I’ve always been obsessed with werewolves as the most human of all monsters – not undead like vampires or zombies, and not always transformed into something different, werewolves are like me – a person with an illness outside of their control that manifests periodically. Not all of my favourite werewolves make this connection explicit, but it was still my takeaway from watching different kinds of werewolf media.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order: here are my top five lycanthropes that influenced me the most for Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses…
Scott McCall, Teen Wolf.
I feel like I should apologize for this one, but I loved Teen Wolf. Is it a good show? No, not really. But then, on another level, yes. I was frustrated with Scott for the first few seasons of this show, but he surprised me by becoming one of my favourite characters. He’s earnest and loves his friends. I think about the scene with him and Stiles in the parking lot of a motel, holding a flare together over a puddle of gasoline, at least every other week. The raw, tender emotion between them stuck with me, and I think you can see it in Priya and Brigid.
George Sands, Being Human (BBC)
It’s been a long time since I watched this show, but I think it really delves into the experience of being a werewolf in the exact way that I’m interested in more than any other werewolf media that I’ve seen. I love George’s relationship with his lycanthropy because there aren’t really any upsides for him. It doesn’t make him good at basketball or lacrosse; it’s something that he has to manage, that he resents and feels frustrated by, and that he shapes his entire normal life around. Like Brigid, he holds his lycanthropy at arm’s length and struggles to integrate it into his conception of himself. I think this show was at its strongest when it focused in on these small, human moments instead of supernatural drama.
Bigby Wolf, The Wolf Among Us
Although Bigby’s transformations are more controllable than any of the other werewolves on this list, they have an interesting set of rules that they follow as you play through the game. Bigby and Brigid have a little bit of the same energy when it comes to their recklessness and their sense of adventure. My favourite character in any story is always the goofy one or the disaster with a heart of gold, so as soon as I saw Bigby fall asleep in his chair after getting beat up, I knew I was going to love him. Plus, he and Snow have a great rapport together.
Linda Penvellyn, Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor
Okay, I’m cheating with this one. Linda doesn’t actually turn out to be a werewolf in the traditional sense, but she does have lycanthropy – a medical condition where you become convinced that you are becoming a werewolf. I loved this concept, and when I played this game in middle school, it was the first time I’d heard the word lycanthropy, and the first germ of the idea to make it a medical condition instead of something magical.
The Beast of Bray Road
I read a lot of traditional werewolf myths when I was writing this book in order to branch out from existing werewolf lore, which is where I found a lot of my ideas for the wolfsbane potion that Brigid ends up making. But I also looked into a lot of urban legends and cryptid sightings for the Bellows Beast. The Beast of Bray Road was sighted more than once in the Eighties and Nineties in Wisconsin – a large beast, covered in hair, 6 to 7 feet tall, with a wolf’s head. It moved on both two feet and four, and scratched up cars, mutilated livestock in the area, and roamed the woods. But you know what other state has seen more werewolves than most? Pennsylvania.