Last night I received a truly wonderful gift from a dear friend. David is a professor and in-line with that career choice, he has unsurpassed research skills and a great passion for exploring archives. While doing independent research he decided to investigate the history of women writing werewolf stories. He had stumbled onto this track by reading the letter sections of original Sci-Fi and Fantasy magazines from the 1920s through the 60s. In these letters, he learned of a writer named Greye La Spina who wrote a pulp story called “Invaders from the Dark.” Written in 1925, the story tells the tale of a seductive white werewolf woman who shakes up a small town, while a female occultist tries to stop her. I’ve just barely started it, but it’s pulp-tastic already.
Invigorated by this search, darling David kept digging and found a predecessor of La Spina named Clemence Housman, a suffragette who published “The Werewolf” in 1896. This story, too, features a female werewolf- a rough and tumble, gorgeous, fair wilderness woman who enraptures a hamlet.
Digging deeper, David asked the true experts of the fields of speculative fiction and discovers what most consider to be the oldest werewolf tale written by a woman- a medieval story written by Marie de France in the 12th century. I was dumbfounded when I learned that there was a woman writing monster stories and publishing under her own name in the 12 century. While this story features a male werewolf instead of female, the female character is no shrinking violet. The wife of the eponymous werewolf wants to take a lover while her husband roams the forest as a beast, so she concocts a plan to keep her husband in wolf form forever.
I knew nothing of the canon or the history of werewolf stories when I wrote Inner Moonlight, and I wanted it that way. I wanted to see what would come straight from me, without any outside influence. Now, though, that I’ve gotten a good sense of my writing and my imagination, I’m thrilled to know that there is a historical precedent for what I’ve done.
These books plus the wonderful story of research and treasure-hunting that went with them, was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It put me in touch with a noble history of kick-ass women writers who wrote about the fantastical beast. I feel so honored to be part of a lineage that includes a contemporary of Chaucer, a suffragette, and a dirty-minded pulp goddess from the ’20s. I hope I can carry the torch well.