The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

How To Write An Entry About A Naked Werewolf

Chris Szego
Posted May 12, 2011

weewolf.JPGSome titles are born great.  Some titles achieve greatness, usually through the hard work of an editor, agent, or author (who probably ripped out chunks of her own hair in the process).  And some titles will never come closer to greatness than possibly containing some of the same letters.

That’s partly because when it comes to titles, “great” is entirely a matter of perspective. 
An author might want a title that captures the essence of her
story.  I’ve known writers who agonize for days over the philosophical differences between leading with “A” or “The”.  I’ve known others who submit manuscripts with “Title Goes Here” on the front page. 

Marketing departments have a different set of needs,
entirely.  Should a title be serious or funny?   Poetic or straightforward?  To pun or not to pun?*   Basically, they want a title that will capture readers’ attention. 

Like, say, How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf, by Molly Harper.

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf is the story of Mo Wenstein, who has just moved to Alaska from Mississippi.  In the town of Grundy, she finds work in a restaurant kitchen, and meets a surly hunting guide named Cooper Graham.  She’s trying to escape the smothering attention of her hippie parents, and figure out what she really wants from life. He’s a werewolf.

Naked Werewolf 250.jpgThough it takes time for Mo to figure out exactly what makes Cooper so different. That’s one of the book’s main strengths:   its slow and careful set-up. Harper takes her time with her story.   She doesn’t rush anything:   not Mo’s assimilation, nor her emotional growth;  not the relationship that will change her understanding of the world.   The style is humourous and easy, but it’s not silly.   Mo, whose real
name is Moonflower, really does have to come to terms with her past, and deal not just her parents’ behaviour, but also her own.   Cooper needs to get past the trauma he suffered while protecting his Pack.  There’s a blistering attraction between them, but their past damage and current choices means it takes them quite some time to figure out just how to deal with it.

I really liked that, the hesitation, the slow and careful
build-up.   In fact, despite the striking title, there’s very little flirting going on between the main characters.  Flirt is a coy word, a teasing word.  What develops between Mo and Cooper is not without moments of humour, but it’s too
serious to be trifled with.

I also liked the matter-of-fact supernatural elements.  These days, paranormal is the new normal on the Romance shelves.  Writers fill
their worlds with all manner of supernatural mayhem.  Harper’s lycanthropy reads almost like more of a cultural issue.  Like any other woman involved with a man from a different culture, Mo has to learn some new habits and traditions.  I get that: my in-laws are Austrian.  That Cooper is a werewolf complicates their relationship, but honestly, it’s not the most pressing of the problems between them. 

Which is not to say that Harper doesn’t handle the supernatural stuff quite well.  She cut her chops with a paranormal series about  a children’s librarian who is turned into a vampire only because an idiot hunter mistook her for a deer and shot her.  So Harper is familiar with the tropes of the paranormal, and knows both how to use them and when to bend them to her will.

Molly Harper is the author of four previous novels.  A former print journalist and current church secretary, she is also married and the mother of two small children.  She began How to Flirt during an ice storm in Kentucky.  Since her husband is a police captain, he worked pretty much constantly throughout the crisis. For her part, Molly made it through almost a week at her in-laws, with two very young kids, in a house with no power.  So although she has never been to Alaska, she certainly writes with authority when it comes to tough living.  Since the episode produced not just How to Flirt but also a sequel (The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf, which is next on my TBR pile). I, for one, think her suffering was worth it.

But back to the title.  It both lived up to and surpassed my expectations. Most of all, it drew me in.  “Wait…what?” was my thought when I first saw the book.  I had to go in for a closer look.  The title made me pick the novel up, and read the first few pages.  The writing inside made me by the book. 

Note to the Marketing Department:  job well done.

 

*Not.  Thanks.

~~~

Chris Szego would like to go to Alaska (though less for the werewolves than for the whales).

Comments

Leave a Reply





  • Support The Gutter

  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

    ~

    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

    ~

    At Sequart, friend of the Gutter Colin Smith is taking an exhaustive look at the American superhero comics of Mark Millar–and by exhaustive, we mean, “28 Part.”

    ~

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley writes about his past as a soap opera fan and the return of a classic soap opera, The Doctors, and its significance for the genre.

     

    ~

    Action choreographer, director and stunt performer Panna Rittikrai has died. Films Panna worked on, whether as a choreographer, director, producer and/or actor include: Born To Fight / Gerd Ma Lui (1986 and 2004), Tom Yum Goong (2005), Chocolate (2008), Spirited Killer (1994),  Power Kids (2009),  Dynamite Warrior/Khon Fai Bin (2006), Bangkok Knockout (2010) and all three Ong-Bak films (2003, 2008, 2010).  Film Business Asia, The Bangkok Post and Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal have obituaries. City On Fire and Far East Films also remember Panna. Here’s an interview with Panna from Thai Indie.  Panna kicks ass in this tribute video.

    ~

    Actor and singer Elaine Stritch has died. Stritch worked extensively on Broadway, but she also appeared in September (1987), Small Time Crooks (2000), Monster-In-Law (2005), the British television series, Two’s Company3rd Rock From The Sun, My Sister Eileen and 30 Rock. The New York Times Variety and The Detroit Free Press. Saara Dutton remembers Stritch in her piece, “In Praise of Broads.” Here Stritch performs, “Zip” from Pal Joey, “Why Do The Wrong People Travel?” from Sail Away and “I’m Still Here” at the White House. Here she is in a 2008 production of Endgame. And here she is on Theater Talk.

    ~

  • Spilling into Twitter

  • Obsessive?

    Then you might be interested in knowing you can subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

    -------

  • Weekly Notifications

  • What We’re Talking About

  • Thanks To

    No Media Kings hosts this site, and Wordpress autoconstructs it.

  • %d bloggers like this: