Below is an interview with author Nick Stead. Nick is the creator of the Hybrid Book Series. Hunted, the second installment of this werewolf book series has just been released on Amazon. The book is currently available on Kindle eBook format ASIN: B01MF4WZ8G.
On the fringes of society, new challenges await. Nick Stead must now learn to adapt to life without the human comforts he’s always taken for granted, in a world which has no place for werewolves. Killing feels like the only thing he has left, but indulging his bloodlust comes at a high price, one that could cost him his life.
It’s no longer just the Slayers on his trail but a new threat stalking the shadows, and possibly even Death himself. Nick soon finds himself hunted at every turn as his allies begin to turn against him. It seems Death is closing in, and there’s nowhere left to run.
About the Author:
Nick Stead began the very first draft of Hybrid at fifteen in his GCSE years at school. What was originally intended to be a short story quickly grew into ideas not just for a full length novel, but an entire series, and with the realisation of this his dream to one day be published was born.
Driven by his life long passion for werewolves and the horror genre, Nick gave the manuscript two major rewrites before finally securing the book deal with Wild Wolf Publishing in 2015.
Nick has also written several short stories which you can read for free on his website. He mostly writes supernatural horror, although he does have plans for a dark fantasy some time in the future. Fellow writers at Huddersfield Author’s Circle have likened Nick’s style to a werewolf – he likes to grab the reader by the throat at the very beginning of a story and not let go until he drags them to its bloody conclusion!
Aside from writing, he also enjoys reading, video games, movies, TV, LARP and rock/metal music.
Now the Interview Questions:
Question: In your second book Hunted you really step things up a notch will a full-on war including vampires, zombies, werewolves, slayers, and spellcasters. Can you explain a little about the war and the opposing sides?
Answer: It all started with the rise of werewolves in Ancient Greece, based on the story of Lycaon. In the Hybrid universe Lycaon is believed to have been the first werewolf, and in his neverending quest for power he spread the curse across the lands until their numbers were great enough to reign over mortal men. Eventually werewolves turned on each other and the vampires also joined the power struggles in a similar quest for dominance, and whilst they were weakened from fighting amongst themselves, men rose up once more. The group who led the resistance named themselves the Demon Slayers, or Slayers for short. The undead were then forced to ally against humanity but they were driven back into the shadows, where their numbers began to dwindle as mankind returned to dominance and made advances in technology. In modern times the undead are facing extinction. The Slayers are on a quest to wipe them out completely, and they have a few spellcasters capable of witchcraft, modern technology and numbers to their advantage. At the end of the first book my werewolf character manages to convince a number of undead to fight back, including zombies, ghouls and wraiths as well as the vampires, and Hunted opens just three days after that battle.
There’s also demons in the Hybrid universe (which is why the human faction call themselves ‘Demon Slayers’ rather than ‘Undead Slayers’, as they considered all these creatures they were fighting against to be demonic) but they haven’t really come into the series yet. Most demons were driven back into Hell by the Slayers, but they will have their part to play in later books.
Question: In one section you describe the werewolf as “undead”. What does this mean exactly in your series?
Answer: Well, it seems like werewolves often get lumped in with ‘undead’ and when I looked up the definition of undead I found a site that said any creature which started off human and died to become that creature is classed as an undead. So in my series I decided when someone is bitten and turned, they die for a short time and then the curse brings them back as a werewolf. They might not be truly undead in the same sense as vampires, zombies, ghouls or the various types of spirits since their bodies are still living, but it was just easier to class them as undead when I had the idea of the war going on – it means I can just refer to one side as undead and one side as the Slayers.
Question: You mention in your book that your werewolf can control the level of change. Please explain the difference between the wolf form, the hybrid form, and the rules that govern the transformation your werewolf undergoes.
Answer: At full moon my werewolf undergoes an involuntary transformation and becomes a full wolf, which I refer to as his ‘wolf form’. Partway through the first book, he’s taught how to change outside of the full moon and how to control it so he can take it as far or as little as he wants to, e.g. if he doesn’t have time to transform in a fight he can just let his teeth become fangs and nails become claws, giving him natural weapons he can grow quickly without taking it any further. But his preferred form for fighting in Hunted is the one I refer to as his ‘hybrid form’, which is basically the kind of wolf man hybrid we usually think of as a werewolf – his body stays mostly humanoid but he has a wolf’s head and tail, and he’s covered in fur. His pelt is like a natural timber wolf’s pelt rather than the solid brown, grey, black or white we usually see in movies.
There’s also something of a mental transformation at full moon. I decided to treat lycanthropy like having a split personality in my series, so you get his wolf side as a character in his own right. When the wolf takes control he usually transforms fully to wolf. The full moon allows the wolf personality to take over, but he also tries to take control in response to strong emotions like anger or fear, and wounded prey calls to him as well. This is more of a problem for my character in the first book while he’s still trying to live his human life, and he’s still adjusting to his curse and the presence of a separate personality lurking in his mind.
Question: A bullet to the brain or heart can kill the werewolves in your books. What else can kill them?
Answer: Technically they could die from things like starvation or bleeding out if they can’t transform to heal the damage, but destroying the heart or the brain is the only sure way for the Slayers to kill them. The constant regeneration of cells during the transformation grants them immortality (because why should vampires have all the fun?!) and it also heals any wounds. Destroying the brain obviously means instant death, and taking out the heart kills too quick for the transformation to heal, hence why those are the only two methods that really work.
Question: I find it very interesting that the vampire Lady Sarah also can transform into a wolf. Please expound on that a little.
Answer: Her character is actually based on my cousin who got me started writing Hybrid in the first place, all those years ago when I was just fifteen myself (like my character). She wanted her vampire character to have the power to turn into a wolf and a bat (though I decided a giant bat was more fun than a naturally sized vampire bat and she uses this form in the battle at the end of Hybrid), but not all vampires in the series have that power. I haven’t fully explored how things work for vampires yet but some are more powerful than others which can be down to their age or the power of the vampire that turned them, and some just never get much power for reasons unknown. For the shapeshifthing vampires it’s different to werewolves in that they always transform at will, unlike the curse of lycanthropy being triggered every full moon, and their shapeshift is much easier and less painful than for werewolves. For the vampires it’s like shadows melding together into a new shape and it happens quickly. They also don’t face any mental changes like the kind lycanthropy causes, so they’re still themselves when shifted.
In Hunted Lady Sarah uses her wolf form to help keep my character in line, as he allows himself to get lost in his rage and bloodlust so much that he soon becomes out of control and puts them both at risk. Leaving a trail of carnage everywhere they go soon brings more Slayers after them!
Question: In the start of the first and second book you almost put the reader in the story as a character. Can you explain about this and this writing style in more detail?
Answer: This was an idea inspired by Frankenstein, which I was studying for my GCSE English Literature at the time of starting on the first draft of Hybrid. I really liked the way Mary Shelley begins her story with letters sent from Captain Walton to his sister because I felt it’s as if the reader is reading about events that actually happened, rather than just reading the narrative of a story like in most books. So I wanted to do a similar thing with my story, and I added in a prologue and epilogue to the working draft as a result. Instead of letters sent from one character to another, I decided to bring the reader immediately into the story by starting in second person and have my character tell his story to them. The plan is to eventually catch up with where the character is in the prologue when the reader first meets him, which will probably be partway along the series and then it will just follow on from there. So there might not need to be a prologue and epilogue in the last few books. I’ll probably stick to past tense even after it catches up with the present though, as I prefer writing in past tense for longer pieces.
Question: You touched on this above, but in your book the werewolf needs to transform to start the healing process. Are there any other limitations or requirements surrounding the healing process?
Answer: The regeneration of cells brought on by the transformation allows my werewolf to fully heal his wounds in a matter of minutes – without using the transformation he would just heal at the normal rate of a mortal human/wolf. But there is a limitation in that the transformation requires a great amount of energy, which is why my werewolf needs to kill and eat so much to sustain himself between transformations. If he’s not able to feed and is forced to keep switching forms, he eventually grows weak and runs out of the energy needed to keep on transforming. So if he doesn’t have the energy to transform, he can’t instantly heal himself.
Question: Your werewolves can speak very well. Can this only be done in the hybrid form or in the full wolf form as well?
Answer: In the hybrid form he manages speech but as a full wolf he communicates with Lady Sarah in the ‘wolven tongue’. It was just an idea I had early on when I started writing the first book, to allow them to talk to each other even when he’s in full wolf form. Since Lady Sarah also has a wolf form, it made sense to me that she would have a way to communicate with other wolves. He can’t manage human vocalizations as a full wolf though.
Question: In several sections of your books you go into the torment that the werewolf is in. Do we have a philosophical werewolf on our hands here?
Answer: To a degree yeah – I guess that’s also down to being inspired by Frankenstein!
With Hybrid I was really trying to explore what the curse might do to a person over time, as it seems that’s not been dealt with in the long term in other werewolf books I’ve read/movies I’ve seen. It kind of started off as my own personal werewolf fantasy but as I’ve always loved horror, it was more horrific to have the character struggling to live with his curse and the things that it’s made him do, until he gives into the darkness and embraces his rage and bloodlust. That struggle just seemed to lend itself to questions of heaven and hell, where he fits in it all and presenting him as a ‘tormented soul’ at times, even though I’m not religious myself.
Question: For any other aspiring writers including in the specific genre, please elaborate on your experience in working with Wild Wolf Publishing and the process you underwent in publishing your two books.
Answer: Well there’s two ways to get published – the ‘traditional’ route and self-publishing. The traditional route is to find an agent, and then they help you find a publisher. And usually when you submit to a place they ask for a covering letter, synopsis and a sample of your work – usually the first three opening chapters but this varies from place to place, so make sure you check exactly what the agency/publisher is asking for before sending anything to them! If they like what they see, then they’ll ask for the full manuscript (but it usually takes weeks if not months to hear back, if you ever get any reply at all), and then either turn it down, ask for changes, or make you an offer.
It took me a while with Hybrid because I didn’t do much in the way of writing at college, so I didn’t go back to the manuscript until I was in my early twenties, when I gave it a major redraft. Once I felt it was ready for publishing I then started submitting to the big UK agencies who accept horror, with no luck. It was actually a friend who recommended Wild Wolf as he knew someone else who was published by them, but at first they advised me to revise and resubmit due to the tone of the narrative being too inconsistent between young adult and ‘full on adult horror’ as they called it. I do feel the narrative is a lot stronger now for that final redraft, and when I resubmitted the redrafted opening chapters they said they loved the new version and asked to see the full manuscript. After about a month’s wait there came the good news that they wanted to publish it, and things happened pretty quickly after that.
With Hunted I was able to skip the initial submission stage as I was already with Wild Wolf, so I sent them the full manuscript and they were happy with it, without asking for any further changes that time.
I’ve found Wild Wolf to be very fair with the percentage of the royalties they offer and they’ve given me a lot of say in the cover designs, which not all publishers do from what I’ve heard. The original design of Hybrid wasn’t right at all for my story (their designer came up with a kind of 60s horror movie type feel to the first one they sent me) so I asked for a more gothic feel, and she nailed it soon after. The Hunted one was pretty much the idea I suggested to them.
The downside to not having an agent and to Wild Wolf only being a small publisher is that I’m having to do most of the work myself when it comes to promotion and hunting for reviews (though every reviewer who initially showed an interested in Hybrid has unfortunately let me down!), so it’s been quite intense trying to juggle promoting my books, writing more, and doing paid work to cover the bills. But I’m determined to keep on pushing my writing career with the dream of someday making enough from royalties to live off!
Question: Who are your favorite authors?
Answer: My favourite werewolf author has to be Graeme Reynolds – I read the first High Moor amidst the latest rejection letters I’d just received for Hybrid and I loved it so much that it really inspired me to keep on trying to get my own story published, even though being turned down repeatedly was starting to get disheartening. I’ve also been enjoying M.D. Lachlan’s Wolfsangel series and Stacey Mewse’s Primal Progeny series.
I’m also a fan of fantasy and love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Christopher Paolini’s Inheritence series.
Question: You addressed this a little above but how do you approach your cover design?
Answer: One of the advantages of having a publisher is that they take care of that for me, though they have asked me for suggestions with each one and allowed me a lot of input in the designs. I was on the verge of self-publishing just before my friend recommended Wild Wolf but I must admit the cover design was the one thing holding me back! I wasn’t sure how to go about it as I’m no artist and I didn’t really have any artist contacts back then who could help me out.
Question: What are you working on next?
Answer: I’m already about halfway through the third book in the Hybrid series (I’m thinking there will be around ten in total) and I really want to do a dark fantasy which I have a few very rough chapters for, but I’m prioritising the Hybrid series now the first two books are out there, so the dark fantasy is more of a side project at the moment. I also have plenty of other ideas knocking around in my skull – I just need the time to work on them all!
We here at Werewolf Book.com would like to thank author Nick Stead for taking the time to answer our questions. Please check out his two books Hybrid and Hunted and visit his websites www.hybridseries.co.uk and www.nick-stead.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @nick_stead