Clothing in the paranormal world of shape shifters
Paranormal worlds are fun to create, but one of the biggest issues writers have to deal with when writing about were-animals is the clothing problem. Traditionally, were-animals remove their clothes, or shed their skins if they are animals changing to humans, in order to accommodate their human/animal shifts. In the case of some, like selkies (seals who become humans), they also have to have their clothes (or skins) back in order to change back to humans.
Having to remove clothing before shifting into animals can be advantageous when the author wants to get the couple together, naked. Needing one’s clothing to return to human form can also create humorous situations, especially when the shifter is trying to hide why they are running around in their birthday suits.
When we began to develop our world of shape shifters, we had to address the clothing issue, in more than one way. Not only do our shifters become animals, but they can take other human forms, too. So, clothing created an additional challenge for us. Should we take the traditional route and have the shifters hide their clothes before becoming animals? Or should we just let their clothing disappear and reappear without explanation?
After bouncing several ideas off each other we decided that we would utilize the magic of the magical bloodstone ring, that is primarily responsible for the shape shifting in our world, to our advantage when addressing clothing issues, with a few twists. The magic in the ring would allow an animal shift to absorb the wearer’s clothing. The ring would become an integral invisible part of the animal, as would anything else on or in the shifter’s body or clothing. Except for the ring’s magic, nothing on his human form would be accessible to the shifter when he was in animal form. This rule allowed the shifter to be able to blend rapidly into the animal or human world and thus keep the action scenes moving. Unfortunately, this meant no humorous birthday suit scenarios or convenient naked scenes, but that was okay, since we decided to make the human shifting follow different rules.
When our characters shift from male to female, their clothing does not change. This rule has created its own set of problems. We have to be careful that we choose appropriate clothing when our characters are going to shift. A rapid exchange of clothes had to be written in once scene when one shifter mimicked another shifter and was about to be caught. We also had a few interesting male /female shifting scenarios created by this rule, especially when a male shifter ends up in decidedly female clothes. It’s not often that you see a male walking down the street in a dress, or tottering on high heels. Fortunately, with the unisex nature of clothing today, this shifting rule hasn’t created a huge problem for us the writers.
However, it did create a conundrum for the police and our main characters in our first book The Promised One. In this story a shape shifter is murdered and returns to the natural persona: a man. The problem was he had been shifted into a smaller female whose dress did not fit will over his muscular male body. Trying to keep the police from drawing the wrong conclusions keeps the main characters busy coming up with plausible explanations for a man in a dress that is too small for him.
The following is the excerpt from The Promised One that points out the issue:
The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”
With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.
“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.
Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.
He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.
The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.
A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.
Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?
Terrified, Shaw fled.
The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”
As you can see the change can be quite startling when not expected. Shape shifters can have a rather costly garment expense unless they are careful. Following are the covers and back cover blurbs of the books in our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.
In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.
Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.
Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.
When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.
The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.
Owen Todd Jordan Riley has a secret. He’s a shape shifter who has been hunting and killing his own kind. To him the only good shifter is a dead shifter. Revenge for the death of a friend motivates him, and nothing stands in his way . . . except Katrina Romanovski, the woman he is falling in love with.
Deputy coroner Katrina Romanovski has a secret, too. She hunts and kills paranormal beings like Owen. At least she did. When she rescues Owen from an attack by a werebear she is thrust back into the world she thought she’d left. Determined to find out what Owen knows about the bear, she begins a relationship meant to collect information. What she gets is something quite different-love with a man she suspects of murder. Can she reconcile his deception and murderous revenge spree and find a way to redeem him? Or will she condemn him for the same things she has done and walk away from love?
When mercenary soldier Michael Corritore answers a desperate call from an ex-military buddy, he finds himself in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient war between two shape shifter factions, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.
Shape shifter Fiona Kayler will do anything to keep the shipping company her father left her, including getting in bed with the enemy. But when she believes the man trying to steal her company is involved with kidnapping her nephew, she must choose between family, fortune, and love. The problem is … she wants all three.
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We are a husband and wife writing team whose pen name is C.D. Hersh.
We’ve written separately since we were teenagers and discovered our unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, we believe in true love and happily ever after. Which is why we write it!
Together we have co-authored a paranormal romance series The Turning Stone Chronicles. Current books available in the series:
The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)
Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)
Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)
The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)
And of course our contemporary novella Kissing Santa which is part of Sizzle in the Snow: Soulmate Christmas Anthology
You can connect with and follow us at our website http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/