Perspectives on Shapeshifters

Just last week my itty bitty micro-press put out the third volume of our Triskaidekaphilia (love of the number 13) anthology series. This series is meant to explore the darker sides of romance. Each volume is released on Friday the 13th and I’m hoping there will eventually be 13 of them 🙂

Transformed, edited by Charlie Watson, is filled with romantic shapeshifter stories. I thought Charlie put together a really strong anthology, and I’m proud to share it with the world. I’m also happy to share this guest post from her with you. I think it offers some interesting insight into the production of this collection 🙂

Perspectives on Shapeshifters

Charlie Watson

Hello Everyone! My name is Charlie Watson and I’m the editor of Transformed. As this release marks my first foray into the wide world of publishing outside of an academic setting, I am obviously going through the grab bag of emotion—I’m terrified, of course, due to the usual fear of sharing any work publically; guilty, oddly enough, that I haven’t been doing enough social media promotion; and most importantly, I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of authors. I’m also unendingly grateful for the chance to work with the minds behind Pen and Kink publishing. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I agreed to edit Transformed, which probably isn’t the best thing to admit, but hey! Here we are on the other side, and I have a neat new perspective on things.

I was involved in the production of an anthology while at university which dealt primarily with student creative writing—no prompts or themes, the students were allowed to submit anything. I felt that the absence of a theme would create a unique space where the author’s voice had an opportunity to shine individually instead of being lost in parameters. When I started working on Transformed, I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant about working within the confines of a theme, as I was concerned about losing what I thought of as the uniqueness and individuality of my last experience. I cannot stress this enough, but I absolutely could not have been more wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I find that every time that cocky little voice pipes up in my head and says, “pfffft, girl, I know exactly how this is going to go—relax, I’ve totally got this… I promise…” I inevitably end up having to pick myself up off the floor and try to discover where my preconceived notions led me astray.

Transformed has shown me, among other things, how boundless creativity is. Obviously I have a flair for the dramatic, but it really is quite astonishing to me how each author involved in Transformed managed to interpret our prompt so differently. We asked our authors to write a romantic short story that explored shapeshifter culture. Maybe the problem is that I’m just not creative enough. Maybe I expected everyone to hear the word “shapeshifter” and default to werewolves, and vampires, and Jekylls (oh my!) just like I tend to.

Instead, when it came time for the submission deadline, I found that I had a startling array of creative and vibrant characters to choose from. I received stories featuring shapeshifting cobras (which, being Canadian, aren’t really even on my animal radar, let alone my shapeshifter one), selkies, hawks, and dragons, etc. Instead of the lack of individuality I was so foolishly worried about, I got an incredible array of characters, history, mythology, and conflict. I got a set of stories from authors who come from all over the world and have perspectives regarding shapeshifters that I could never have even dreamed of.

Again, I know I’m being overdramatic here, but I think it’s really cool that I got to work with something far better than individual stories with no cohesive theme—I had the opportunity to work with stories that shared a kind of synergy. A synergy that showcases each voice much more dramatically than an anthology with no cohesion would. I think Transformed is worth reading for a great number of reasons, but I think, at least for me, one of its biggest charms is the opportunity it affords us to see how vastly different people interpret what it is to be a shapeshifter.

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