Shapeshifter questions and a writing question answered

Questions from Forum, Twitter, Face Book, and My Space:

1. How does Mowgli Syndrome work? This was first mentioned in DANSE MACABRE, but for those who are not that far in the books or just to refresh the memory, Mowgli Syndrome is a genetic birth defect in Anita’s world. It happens when a human woman that does not shapeshift (because technically shapeshifters are still human) has sex with a shapeshifter while he’s in half man, half beast form. There is a chance that any baby conceived during that kind of sex could have a mixture of human and animal DNA. This does not make them into a born shifter. This makes them a hybrid and some pretty terrible things can ocurr. First, the baby can develop at the speed of the animal in question which with leopards is a matter of weeks, not months. So a human woman can go from barely knowing she’s pregnant to being so pregnant you can’t get a legal abortion. There are no recorded cases of a baby born with Mowgli’s syndrome living for very long. There are cases where the mother dies during the pregnancy or birth. Her body just can’t take the rapid changes of a pregnancy shortened by half, or more. Also the woman’s body can begin to see the baby’s DNA as an intruder just like a rejected transplant organ, or a mother who has a reaction to the RH factor in her baby’s blood. (Oh, yeah, if you are say A, or any other blood type, its the RH factor that matters in this, say you’re negative, but your baby is A positive, you have a chance of your body reacting really badly to it. It’s usually a second pregnancy after a first baby that had the opposite RH factor so the mother’s body is primed to go, nope that’s not our blood type we need to get rid of it.) I’m told they have more treatments for this problem than they did when I was pregnant, because I was sick enough my doctor was trying to find out what was wrong so I got to find out some rather exotic potential problems.

I figured that if a real pregnancy could begin attacking the fetus just because of RH incompatibility, or a variety of other things, then what would happen if you put DNA that was truly different from the mother’s in her body. If you could manage to get a baby and mother alive and whole through a pregnancy with this genetic problem then you’d end up not with a baby shapeshifter, but with something that was neither human nor animal, but a mixture, and not that more elegant mixture of the leopardman, or wolfman, form. My biology degree always helps me make my world more real, and make it more terrorfying. As a woman, the thought that something can go wrong with the baby you’re carrying is one of the top fears. I saw enough in college classes that scared me when I got pregnant. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But during this book with Anita I did more research into potential problems and let me say not research to be done while you are pregnant. Way too scary.

Oh, and before someone asks, having sex with a wereanimal in full human form does not run the risk of Mowgli Syndrome. Apparently in human form they are, well, human for DNA purposes. We talk about their inability to pass a blood test, but no one ever talks about genetic testing for lycanthropy. And, yes, I know that lycanthropy technically is wolf based, but it’s actually a word in medical circles, so I made the choice that it would be used to cover the larger group. Yes, there are other words for it, and I’m sure in Anita’s world there are words for individual animal strains for it, but they wouldn’t be commonly used.

2. What then about the weretigers? We learned in SKIN TRADE they are the exception to a lot of shapeshifter rules. The weretigers are shapeshifters from birth, which is also unique, but most only shift for the first time at puberty. There are weretigers that are survivors of attacks just like most shapeshifters, but the weretiger clans look down on them as lesser beings. They consider any of their people that would attack a human and contaminate them to have committed one of their greatest crimes. They are the only known group in Anita’s world where the female shapeshifters can actually carry to term rather than lose the baby during the sometimes violent changes of shape changing. Also, the baby inside a regular shapeshifter is human when the mother shifts to animal form the baby doesn’t shift with her and you lose the baby that way. Would the baby born of a shapeshifter mother and a human father have Mowgli syndrome? Don’t know, it’s never been successful done in Anita’s world. See earlier probelms.

The weretigeress’s husband, or mate, calms her during the pregnancy and actually keeps her from changing form until after the baby is born. This is only possible if your mate is powerful enough to do the metaphysics, but most males are trained from an early age to do this trick, so most can. I believe it’s something that other wereanimals could learn how to do, but we haven’t seen anyone practice long enough to try. I’m planning on the weretigers that came home from Vegas with Anita to try and teach other animal groups how to do that.

3. No, I have never written a book by hand then typed it into a computer. The first book I ever wrote was done on a computer and all the others have followed suit. My first short stories were by hand, but I was twelve. Once I learned to type my short stories were done on a typewriter. God, carbon paper and white out. I love writing on computers it is so much easier to make copies, to change mistakes, you name it, it is easier on a computer.

Posted by at 8:48:51 am on July 24, 2009

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