How I Spent May 2023


It was another month of preparation. Sending off more short stories (I currently have five pending, plus a pitch for a sixth). Working on my big zombie-themed blogging project, which should start soon. Chipping away at A Long Year’s Dreaming. And prepping for my crowdfunding initiative: Who Doesn’t Love a Doris?

Article topics for June and beyond:


Werewolf Wednesday: Edward Fairfax’s Dæmonologia (c. 1623)


If you enjoy my weekly looks at lycanthropy in lore and literature, please consider making a small donation to my Patreon or Ko-Fi.

Edward Fairfax’s Dæmonologia has a complex history. Fairfax wrote it at some point between 1623 (as it describes events that took place in that year) and his death in 1635, yet it was not made fully available to the public until William Grainge’s edition of 1882. Fairfax’s original is thought to be lost, although a few manuscript copies remain. This post will focus on the lycanthropy-relevant portions of the text; for a fuller discussion, I can recommend the Boggart and Banshee podcast.

Fairfax believed that his daughters Ann, Helen and Elizabeth, along with an unrelated girl named Maud Jeffray, were victims of witchcraft. Looking for culprits, he accused local women Elizabeth Dickenson, Jennit Dibble, Elizabeth Fletcher, Margaret Thorpe and Margaret Waite of being witches, along with Waite’s daughter and a seventh individual identified simply as “the strange woman”.

The “strange woman” reportedly claimed to have the ability to transform into a hare and back. This leads Fairfax into some theological musings about whether the Devil has the power to bring about such transformations. He starts his enquiry with Biblical accounts in which Satan transforms himself, along with similar instances of shapeshifting in the “profane stories” of classical literature:

It is not doubted but that the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, that he can enter into or use a living body as he did into the serpent and into the ass when he had talked to Eve and Balaam ; and as profane stories remember of the ox in Lucania, of which Pliny and others speak; and his possessions of human bodies are neither to be numbered or denied ; and this transformation of other bodies was believed of the ancients ; by the Greeks, as that of Periclymenus who could turn himself into a fly, an ant, or a bee, or what he list, as Hesiod and Euphorian testify; or that of Empusa recorded by Aristophenes and Epicharmus, and the Latines agreed with them, as the works of Medea and Circe witness.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Edward Fairfax’s Dæmonologia (c. 1623)”

A Long Year’s Dreaming: May 2023 Progress Report


My essay collection A Long Year’s Dreaming: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in 2020 is coming along steadily. I got a few more chapters to draft status this month, and I’m hoping to get another chunk done next month. I’m happy to say that the whole project’s on track to be finished by the end of the year.
Continue readingA Long Year’s Dreaming: May 2023 Progress Report”

Werewolf Wednesday: Montague Summers on Werewolves and Warlocks (1933)

I’ve been reading Montague Summers’ 1933 book The Werewolf in Lore and Legend. While I was hoping to write a chapter-by-chapter overview, as I’ve done with some of the other book-length volumes I’ve covered for this series, it turned out that this just wasn’t practical. Summers’ book is densely written and spends a fair amount of its time merely describing various earlier texts; in these cases, I might as well write posts about whichever documents Summers is quoting from.

That said, there are portions where Summers gives his own commentary, and these are worth looking at. A minor case in point is where Summers quotes from J. Sibbald’s 1802 Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, which has the word “Warwolf” in its glossary:

John Sibbald in the Glossary to his Chronicle of Scottish Poetry has: “Warwolf, according to an antient vulgar idea, a person transformed to a wolf. Teut. weer wolf Swed. warulf, lycanthropus; hoc est, qui ex ridicula vulgi opinione in lupi forma noctu obambulat. Goth, vair, vir; & ulf, lupus. It is not unlikely that Warlock may be a corruption of this word.”

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Montague Summers on Werewolves and Warlocks (1933)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Spider-Man and the Shapeshifting Antichrist (2002)


If you enjoy my weekly looks at lycanthropy in lore and literature, please consider making a small donation to my Patreon or Ko-Fi.

I’ve come down with a nasty cold, so I’ll be fairly brief this week and take another dip into a familiar topic: the belief in werewolves within contemporary religious fundamentalist movements (see also my posts on Jon Watkins and David L. Brown).

The subject this time is the website of Cutting Edge Ministries, which features a review of the 2002 Spider-Man film by Berit Kjos. During her review, Kjos argues that such fantasies cloud the audience’s perception of reality; to back up her assertion, she provides an excerpt from an email sent to her by a reader who seems to have believed that Katherine Applegate’s Animorphs books may have been a prediction of the future:

Mike, a fan of the Animorphs books (published by Scholastic), visited our site. Then he wrote us a note saying, “Real science can never reproduce that shown in a book? … Sure, science now can’t create shape shifting, but wasn’t that also said about Cloning? … It is plausible for shape shifting to actually occur. Maybe not the exact way shown in Animorphs. They touch an animal and absorb its DNA, and then are able to become that animal. If… your DNA was able to form into that of an animal, programmed into the subject while still retaining the knowledge to return to being a human, then Shape Shifting is possible.” […] Cloning has become a reality and all kinds of medical advances prove the consequences as well as the rewards of today’s research. It fits within the domain of genetic research that humans can manipulate. But shape shifting, like Spider-Man’s superpowers, is confined to the realm of imagination, occult myths and spiritual illusion.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Spider-Man and the Shapeshifting Antichrist (2002)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Brad Steiger’s Monsters Among Us (1982)

If you enjoy my weekly looks at lycanthropy in lore and literature, please consider making a small donation to my Patreon or Ko-Fi.

Brad Steiger’s 1982 book Monsters Among Us is a compendium of supposedly “true” reports of encounters with various cryptozoological or paranormal creatures, be they ghosts, sea monsters, Bigfoot, aliens or even Richard Shaver’s detrimental robots.

The chapter devoted to werewolves touches upon most of the famous cases; some of these I’ve written about already (Jean Grenier, the Gandillon family, Jacques Roulet, Olaus Magnus) and some that I haven’t got around to covering in detail (Gilles Garnier, the Beast of La Gevaudan). Mixed in are various unsourced and dubious descriptions of world myth and folklore (“In Australia, primitives paid homage to a semihuman figure, which clearly had the characteristics of a subhuman Neanderthal type”).

Steiger can hardly be called a rigorous scholar. His writing suffers from such lapses as referring to Olaus Magnus as “Claus Mangus” along with a general reluctance to cite sources. Even the order of presentation is oddly erratic: Steiger includes a paragraph on an incident from 1573 officials warning farmers in Dole to arm themselves against werewolves, but neglects to mention that this must surely have been a response to the Gilles Garnier case, which he covered a few pages beforehand.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Brad Steiger’s Monsters Among Us (1982)”

My Body is Growing: Why Did this Children’s Book Take Two Decades to Become Controversial?


I recently saw a viral video on my Twitter feed. It was a segment in which the American TV pundit Chris Cuomo interviewed a group called “Moms for Liberty” who were trying to remove books they deemed sexually inappropriate from school libraries. A longer version of the video can be seen here.

The shorter version of the video opens with Cuomo asking a question insinuating that the group is opposing books like Gender Queer out of homophobia. The group’s representative counters by reading from a book that she considers inappropriate despite it depicting a straight relationship. The book is My Body is Growing: A Guide for 4 to 8 Year Olds by Dagmar Geisler, and after hearing an excerpt read out, even Cuomo seems to concede that its contents are objectionable.

Screenshot_20230507_180834_Samsung Internet

I was curious enough to do some research on the book, and learnt something remarkable: this book, which had suddenly become the target of controversy, was twenty years old

Continue readingMy Body is Growing: Why Did this Children’s Book Take Two Decades to Become Controversial?”

OUT NOW! UNIT: Operation Fall-Out


I gather that pre-order custoemrs have already started receiving their shiny new hardbacks of Operation Fall-Out and Other Stories, the latest in Candy Jar Books’ line of Doctor Who tie-ins focusing on the exploits of UNIT.

This book consists of eight interlinked stories, including my own contribution, “The Four Callers”. The other authors involved are Gary J Mack, James Hornby, Jamie Hailstone, Matthew Griffiths, Matthew Kresal, Tim Gambrell and my pal Tessa North. Pick up your copy here!

“The Four Callers” is my second published short story of the year. The first, “Transgef”, is part of Red Cape’s horror anthology P is for Poltergeist.

Werewolf Wednesday: “Halloween — The Eve of the Devil” by Jon Watkins (2017)

Continuing my trip through belief in werewolves among contemporary religious fundamentalists, I came across a twelve-part essay series by Jon Watkins of called “Halloween — The Eve of the Devil”, which was published in 2017 (rather oddly, in January of that year).  As is so often the case with religious diatribes about Halloween, the series is badly-researched and extremely credulous.

The fourth post in the series is focused on animals associated with Halloween, and includes a section on werewolves. The opening paragraph is typical of Watkins’ garbled writing style:

You can’t have Halloween without a Werewolf coming on the scene. There was a TV series called “Teen Wolf” starring Michael J. Fox in 1985. The pervert filled MTV gang revived the series in 2011 and a new season will start in 2106. Hollywood seems to be obsessed with the Occult!

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: “Halloween — The Eve of the Devil” by Jon Watkins (2017)”