Oct 20, 2013

Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf: Day 3

Dont Look Behind 
the Bookshelf
Welcome to Day 3 of Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf, my bookish beasts. (You can see yesterday's post here.) Please don't mind all the dust, webs, bones, blood, and unmentionables, for those are just some of the things that reside behind bookshelves. Now find a place to sit (not near the grate; I can't guarantee your partial safety if you do), and get ready to howl for today's post and author! Wolfmen and wolfettes, bow down to the moon for...


Emily is the author of a number of novels, including her latest release, Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl. The novel, about a girl-turned-werewolf who's in an all-girl band, is just perfect for Halloween! So please perk up an ear (or two) and get those tails wagging as Emily discusses her:

Top Ten Female Monsters

How many female monsters can you name? Pop culture often seems to skip over women and girls when it comes to powerful figures--both good and evil. It’s especially common for the bad guys to be, well, guys. Isn’t it? We gals are just as capable of being fierce and evil. Anyone who’s survived high school knows that!

That’s why I decided to make Sam Lee, the main character in my new novel Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, a monstrous girl. Sam’s an attention-phobic, gifted musician who gets bitten by a giant dog in New York City’s Central Park, and starts to change… In other words, her normal teen girl rage-iness and fears (in other words, the natural state of all teens) have a physical manifestation.

When I was creating Sam’s character, I tried to come up with the least likely person to wolf out and develop serious animalistic tendencies. Then I made her get hairy, grow claws and teeth, hunt and fight just as ferociously as the male werewolves she encounters. And it was so much fun!

To celebrate my lovely wolf girl, I’ve come up with a list of fearsome and powerful female figures in myths and legends. Here they are:

1. Medusa was a beautiful winged daughter of Ancient Greek sea gods. What happened to make her into the monster we all know has been explained in different ways. In one version of the story, she had either had sex with or was raped by Poseidon (god of the sea) in a temple of Athena’s, provoking the powerful goddess of wisdom to curse her. Another version says she was so incredibly vain that she annoyed Athena into turning her beautiful locks into pig-headed serpents. Either way, a single look at her face turned men into stone statues. It turned out Athena’s hatred was the long-smoldering kind. She later sent the hero Perseus to kill Medusa, which he was able to do by only looking at her reflection while he was chopping off her head.

2. Baba Yaga is a fabulous trickster figure from Eastern European folklore. Sometimes depicted as a hideous old crone, other times as a wise grandmother, she flew around on a mortar and pestle (that stone bowl used to grind spices), had three horsemen for servants, and lived in a hut perched on chicken legs that would turn around to stop unwanted visitors from entering. She loved to riddle and test people. She’d eat them if they were stupid and selfish, and reward them if they were clever and good. The only person she seemed to be able to stand for any length of time was Vasilisa, a brave and beautiful girl who was “pure of heart,” and lived with Baba Yaga deep in the forest.

3. Harpies were hybrid bird-women who were featured prominently in several ancient Greek myths. They lived in a flock--girl power!--and loved to torment people. They sometimes called Zeus’s “hounds,” because they did his bidding. Like crows, they were adept robbers who liked to snatch things and fly away, so they were often blamed for sudden disappearances and thefts. Sometimes their human upper bodies are portrayed as lovely maidens and other times deformed crones. They were known for stealing a king’s food over and over for eternity, snatching away valued items from gods and mortals, and causing sudden wind storms.

4. The Banshee was a fairy spirit from Gaelic mythology who was considered a terrifying omen that a violent death was about to occur. Irish legends tell of a wailing and keening woman who would only appear just before someone died. Scottish ones feature a washerwoman who would clean warriors’ clothes and armor beside battlefields. Some ultra-important families even had their own personal banshees. Seriously! Like other monstrous women, banshees were portrayed in a multitude of ways: an ugly hag, a stunningly beautiful woman, and even a green-skinned forest fairy.

5. The Succubus is the ultimate seductress, a female demon who tempts men in their dreams. She seduces people and feeds on lust, like a vampire does on blood, until she drains them of their life forces. Succubi have different names in cultures across the world. In Arabian myths, she’s Qarinah, who can take the form of a household pet. In Indian, she’s Mohini, a lovely woman who wears a white saree and is known to haunt lonely roads. Whatever she’s called, she has the power to cause men to slip into comas or sleep paralysis from which they never awaken.

6. Sirens are similar to succubi, harpies, and also mermaids. From the waist up, they look like women, and from the waist down they’re birds or fish. They lure men to their deaths by singing so beautifully that it’s impossible not to fall in love. First appearing in ancient Greek mythology, the sirens were gorgeous femme fatales who were sent to find their friend Persephone, who’d been kidnapped by the god of the dead. When they failed in their quest, Persephone’s grief-stricken mother Demeter cursed them. They’re known for causing shipwrecks and drowning.

7. Scylla is half-woman, half-sea monster. She was once a regular girl, but she was transformed by a jealous sorceress named Circe (from ancient Greek myths) who loved Scylla’s father (a river god) and wanted his attention all to herself. One day, while Scylla was bathing in the water, Circe sneaked up and turned her into a hideous monster with many gruesome heads, tentacles for legs, and a tail! Some versions of the story say she was rescued by her father and turned back into a girl, but others say she terrorizes people to this day, smashing ships on rocks and devouring men.

8. Lilith is a figure in Wiccan mythologies who comes from the Book of Genesis. She’s either Adam’s twin sister or his first wife (yes, that Adam), created by God not from his rib, but from the Earth itself. She demands equality, and when she fails to get it, takes off and sleeps with Satan. Adam remarried the subservient Eve. Lilith is also sometimes depicted as a tree goddess or a demon queen who comes out at night to seduce men and kidnap/kill newborn boys.

9. Kitsune are fox women in Japanese and Chinese folklore, who are more mischievous than downright evil. They can even fall in love with humans and use their powers for good. They qualify for this list because they’re shapeshifters and wield magic. Said to be foxes who turn human temporarily in order to mate with or marry men, they’ve been known to produce offspring that are sometimes children and sometimes fox pups. They’re highly intelligent and sometimes find joy in tricking people, but don’t normally hurt them.

10. The Sphinx is female in some stories and male in others. I’ve decided to include her on this list anyhow, because she makes a lot of appearances around the world. The most popular statues of her have the head of a human, wings of a bird, and legs of a lion. But sometimes it’s a different combination. She’s featured in Egyptian, Burmese, Indian, Turkish, Philipino, Sri Lankan, and Greek folklore, often guarding temples or tombs. Her whole thing is to give people who want to enter the tomb an impossible riddle, and when they can’t solve it, she kills them. Pretty merciless.

Now, imagine if these women were to form a superhero team? They’d totally kick ass!

So You're a Wolf...
Title: Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl
Author: Emily Pohl-Weary
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Publishing Date: September 24, 2013
Pages: 217
Goodreads Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Sometimes Living in the Big Apple Really Bites!

Eighteen-year-old rock star Sam Lee isn't like other girls. She's the super-talented bass player and songwriter for an all-girl indie band and an incurable loner. Then one night after a concert in Central Park, she's attacked by a wild dog. 

Suddenly, this long-time vegetarian is craving meat--the bloodier, the better. Sam finds herself with an unbelievable secret and no one she trusts to share it. And so begin the endless lies to cover up the hairy truth... 

When a new girl gang appears in the city--with claws and paws--Sam suspects there's a connection to her own inner beast. Trapped in a tug-of-war between her animal and human selves, forced to choose between the guy who sparked her carnal appetite and the one who makes her feel like a normal teenage girl, Sam has to unravel the mysteries of the werewolf world before her bandmates, her mother, and the media catch up to her.

The wolves are howling
Slick, stylish fun and an absolute kick to read! Lesley Livingston, author of the Wondrous Strange Trilogy
An absolutely fabulous new young adult novel. The story is fast and superbly told, and the characters are likable and believable. Cory Doctorow, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, on Boing Boing
At last, teen girls have their own werewolf wish fulfillment fantasy. Sam is cool, she's in a band, and yeah, she's way foxy. Nalo Hopkinson, author of BROWN GIRL IN THE RING and THE CHAOS
The leader of the Pack
Emily Pohl-Weaery is an award-winning author who has written five previous books, including novels, poetry, comics, and a biography of her sci-fi-writing grandmother, Judith Merril. Emily also started the Toronto Street Writers, a free writing group for inner-city youth in the neighborhood where she grew up. 

Can You Handle More Howling?
I hope you enjoyed today's post with Emily Pohl-Weary! Maybe it inspired you to release your inner wolf? Don't forget to visit Emily's sites and check out Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl--it might not be your ordinary book.

Have you spent enough time behind the bookshelf yet? If not, be sure to come back tomorrow for another day of Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf! The author may be a little...mad.


  1. I loved this list. So many cool women villains out there to pick from! Also this book sounds awesome, I had to go out and add it to my Goodreads list right away. It sounds campy and creepy. How can you not love that combo!


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