Were- is one half of an already-funded Kickstarter campaign by Joshua Palmatier’s anthology press Zombies Need Brains. The other half, Alien Artifacts, has a clear subject, but as its weird punctuation implies, Were- has a catch. It’s a were-creature anthology with only one rule: no werewolves allowed.
We’ve all read hundreds of stories about werewolves . . . but what about the less famous of the were-clans—the werelions, wereducks, and wereferns? These underrepresented families need to come out of the dark, full moon or not! From light and humorous to dark and serious, this anthology will explore other varieties of were-creatures and tell their stories. No werewolves allowed! Edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each. The anthology will include short stories by: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Phyllis Ames, Patricia Bray, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Seanan McGuire, and Jean Marie Ward. All other slots aside from the named authors will be filled by the open call for submissions following the successful completion of the Kickstarter.
There are two reasons that I’m sharing a link to an explicitly werewolf-free anthology on my werewolf-centric site. First, my initial research shows that Joshua Palmatier knows what he’s doing. ZNB has already published two successful titles, and with his $10,000 goal exceeded and two weeks left to go, Were- and Alien Artifacts seem like sure things. Also, he’s the kind of Kickstarter person who backs more projects than he starts, which to me is the mark of a community-minded person who just wants to see cool shit get made.
Second: werewolves are great, but it’s possible to over-use them.
Before you take up your pitchforks and torches, ask yourself, how many stories, movies or comics have you seen where the werewolf antagonist could be substituted with any other monster without significantly altering the narrative? I can immediately think of three as I sit here on the train, and they’re all works I really enjoyed.
Despite my obvious bias, I don’t think a storyteller should necessarily pull the werewolf lever unless the plot could benefit from a uniquely (and not always traditional) lycanthropic aspect – a full moon, lupine features, an allergy to silver, veterinarians and buttoned-up shirts. As a stand-in for “generic monster”, the werewolf is just as capable as any other beast, but it’s nice to see other human-animal hybrids get some exposure. Bring on the were-rats!