Tuesday 17 May 2011

Why There are Werewolves in Cambridge

Werewolves.  Creatures of the id; a metaphor for our darkest desires.  They prowl around the lonely forests of middle Europe; they skulk in the darkened alleyways of nameless cities.  And sometimes they pop along to a Cambridge College and take a turn around Main Court.


Perhaps the hallowed halls of an ancient university aren't the most obvious places to go looking for ravening beasts.  Then again, thinking back to some of the public schoolboys I used to know...

Ahem.  Getting back on track: why did I set Camwolf, my tale of dark desires and inhuman creatures, in Cambridge?

Part of it, obviously, is that I love the place.  I can remember, in my first term as a student, cycling around the old buildings just thinking how incredibly lucky I was to be there.
But the other reason is the very contradiction of the idyllic surroundings housing some very sinister goings-on.  Still waters run deep, as they say.  (If that's the case, it's a wonder Cambridge punt poles don't have to be fifty feet long.)  It's the same reasoning behind hugely popular (and recently controversial) TV show Midsomer Murders, which features beautiful, genteel English country villages with a far worse crime rate than any of our inner cities.
Of course, a recognition that quaint, rural settings may hide a multitude of sins is nothing new.  Ann Radcliffe, in books such as The Mysteries of Udolpho, which was famously parodied by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, more-or-less equated naturally beautiful surroundings with Gothic horror.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stated it explicitly:

It is my belief Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside. 
-       Sherlock Holmes, in The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Indeed, there's now a whole genre of "cosy" thrillers, from Agatha Christie's Miss Marples to Charlie Cochrane's Cambridge Fellows series, where the settings are for the most part, rural, the characters, well-mannered—and the crimes no less dark than any city might dubiously boast.

It seems we all love to think that, under the surface, things might just not be what they seem...


Camwolf, by JLMerrow
Now available in e-book from Samhain Publishing, or on Kindle.

To save his lover, he must become his own worst nightmare.

Dr. Nick Sewell. Non-conformist. Werewolf. The first puts him at odds with his colleagues’ idea of how an All Saints College lecturer should behave. The second, bestowed upon him by an ex-boyfriend, puts him at odds with himself.

There’s his tendency to change into a wolf on the full moon. And his visceral attraction to Julian Lauder, a troubled young German student. Despite his determination not to act on his desire, Nick’s brutal response to seeing Julian with another man frightens them both. At first.

Then Nick learns that Julian is not only a naturally submissive werewolf, but one who has learned better how to deal with just being a werewolf. That explains the attraction, but it doesn’t make it any easier when the tables are turned, and Julian—once the student—is now teaching Nick…who still isn’t happy about conforming to the “werewolf way”.

Meanwhile, reports of a strange wolf stalking the town barely register on Nick’s radar—until Julian disappears. Accusing eyes—both wolf and human—are turned toward Nick. Even with the help of friends, hope is growing as cold as the kidnapper’s trail. Unless Nick gives free rein to the wolf’s inhuman power…  
Warning: Contains hot outdoor sex, alliterative insults, allusions to abuse, and really awful sherry.


Barbara Elsborg said...

Werewolves in Cambridge? Yes please. I suspect they'd hover around Tatties. Oh how I miss going there for their vegetarian sausage sandwich - darn it, given it away that I'm not a werewolf. But this sounds fun, JL!!

JL Merrow said...

LOL! Yes, I suspect it must be quite hard to be a vegetarian and a werewolf! ;)
Glad you liked the sound of it!