Lucas Milliron || Interview with a werewolf

What got you into werewolves and how old were you when you discovered them?    

Let’s see, my first exposure to werewolves was actually the movie Monster Squad when I was a kid. That was probably my first introduction to a lot of monster movie creatures. From there I dove head first into my local video store and just devoured as many of the old cheesy classics as I could. Then came American Werewolf in London, and then the book Cycle of the Wolf by Stephen King. Now my real fascination with them began when I was a teenager playing the table top RPG World Of Darkness. That’s when I found that werewolves could have so many deeper layers as characters, and not just the reluctant werewolf.

Do you share the same love of other types of shapeshifters?    

To an extent. My favorite are coyote shifters. Theres a lot of native American folklore about how coyote is a teacher by prank, and will put you in a situation (often life or death) that it knows you will fail. The idea is that you learn from that mistake. Old man many-skins is a good example. Especially with all the voices coyote can mimic.

Now, my exception to the rule are were-sharks. I think people can get a little carried away with some of them. I love the cheesy factor, but only when it’s done well.

In a few other stories I’m working on now I do blend a little bit of other shape shifting characters, and really want to play with a few untapped character arcs. Who are you when you can be anything and anyone you want?

What do you think it is that attracts you to werewolves?

One simple idea. If you don’t like the skin you’re in… change it. The way I see it, the line between monster, human, and animal isn’t as fixed as people think. Sometimes, we are the monster, we are the animal, and we must shed that skin and become something more. That was what inspired my series Becoming.

Do you prefer a gory werewolf tale or a more serene, nature loving version? 

Yes.
I’m a fan of Edward Lee, Brian Keene, and Wrath James White. All very extreme horror novelists. But I also like publications such as Lamplight and Apex Magazine, more on the quiet side of horror.

What does the ideal werewolf look like in your opinion? Give some Cinematic examples if you have any.

I like the idea of the full fledged Guru form, that hulking monster with massive claws and hair. But I also enjoy the idea that they can practice and harness their gifts. I don’t want to give too much away, the second book in my Becoming series explores my ideas and thoughts on that. But I do enjoy stories like The Wolfman, where it’s not a fully fleshed out monster and they still have more human attributes. I even like the idea of tails, although cropped tails look meaner.

What should a werewolf NOT look like in your opinion? 

Hmmm… Nothing lanky or skinny. They shouldn’t look majestic. Twilight immediately comes to mind. Even if they turn into a direct wolf it should be mean and feral, not fluffy and cuddly.

Give a cinematic example of a werewolf that didn’t quite meet your expectations.

Twilight. It was awful all the way round. I was also not a fan of the subsequent underworld movies. They didn’t fulfil the werewolf to it’s full potential, and instead focussed on the vampire action scenes.
(A discussion about Twilight prompted the expanse of this response to include the following.) I’m OK to an extent with magical changes, if it helps propel the story or plot line better. You can;t always give the nitty gritty details of a transformation every time if you want to have a more action rammed scene. It also makes dealing with the question of clothing easier, although I do find that a bit of a cop out.

Stepping away from the cinematic side of things, what is your favourite werewolf novel and why?

My favourite werewolf novels would have to be Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, Shapeshifters by J.F. Gonzalez, and The Howling by Jerry Brander.
Now Stephen King takes the darker side of a werewolf who’s accepted what he is, and has embraced the animal within. I also love that his werewolf is scared.
Mongrels is a story you have to read. It’s super well written and thought out, reinventing some of the rules just a bit, in a way you don’t see very often.
Shapeshifters is a very fun pulp horror novel. It plays well with the darker, human aspect of the monsters, and is a very fun read just over all.
Of course The Howling being the book to the movie doesn’t require much of an introduction.

Back to cinema, what is your favourite werewolf film?

American Werewolf In London aside, I’d have to say there were a lot of really cool aspects to the Netflix series Hemlock Grove. But after the second one, and specifically the ending to the second season, it got too tongue in cheek, like way over the top. Silver bullet also comes to mind, as does the wolfman remake, I think that one doesn’t get good enough praise.

Do you have any werewolf related songs to recommend?

Of Wolf and Man by Metallica.

Do you have a particular favourite werewolf artist, what is it about their art that you love?

Mostly the illustrators for the tabletop game White Wolf, as I’d mentioned earlier. Their artists are just amazing at capturing a moment.

What do you think of the way representation of werewolves has changed over the years? (In both literature and cinema.)

I love that werewolves are more character driven now. I’m not a fan of the hot and heavy sexuality aspect they are pushing, becasue sex is so cheap and easy to sell. I feel there is so much under the surface they are not taking advantage of. There’s something missing. That’s why I’m a fan of Mongrels, being so dirty and gritty.

Tell me something that makes the werewolves in your works unique. What makes them special?

I think it’s fire. It’s learning to control yourself, and accept your inner demons and just be who you are. Capable. There’s so much more than just being half man, half monsters. You have to live with it on a daily basis, you live with yourself and just be comfortable in your own skin. Plus, my werewolves battle with things even scarier than they are. More of that is fleshed out in the second book. My first is almost all character building, self discovery and accepting your flaws.

What are your other passions within the horror genre or out of it?

Well, I’m also working on a musical… It’s a heavy metal musical based on Dante’s Inferno. It’s a modernization, with elements of thrash, power and death metal blended into a three act play. The script is finished, I just need to find collaboration with a musician who can write scores.
I’m a self taught guitarist, bassist and vocalist, so I can play a tune, but not compose it well.
I also paint.

 Tell me about your most recent werewolf related work.

That’s my book series, Becoming. I’ve finished the first two books. The second is needing an editor’s touch, so I’m in the market if you know anyone!!
The broad strokes, it’s about Cody who has had a rough upbringing between his mother’s passing and his high school bullying. Then as he comes out into the world on his own, discovers the world is far darker than he knew, and he must live with the monster inside himself. It’s a very intense emotional thriller, as well as a werewolf coming of age story. The second book expands on that, touching deep into the realm of Urban Fantasy, Fae, and Lovecraftian horror in a way that I have not seen the werewolf played out ever before.

Who is your favourite character within your own work and why?

Depends on the book. In my series Becoming, my favorite always seems to die… So I really don;t want to spoil that for the readers. What’s the expression, We must kill our darlings?
But in my other works, which may eventually have a crossover into Becoming, a series called Lunatics, the main character Kayden is my absolute favorite. I’m not a big fan of dragons, but when you have a character of color, who’s half dragon and a sorcerer of Fae magic, it’s hard not to love his potential for bad ass’ery.
But my favourite character of all time has yet to be written. It’s a story I’ve got plotted in a few different places and still needs to get off the ground in the next year or so. It’s looking more like a 2019 date, but it’s too soon to say. It does have a short story attached to it, so I can say this, she is a dominatrix, necromancing, necrophilliac… It’s a pre and apocalypse type story. It’s a massive work I’ll be undertaking, becasue she deserves it.

Do you have any big upcoming plans relating to werewolves? Any new works on the way?

I plan to put out Becoming in 2018, I’m taking steps now to get a few covers done ahead of time. and working on a publishing and marketing scheme.

Will you be available to meet other werewolf lovers and fans in the near future, are you doing any outings or signings, or attending any conventions?

The plan next year is to put out the books first, then figure tour schedules after, possibly for 2019. I have to work out things with my day job.

 

Do you have any places online where other werewolf fans can contact you to discuss your work or anything lycanthropy related?

I’m available on Facebook, on TwitterInstagram, and on my website.

Vampires and zombies have both become seriously popular within the horror genre in movies, do you think that as technology continues to improve werewolves will eventually reach the same kind of status? 

 

I think it is due to come out of the shadows. I think writers need to honor traditional Werewolf tropes, but to also explore other facets of the mythos. They have been trivialized as mindless monsters in much of the pop culture these days. Publishers are stating they are NOT INTERESTED in werewolf stories. There are so many rich stories that could be told. We have to look at ourselves and flesh out that beast hidden within us, and embrace our feral gifts.

Vampires are “sexy,” and zombies are metaphors for societys collapse. Werewolves are deeper than both. Werewolves are about dealing with our most animalistic and primal selves. Special effects should ALWAYS play the supporting role to great narrative.

Werewolves will have there day. It’s up to us to write their story.
There is so much more I could say, but that’d be a novel all it’s own…