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Nightshade: An Interview with Author Andrea Cremer

Vampires may rule the genre roost at the moment, with zombies a close second, but werewolves are definitely moving up the ranks, which is why debuting author Andrea Cremer's Nightshade, coming this October, should be a hit with readers.
Cremer, a professor of history at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, has written Nightshade as a trilogy. In the tale, Calla Tor has always known her role: as soon as she graduates from the Mountain School, she will become the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the keepers. However, Calla is steered away from her destiny -- and the unassailable laws of her masters -- when she rescues a beautiful human, Shay. Calla is suddenly torn between her previously unquestioned fate and her natural attraction to Ren, and her growing desire to know more about the mysterious Shay. Following that desire is dangerous, however, and Calla might lose everything she holds dear... even her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

In detailing the inspiration for Nightshade, the author offers, "Calla was the inspiration. Readers often ask if she's based on a real person and the answer is no. She is completely unique. My books start out usually with one scene or one character getting lodged in my mind and refusing to go away. That's what happened with Calla. I was at a bookstore and came across a poem by Margaret Atwood. The first lines read, 'Not you I fear but that other/She who walks through flesh/Queen of the two dimensions,' and I knew who Calla was: a powerful girl who was also a wolf. I also knew she was in trouble, but I wasn't sure why. The world of Nightshade spun out from the threads of Calla's plea for help.

"I love that Calla is both fierce and vulnerable," Cremer continues. "She has so mauch strength -- she's a natural leader and warrior -- but the rules of her world confine her. She revels in her ability to fight and to take care of herself - she would never cower or apologize for those traits. But she can't kick as much ass as she'd like to, because she's being held back and those limtations are slowly eating away at her in ways she doesn't even realize. This is a story about Calla's journey to find herself, realize her place in the world and discover why true love matters."

Just as Stephenie Meyer offered her own mythology for the vampires of The Twilight Saga, Cremer has tried to bring something unique to the werewolves of Nightshade.

"I grew up in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest in Northern Wisconsin," she says. "It's one of the most beautiful places in the country, and I spent my childhood playing deep in the woods, building forts, discovering hidden waterfalls. It was a magical experience full of wild possiblity. Wolves struck me as an essential part of that mysterious and magical wilderness. Werewolves didn't reflect those qualities to me -- they always had been cursed, were beastly and horrid, and they always, alway wanted to be rid of their wolf selves. I hated that! Unlike most werewolf books out there, I wanted to portray wolves as I see them: beautiful, social and intelligent. The emobidment of freedom. For Nightshade's Guardians, being a wolf isn't a curse. It's power and wondrous. Wouldn't you rather be a wolf? I know I would."

Nightshade will be published by Penguin's Philomel Books on October 19th of this year. The first sequel, Wolfsbane, should be ready for summer of 2011 while book three, Bloodrose, is scheduled for the spring of 2012. A prequel to Nightshade, set in the Middle Ages, will be published in the fall of 2012.

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