Thursday, 9 January 2014

Crosswinds by Lynne Cantwell

Where’s the Sexy Werewolf?
By Lynne Cantwell

I’m having a hard time classifying my latest novel.

I had the same problem with the Pipe Woman Chronicles. I began the first book, Seized, with the intention of writing an urban fantasy. And so I pegged those five books as urban fantasy/paranormal romance – and certainly the series has some of the necessary tropes: a kickass woman as first-person narrator and an urban setting, with a number of inexplicable occurrences, a few shapeshifters, and a romance. But no vampires, no werewolves, and no fae. Instead, I brought in a bunch of Native American mythology and several pantheons of pagan gods. It’s definitely fantasy, and it’s got that Native American thing going for it. But…gods? How do you classify gods?

Now I’m writing a sort of spin-off series called Land, Sea, Sky, and I’m having the same problem. And to make things worse, the first book, Crosswind, doesn’t even have a shapeshifter. Well, unless you count Loki – but he only appears in a couple of scenes. Instead, I’ve got three reluctant human heroes, drafted by two goddesses and a god, to stand up to a being named Lucifer who wants to be a god. Yeah, that Lucifer. Needless to say, the fate of the world is in balance.

But yeah – no vampires, no werewolves, and no fae. Just…gods.

Why would I do this? It’s because of what I find scary about modern life. Let’s take a moment to go back to the literary antecedents of these scary critters that populate paranormal romance today, and talk about how they’ve changed.

It’s widely recognized that Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t just about vampires. The vampire was simply a convenient vehicle for Stoker to write about Victorian-era sexual repression. The foreign stranger comes uninvited into your home, violates your chaste woman, and steals her away from you – you get the picture. It’s all about illicit sex and women as property – highly valued property, but property nonetheless. So now, today, when readers are no longer titillated by a little illicit sex, you’ve got to go farther – to vampires who aren’t monsters. Today’s vampires literally seduce their victims before sticking in their, uh, fangs. And they have consciences. They’re really kind of okay guys, except with a dietary quirk and an aversion to sunlight (and some of them don’t even have that).

Same with werewolves, kind of. In the original stories, werewolves were tormented beings who struggled with their animal natures. They played on the classic struggle between man’s natural state, which was bad, and modern civilization, which was good. It was only a matter of time (and a few decades) before somebody decided civilization wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. So now we have stories of werewolves with six-pack abs and the women who love them.

And about the fae. Legend says the Tuatha de Danaan were a race of beings who defeated two other races, the Fir Bolg and the Fomorians, to conquer Ireland. They were, in turn, conquered by the Gaelic people and disappeared “under the hill,” becoming known as the Sidhe or the “fair folk” – fairies. The leprechaun was once Lugh, king of the Tuatha de Danaan and a guy who could literally do anything. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. No wonder the fae are so cranky now.

So what’s scary in our modern world? Not sex, certainly, and not getting in touch with our animal natures. What scares me, personally, is that whole industries are designed to keep us afraid: of other cultures, of other religions, of somebody taking all our stuff. The captains of these industries are making a lot of money by scaring us, and then inventing things for us to buy that give us a false sense of security – false, because there was nothing to be scared of in the first place.

In Crosswind, Tess, Sue, and Darrell take up the fight against the fear-mongers in Washington, D.C. They have otherworldly help in the shape of the gods, and yes, there’s sex. But no vampires and no werewolves, 

So is Crosswind urban fantasy? Paranormal romance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Life on Earth is much improved since the pagan gods’ return. As conflict eases around the world, attention — and money — has turned to more humanitarian goals: improving the lives of the First Nations peoples and others who were repressed for thousands of years.

But the former ruling class – the military, religious, and corporate leaders who profited under the old system — are about to stage a last-ditch effort to bring their good times back.

The gods refuse to start a new war against those men, because that would make them no better than Their opponents. Instead, They have drafted three humans to help Them. Together, Tess, Sue and Darrell must find a way past their own flaws to ensure the gods’ peace will not be destroyed.
Genre – Urban Fantasy
Pages – approx 275 (68K words)
Published November 20th 


Lynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, “I could do that.” The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master’s degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.  

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