Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not your James Franco's werebear

I thought long and hard about whether or not to post this. I'm generally pretty secretive about my writing projects (or rather not about the projects themselves--which I freely and jokingly discuss with anyone who will listen--but in terms of actual content). For the last two years or so, I've been playing around with a young adult novel (very) loosely based on a Norwegian folk tale. It was (or is) an attempt to cash in on the success of the lucrative phenomenon of teen vampire and werewolf romance novels. (A movement spearheaded by a woman whose name so closely resembles my own that I was once mistaken for her at an airport security checkpoint.) Only instead of vampires (overdone) and werewolves (practically passe), it would be about a boy who is cursed with turning into a bear every night. A werebear, for lack of a more awesome term.

I'm actually no closer to finishing even a first draft than I was six months ago. So why post something now? Well, partly because I haven't done anything worth writing about since I've gotten back from my trip, and I have a self-imposed blog post quota to maintain. The second reason is that it has recently come to my attention (thanks to a tip from a loyal werebear fan) that James Franco--who you may remember from his iconic role as "New Goblin" in Spiderman 3--is now shopping around a very similar idea. Observe exhibit A (skip to 2:25): Okay, so he's not so much "shopping around" the idea as he is making fun of it. But that's how I got my start too! You start off joking, but pretty soon you start thinking: "hey, people have paid money at bookstores for worse." Before you know it, two years of your life are gone, and all you have to show for it is 30,000 words of teen fluff.

At any rate, I submit for you an excerpt from the book in all its unedited glory. This particular section takes place when Tara (our lovelorn teenage heroine), egged on by her friends Rachel and Kati, finally discovers her boyfriend Mike's (a Norweigen exchange student/bear) secret of why she never sees him at night. It's not the sort of book I would read myself, but hey, that hasn't stopped me from writing it. Enjoy!

All business now, the girls readied their flashlights and sprinted across the cul-de-sac to the entrance to the woods. With the light now, the way seemed only slightly easier. It still was nearly impossible to see where Mike had gone. It was as if the woods opened up to let him pass and then barred the way again. Still they pushed on with great urgency, all pretending they knew exactly where they were going. The twigs scratched their arms and legs but they pressed on without even registering it. Tara led the way, furiously pushing aside branches that could serve no purpose but to stand between her and the truth. Rachel followed her while Kati, holding the flashlight aloft, brought up the rear.

Suddenly, Tara heard a muffled cry behind her and turned around. Kati had tripped over a root and lay crumbled on the ground gripping her ankle. Rachel bent down to help her, and Tara ran back to her side.

“Are you okay?” asked Tara.

“Yeah…well, I’m not sure. It really hurts” groaned Kati.

“We’re so close though,” said Rachel.

“You don’t know that,” said Kati with a pained laugh, “for all you know, we could be far. And anyway we don’t even know where we’re going, so close and far are kind of moot.”

“I knew this was a bad idea,” whispered Tara almost to herself.

Suddenly, as if to underline Tara’s point—and in a way Rachel’s as well—very near to them was a flash of light illuminating the trees and a clearing up ahead. Accompanying the flash of light was a horrible, guttural, roar. It sounded like the voice of something (for a human voice it was not) in horrible pain.

“We’ve come this far,” said Rachel with finality. The two girls hoisted Kati who was able to walk quite well on her foot, though whether from adrenaline or actual foot health was a matter that didn’t concern any of them just then. They ran towards the clearing where they had seen the light.

The flash had settled into a dim glow, but the clearing was still very visible in the haze of the mysterious illumination that was seemingly without source. The source of the light was soon clear—Mike was lying in the clearing, but his body was wrenching about without his control. He seemed to be having some sort of seizure. Tara’s instinct was to run to him as he was clearly in pain—but Rachel’s hand on her arm stopped her long enough for her to realize her legs wouldn’t have moved anyway. But at the instant Rachel’s hand touched her arm, before she could think of anything other than that the man she loved was being tortured by some unseen force, she let forth an involuntary cry: “Mike!” He looked over at her and she was immediately washed with regret. For the look of pain on his face and in his eyes at seeing her there, as proof her betrayal, was far worse than any physical pain he might have been undergoing. He looked truly hurt for only an instant before his head snapped back looking upwards, and she saw his face no more.

In the next moment, fur was growing all over his body. He was becoming huge and muscled, a sinewy muscle, thick and strong especially in his limbs. The muscles were soon obscured by the hair that rippled over them in beautiful white waves. His entire stature was changed—his arms became equal to legs, and his body was contorted until it finally came to rest on all fours. Somehow, before the very eyes of the three girls, and in only a matter of minutes, the scrawny, pale, blond boy with a penchant for biochemical studies had transformed into an enormous, powerful white bear.

Rachel and Kati each grabbed one of Tara’s hands, and they stood in a chain, paralyzed by fear. The bear did not approach them, however. Once settled on the ground, safe and transformed, he turned to give one parting look to Tara, a look brimming with dissappointment. And though he was still a ways from them, she could see that while everything else had changed, his eyes were the same deep blue. He then turned and lumbered away into the forest. The light immediately faded and the clearing was left in darkness. They could not have followed him had they wanted to.

The walk home was undertaken in silence. Kati limped now, and her irregular footstep was the only remarkable noise on the journey back. Without discussing it, they all returned to Tara’s house and walked upstairs. There was no question: if they slept at all that night, it would be in the same room.

Kati was the first to speak: “Well…at least he’s not cheating on you.”


  1. Keep at it! James Franco is busy with all his other projects. I loved the last line!

  2. I like it, you should post more! I'm sure you're already thinking up the pen name, lest you be confused with that OTHER teen werestuff writer. My suggestion is Stormy Miller.

  3. I like it, and also liked the heroine's name. ;) It definitely reads like something a YA fan would like! YA is HOT right now.