Mongrels

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Set in the deep South, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, and surprisingly funny novel that follows an unnamed narrator as he comes of age under the care of his aunt and uncle — who are werewolves. They are a family living on the fringe, struggling to survive in a society that shuns them: living in cars or trailers, moving every couple of months, eating from garbage cans, taking whatever work they can scrounge. Mongrels takes us on a compelling and fascinating journey into this dark and shadowy world, moving fluidly through time to create an unforgettable portrait of a yoy trying to understand his place in the world and in his close-knit family of outcasts. Never has the werewolf been so funny, so bloody, so raw and so real. Jones delivers a smart and innovative novel with heart.

— William Morrow

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reviews : LA Times  |  Tor.com  #1  |  Tor.com #2   |   SciFiNow (UK)  |  LitReactor  |  DreadCentral  |  BookRiot (@2:55)  |  Literary Disco (@23:30) B&N Science Fiction and Fantasy  |  Locus  |  

Project: Black T-Shirt

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The Little Werewolf Novel that Could


Until World War Z, I’d been hearing that same thing about the zombie. And I guess it was kind of true. A lot of fun had been had, no doubt—the bulk of it on film and in the short story—but nobody’d Tolkien’d out the zombie landscape with a story that really sang. Not until Max Brooks applied his bloody pen.

However, this guy above and the public at large saying this about werewolves, it’s always kind of especially hurt. Not because they were wrong, but because, for more years than I think I really have to my name, I’ve been thinking about werewolves. In 1999 or 2000, trying to correct the fact that werewolves didn’t have their Dracula yet, and knowing full well what hubris is—but what other place is there to work from?—I wrote my first werewolf novel, Anubis, My Father, which, on reworking, became Bloodlines. However, in spite of the fact that I built it on the excellent scaffolding of The Galactic Pot-Healer, I kind of missed the mark, so didn’t even send this one out. Because the werewolf mattered too much to me. Nothing less than my absolute best would do.

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Wer

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For a long time I’ve been in a Kirk/Picard situation with myself, regarding Ginger Snaps and The Howling: which do I like best? And, I know, what about An American Werewolf in London, Dog Soldiers, Bad Moon. They’re all good and vital, and contributed important stuff, but for me, it’s always come down to Ginger Snaps or The Howling. And I usually settle on The Howling, as it’s got a much stronger ending (much longer franchise tail as well).

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Werewolf Class

art by Gary Pacheco

My second or third year teaching, somebody caught me in a hallway, asked me my thoughts on how detective fiction’s put together. And, listening to myself answer—of course I’d been reading noir and p.i. and crime and thriller forever—I realized that I only knew detective fiction as a reader, not a writer. And I say ‘only,’ but not to diminish. Rather, to highlight that how I learn about a thing, it’s by doing that thing. So, dissatisfied with my answer in the hall that day, I sat down a couple weeks later, started writing the novel that became Not for Nothing. The way I learn about stuff, it’s to vivisect, sure. But it’s to vivesect with full knowledge that I’m just hollowing out that skin so I can try it on.

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The Promise of Werewolves

Man, where to start. How about with John Mellencamp:

When I was five I walked the fence while grandpa held my hand

“Rain on the Scarecrow” came out in 1985, the year Growing Up Dead in Texas happens. Or, that’s when the events happen. Right around that time I remember walking the fence with my great-granddad, Pop. A hot fence, to keep the cattle out of the ten acres my grandma’s house was (and is) on. And I knew it was hot by then, of course; I’d been zapped a few times, sneaking out there to chase whatever animals I could scare up. But still, Pop, he held his hand out to me, a particularly evil glimmer in his eyes, a smile ghosting the corners of his mouth up — he had to have been at least eighty, then — and I took his hand, and he smiled, clamped his other hand onto the fence, shooting that jolt across to me. And then we did it again and again, because it was so fun.

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A Dog-like Individual: on Teen Wolf

teen wolf dude

Adolescence and lycanthropy are the chocolate and peanut butter of the horror world. All this strange body hair, an insatiable appetite, late hours,  sleeping at all the wrong times, nights you can’t really remember, can only piece together flashes of. A pretty sincere distrust of what are seeming to be your instincts, and everybody looking at you like they know, so that you feel pressured to only hang out with your pack, with who you can trust, those who share your affliction. Uncontrollable drooling. Your body’s asserting itself, reminding you that you’re an animal. So, the same way that we tell ourselves ourselves zombie stories to deal with the looming specter of our own mortality, we’ve been telling ourselves werewolf stories to try to navigate our own various liminal states. Werewolf stories poke and prod at the boundaries of what it means to be human, what it means to change, and, after the crib, where we change the most, that’s high school, isn’t it? It’s where we figure out who we are, who we don’t want to be.

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