Lauren ‘HamsterToyBox’ Womak || Interview with a werewolf

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

There was no moment of discovery that I can remember. As a child (And adult!) I was a fan of fantasy monsters in general, although I really loved my WereBear toy. During my teenage years I wrote a really long, terrible, fantasy story in which most of the characters ended up being were-animals – so I suppose that’s when my obsession really started. I was a teenage werewolf fan.

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

In terms of were-animals, wolves or wolf-like creatures are definitely my favourite – partly because they’re the traditional were-creature but also due to finding wolves aesthetically pleasing – I’m shallow like that!

I don’t find other shapeshifters as interesting – they don’t tend to have the loss of control associated with werewolves so the transformation is basically a change of clothes. I do have a soft spot for selkies though.

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

There’s several factors. I like the idea of a monster who can mostly fit into human society, and the tension between the human self and the monster self. I also find the idea of transformation fascinating, and I really like animals, so werewolves were obviously going to be my monster of choice. 

These days what keeps my obsession burning is the community that has grown around the werewolf fandom, and creating my own werewolf universe.

And finally, werewolves are bad-ass.

Do you prefer a gory werewolf tale or a more modernised, romanticised version?

I don’t have a preference, as long as it’s well done. I can’t actually think of any decent werewolf romances though – they all seem to be atrocious Twilight rip-offs. It’s a shame as you could do some interesting things with the genre.

What does the ideal werewolf look like in your opinion?

I can’t settle on an ideal werewolf– I can’t even decide if I prefer bipedal or four legged! However, I do prefer them more monstrous than wolf-like.

Give some cinematic examples of your ideal werewolf.

I wouldn’t say it’s my ideal but I really like the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London – it’s so monstrous and bearlike. I loved the look of the werewolf in the 2010 Wolfman remake  – probably my favourite example of a more humanoid werewolf. I’m also a big fan of the werewolves in Being Human, but I’m not sure that’s allowed as it’s not a film! 

What should a werewolf NOT look like in your opinion?

I’m not keen on werewolves that are basically just humans with fangs and sideburns. When it comes to werewolf art, I want my werewolves to look like more than anthropomorphic wolves (And don’t get me started on the whole nature-loving werewolf cliché!).

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

Remus Lupin – I was really looking forward to the third Harry Potter movie and we ended up with a scrawny hairless rat.

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

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. It made being a werewolf seem so exhilarating, the literary equivalent of wolfing out on Skyrim! It’s also a great read – the type of book that keeps you up until 2am on a work night.

Back to cinema, what is your favourite werewolf film?

Again, I’m going to break the rules and say Being Human – I love how it explores how one would deal with the day to day realities of being a werewolf.  In terms of actual films, I’d say The Company of Wolves- it’s a bit different from the standard horror movie and references a lot of the old werewolf myths. I’m a fan of folk tales in general so I’d probably enjoy it even without the wolves!

Do you have any werewolf related songs to recommend?

The most listened-to song on my iTunes is Local H’s cover of Wolf Like Me! I’ve got a werewolf playlist, but I believe Joey Liverwurst mentioned most of the songs on there in a previous interview. In addition, there are songs that aren’t about werewolves but get me thinking about them- obviously The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, but also Death Comes To Town by Pulp.

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

I’m not really an expert in werewolf trends so I don’t think I can give a very informed answer to this question, although I do wish the whole urban fantasy genre was as big when I was a teenager as it is now. I remember being really excited when I found Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten in Waterstones – now there’s a whole section dedicated to similar books. I strongly suspect I would have been a Twilight fan had I been born a bit later.

Tell me something that makes the werewolves in your works unique, what makes them special?

I’m not sure my werewolves are particularly unique, to be honest! I try to avoid cheesy clichés and ripping off other werewolf designs. I do love a lot of the old tropes like the link to the moon and infection by biting, so I keep those in my canon.

What are you other passions? Vampires, zombies? Body horror? Etc etc.

Haha, definitely not zombies! I’d probably like vampires if they didn’t hog the limelight so much. I’m a fan of fantasy creatures in general, and real life creatures too. I love folklore and fairytales, especially stories from Europe.

Tell us about your most recent werewolf related work.

My latest werewolf-themed work is Queen Helga. I’ve been developing a werewolf royal family lately and this was me trying to design the queen’s wereform. I’m aiming for a werewolf that resembles a vicious little dog!

I’ve been practicing inking with a brush lately so this was a great excuse to ink fur.

Hamstertoybox’s deviantart

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

Bryan. I know him best out of my characters, I came up with him in 2002 and he’s sort of grown and evolved with me. Out of all my werewolf characters he’s the one who’s the least in control, which makes him more interesting to me.

 Also his cheekbones are fun to draw

Do you have any big upcoming plans relating to werewolves?

I’ve set myself the challenge of producing 6 big illustrations this year, and a fair few of those will be featuring my werewolf characters! I’m planning on continuing to develop my werewolf royal family, and tell their stories in these pictures. I’m trying to force myself to draw more humans (Or ‘humans’), so I have a bit more variety in my art, but fortunately werewolves spend a lot of time looking human!

Where will you be available to meet fans in the near future, if you are doing any outings or signings?

I haven’t got any concrete plans so far, I want to do a convention at some point but currently the idea terrifies me. But if anyone knows of any UK based werewolf event let me know and I’ll do my best to be there!

What do you think of the furry movement and how it has affected the way people perceive werewolves?

From what I can tell, the biggest influence of the furry fandom is pushing the most popular design of werewolves in artwork towards anthropomorphic wolves. I can find this frustrating as I see brilliant werewolf artists with unique ideas being passed over the for the more populist styles – but I suppose that happens in all the arts.

That aside, I do quite enjoy the overlap between the werewolf fandom and the furry fandom. My online friends mostly furries, horror fans and werewolf nerds – it’s a good mix!

Vampires and zombies have both had some serious popularity in the last few years; what do you think needs to happen to give werewolves that same boost? (Because whatever it is we need to make it happen!)

Zombies are so enormously popular I’m pretty sure they’re resonating with something in our collective unconscious. In addition, a real life zombie apocalypse feels more plausible than people turning into wolves.
I suspect a very successful werewolf themed film or TV series could lead to werewolves being more popular for a few years – I remember when Twilight was big it was easier to find werewolf stuff in the shops. Perhaps as special effects get cheaper we’ll start to see more werewolves on screen. I don’t know. I just want werewolf tat!