Happy Howloween! #Werewolf Lore & Romance #PNR

For your Happy Howloween reading pleasure, I’ve delved into my research notes for a little werewolf lore I discovered while writing my paranormal romance, Ilona’s Wolf.

When I was a kid, werewolves were villains of horror movies, not heroes in romance novels, so why the change? I wonder if it has something to do with restoring wolves to wild areas, like Yellowstone Park, and the resulting awareness of these beautiful, magnificent animals.

Grey Wolf by birch tree

Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) By Birch Tree, Copyright: gkuchera

Yes, they are predators, but they have proven immensely useful in controlling the deer population and in some areas the ecosystem has benefited from the re-introduction of the wolves.

But back in the Middle Ages and earlier, people were terrified of wolves and of the idea that some humans could transform themselves into wolves and attack. Hence, the popularity of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, inspiration for Ilona’s Wolf. Wolves were hunted relentlessly in Europe and the British Isles. Some of the ancient beliefs are werewolves are…

Lycanthropy is the term for transforming from man to wolf and it dates back to Roman times, probably no surprise since the brothers who supposedly founded Rome, Romulus and Remus, were said to have been suckled by a she-wolf, a lupa, as babes.

During the Middle Ages, people believed that witches practiced lycanthropy. Alternately, witches were charges with riding werwolves during their rituals, and thus were werewolves associated with magic, a fact I took advantage of in Ilona’s Wolf.

We’ve all heard of the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries, but did you know there were also werewolf hunts in the same time period? In France, there were over 30,000 cases of supposed werewolves. Some were executed; others confined due to insanity. For more information and possible real causes of werewolf-like symptoms, see http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/werewolf5.htm.

Werewolf means “man-wolf” though there are varying theories of the evolution of the term. In Old English, the word wer(e) meant man and not in the general, human sense. In Norse, the term varg had two meanings: a wolf or a godless man. Each country had a different term. In France, werewolves are loup-garou; in Spanish hombre lobo; and in Italy lupo mannaro. And there are many others.

In the Middle Ages, people believed that the werewolves hair grew inward and the skin reversed during transformation. Talk about itching under the skin! I don’t think I’d like that.

Werewolves are known to have superior strength, nocturnal vision and sense of smell, just like real canines. In addition, thanks to the transformations undergone, they are immune from aging, and thus nearly immortal, except when in their more vulnerable human form. My hero, Sir Rolf, usually shifts into wolf form when danger threatens.

The notion that werewolves transform at the full moon is attributed to medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and is now an almost immutable fact of werewolf lore. I chose to ignore it for my book in favor of letting my hero shift at will. (Much more useful, plot-wise.)

Ilona's WolfBlurb for Ilona’s Wolf:

Imagine a world filled with magic, a tormented knight, a damsel in distress, an evil sorcerer…

While picking herbs in the woods, Princess Ilona is rescued from a woodsman by a wolf. When the creature licks her wounds, it is suddenly transformed into a man. A very handsome, very naked man who makes passionate love to her in a glade.

Cursed by an evil wizard, Rolf was trapped in wolf form until he tasted the blood of a royal. Now he must escort the princess on a hazardous journey back to the castle to stop an ill-fated wedding.

Passion flares between them, but both know there is no future for Ilona and her werewolf. Or is there? In a world where magic and passion combine, anything may be possible.

Available for only 99 cents from: Amazon Kindle Store, BN/Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.

Click here and scroll down to read an excerpt.

Happy Howloween!


Ahoy! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Talk Like a Pirate Day bannerSept. 19 is the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day, so prepare to be boarded, or at least to hear Arrr! and Avast Me Hearties! and other pirate sayings.

Eighteenth century pirates now seem like colorful, fun-loving blokes, but historically speaking, the facts are much more serious. So I’m posting an article I wrote on the subject. And if you’re interested in my pirate romance, check out Marooned.

Marooned coverTreacherous Beauty: Piracy in the Bahamas, by Lyndi Lamont

No one can dispute the tropical beauty of the Bahama Islands, but the early history of the islands is filled with danger and treachery.

In 1492 the islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus who claimed them for Spain. Later Spaniards enslaved the native Lucayan people and transported them to work the gold and silver mines in Cuba and Hispaniola.

By the time the British arrived in the late 1670’s, the islands were no longer inhabited. A group of colonists settled on the island of Eleuthera, and a few moved on to New Providence, but most of the islands were left unsettled and provided a haven for pirates and privateers. The islands were close to the major trade routes and New Providence Island had a natural harbor that afforded a safe anchorage in which to hide. With its shallow waters and over 700 islands, the Bahamas provided a perfect environment for pirates to maneuver. Many hid their plunder in the islands’ limestone caverns.

Grand Bahama was considered perilous because of the reefs surrounding it. Pirates would chase merchant ships into the shallows where they foundered on the reefs and were easily plundered. In fact, “wrecking” remained a local occupation for some time. The inhabitants placed a lantern to lure ships close to shore so they could scavenge its cargo.

The resort city of Nassau, on New Providence Island, became notorious as a pirate haven. By 1710 the harbor was filled with ships, some of them rotting hulks that were destroyed after being emptied of their cargo. Contemporary accounts describe it as a ramshackle shanty town with no permanent buildings, just a dilapidated fort, a few wood huts, and a disreputable tent city where pirates could gamble away their plunder, get drunk, or get laid.

The islands were home to famous pirates such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, Calico Jack Rackham, and the infamous female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who were members of his crew.

Blackbeard’s legend lives on as the most ferocious of pirates. A tall man, he had wild eyes, long, matted black hair and a matching beard which he braided. Before battle, he twisted pieces of fuse into his hair and lit them. With his face surrounded by smoke he was a fearsome sight. Teach was chosen as magistrate of what the pirates called their Privateers’ Republic, but in 1718 the British government sent Royal Governor Woodes Rogers, a former privateer, to the islands to end piracy in the Bahamas. Blackbeard was at sea at the time, so he made the Carolinas his main base until his death in November 1718 at the hands of the British navy. The leader of the British expedition, First Lieutenant Robert Maynard, later said that Blackbeard didn’t fall until he’d received at least five gunshots and twenty sword wounds. Blackbeard’s head was severed, though whether it happened during battle or afterward is not clear, and hung from the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop to prove that the feared pirate was truly dead.

Calico Jack and Anne Bonny met in New Providence where he persuaded her to don men’s clothing and join him on his ship. (Women were banned from most pirate ships, hence the disguise.) Mary Read, who also dressed as a man, was on board, too. The two women became friends and were known to be fierce fighters. When Woodes Rogers’ men attacked Rackham’s ship in 1720, most of the crew were drunk, except for the two women who fought bravely. The entire crew was captured, tried in Jamaica and sentenced to death. Jack was hanged but the two women “pleaded their bellies”. Because of their pregnancies, the women were not sentenced to death. Mary died in jail of fever before giving birth. Anne’s fate is unknown, but there are rumors that she was eventually released and returned to her home in the Carolinas.

Woodes Rogers was successful in his attempt to end piracy in the Bahamas. In fact, immediately upon his arrival, he was met by a large group of pirates eager to swear loyalty to the crown in exchange for a pardon. Rogers eventually pardoned about 600 pirates. The hard cases like Calico Jack and Blackbeard were chased down and brought to justice.

By 1720 the Golden Age of Piracy was coming to an end. But like the beauty of the islands, tales of the daring pirates live on in legend.

© 2005 by Linda McLaughlin