Shawntelle Madison is the author of Coveted, a story of werewolves, magic and just a little therapy.
Werewolves have been used as sexual metaphors before, in recent times most famously perhaps by Angela Carter. What is it about werewolves and sexiness, and how did you go about keeping the sexiness in your own werewolf tale?
As an author, or even a reader, the werewolf can represent many things. One idea that resonates with me is the animal magnetism associated with the alpha male. They represent the loss of inhibition; they’re primal, sexy, and dangerous at the same time. A part of them is free, and for many people like myself, they are a form of escapism. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d love to leave my office and escape my worries for a spell.
In Coveted, my heroine’s internal conflict resides in living as a werewolf while facing her anxiety. The werewolf part of her, which is animalistic and free, feels constrained by the order she imposes on her life. This order gives her comfort—whether it’s wearing a similar wardrobe everyday or keeping her home as clean as a surgical suite.
Support groups, anxiety and enchantment: How’d you develop the details of the support group in your novel? Was it difficult as a writer to address very real anxiety problems in a way that was respectful but still fun? Were supernatural creatures real, would you need to join a support group of your own?
I’ll be honest, I’m lucky I have a spouse who is a physician. I’d done my research of course on various anxiety disorders, before writing. My final test would be if my husband thought it wasn’t too far off the map. Naturally, it’s just a book, and I took liberties here and there, but I still tried to get as close as possible to what I thought was the real issue at hand. In terms of addressing anxiety as a whole, I definitely wanted to face it head on. The serious moments had to be serious, but in between that Nat could shine with her wit. In order for Natalya to come to life as a three-dimensional character, I had to get into her head and see the world through her eyes. She couldn’t be normal one day and then symptom-free the next. Real life doesn’t work that way and I tried to apply the same thing in book. I do need to add that Nat is a fictional character though and some aspects of her personality were created to entertain.
Would I need supernatural group therapy? To a point… I’m one of those people that like things done my way in my household. If you read about how Natalya likes things done a certain way, you’re actually getting a preview into my head. I would probably be the one in therapy that needs to be told to just give up control and let people (my kids) learn to do the things I prefer to just do on my own.
Tell me about Long Island Werewolves. What makes this particular pack such a big deal? Why is there a conflict here?
No offense to the folks on Long Island. But if I was in a werewolf pack, I’d need more places to run. Not that Long Island doesn’t have any parks, but as far as I know, none of them are as large as some of the parks near the locale of the book. Coveted takes place around South Toms River, New Jersey which is a hop, skip, and a jump from Double Trouble State Park. That’s 8000 acres of prime hunting space for those times of the month when you feel the need to wolf out. Even farther south than that are some more major parks. For a growing werewolf pack, it’s all about the space and Long Island Werewolves thought a takeover would be a strategic decision in terms of prime hunting land.
Magic can be a tricky thing to write about, and just about everyone comes up with some kind of theory about how and why it works. How does it do so in your world?
In my book, spellcasters, like wizards, witches, and warlocks can cast spells. These spells are limited to the race of the spellcaster. Werewolves can do magic as well–but at a cost. In the universe of Coveted, magic originates from a source, whether it is from a magically imbued object or a creature that uses magic to change their form like shapeshifters.
So I hear you’re an anime fan. Does anime influence your storytelling?
Anime definitely feeds my imagination. I love to ask what-if questions. And I’ve watched some anime that blew me away and really made me ask myself critical questions about my own work. Other than the main plot, every story has a cast. If I’ve fallen in love with a particular piece, I often ask myself, why I am entertained—other than the action scenes—why have I chosen to watch episode after episode? (For long stretches of time.) Why do I care what happens to the main character? I’m not saying I analyze everything, but one has to appreciate great storytelling and a lot of anime has that.
And I’ll admit it. The visual eye-candy in anime helps. The latest one I really enjoyed was Noein. It was about a group of tweens who meet their future selves from an alternate universe. The storyline really went in-depth at times with concepts from quantum mechanics. I enjoyed the action scenes as well.
So what’s next for you?
Now that Coveted is out, I’m gearing up for the UK release on May 29th. After that, I need to prepare for the sequel to Coveted, Kept, coming out on November 27th.