves have been very badly misunderstood animals over the last decade.  They are important creatures to our eco system.  Many farmers and live stock owners disagree, claiming they are a nuisance and should be destroyed.  Truth is wolves are just as important to our world as the air we breathe.

            Wolves are the largest member of the canine family, with a height from 26-32 inches.  They weight from 55-130 lbs and have a life span of approximately 7-8 years.   Some wolves have been known to live 10 years or more.  The diet of wolves consists of large hoofed mammals, such as dear, elk, moose and caribou.  I think you see why live stock owners would consider wolves a problem.  In Alaska, there are an estimated 7000 to 11,200 wolves and more than 5,000 in the lower 48 states.  In earlier times, there were estimated populations of up to 2 million wolves, where now there are only estimated 200,000 in 57 countries. 

            In the mid 1930s, wolves were once common creatures in North America and killed in most areas.  Today their range has been reduced to minimal areas throughout the US and Canada.

            The behaviors of wolves are mainly pack-like. They live, travel and hunt in packs of 4-7 animals.  The packs include the mother and father, their pups and several other young wolves. The alpha female and male are the pack leaders that track and hunt prey.  These leaders choose den sites and establish the pack’s territory.  Wolves develop close relationships with one another and strong social bonds.  They demonstrate deep affection for their family and may even sacrifice themselves to protect the family unit.

            Werewolves are considered wolf-shape shifters by many.  The name werewolf comes from the “wer” Old English term for man.  Man-wolf.  Legends around the world speak of men and women who could turn into wolves and back into human form.  In their animal form, the werewolves were bloodthirsty creatures that devoured humans.

            The werewolf legends occur in all parts of the world.  Some scholars have suggested that these transformation legends are no more than echoes of ancient ceremonies where people wore animal skins. 

            An interesting note, European werewolf tales date back from ancient times.  A Greek king named Lycaon was turned into a wolf as punishment for serving human flesh to the gods.  The Greek word lukos(wolf) and anthropos(man) comes the term lycanthropy.

            Now let’s discuss the difference between werewolves and Lycans.  We know they pretty much mean the same thing- a man (or woman) who can turn into a wolf.  Truthfully, they do not need the light of the full moon to change.  They can change at will. So where do we form the opinions of bad and good werewolves?  In Europe, the werewolf folklore is not just a simple myth or legend.  There was a time where werewolf legends were rich and varied in stories.  These stories were interesting as we begin to see tales about hero werewolves and a variety of species. So in fact, the werewolves in the older, darker days were considered blood-thirsty beasts.  Which is probably where we come up with the evil looking, more scary creatures in the movies. 

            Another folklore, I would not want to pass up is the one I use in my Dark of kNight Series.  My wolf- shape shifters are termed Lycans and they hunt evil werewolves. The background history on their characters is from the Native Indian’s folklore.  Some facts about where the Native Indians came up with their legends were said to be based on early settlers.  The early settlers brought with them their European beliefs and either retold old tales or created new ones.  This statement or fact, I disagree with.  The Native Indians are rich in their folklore, legends and beliefs.  It is my belief that the Native Indians already had stories about wolf spirits, eagle spirits and shape-shifting long before the European settlers arrived. 

            If we would take the true nature of a wolf as a Lycan, then we would see a family who has a strong relationship, loving and would die for one another.  The parents would be the forefront leaders of the pack and the children would learn from examples and discipline.  Does this sound like an evil creature? Not really.  This sounds more or less what we find in our paranormal romances or shape shifter novels.   I think any woman who reads a story about a strong male, determined and confident wouldn’t swoon in his arms…werewolf or not.

Be sure to check out T. L. Mitchell’s new release Fall of kNight, coming May 18th!

You can pre-order your ecopy today at All Romance Ebooks!

Available in Trade Paperback Summer 2010

from Wild Horse Press