My Goodreads friends might have noticed me gushing about a new favourite book: THE WORST WEREWOLF by Jacqueline (Jackee) Rohrbach.
Jackee was kind enough to agree to be interviewed by me, as long as I stop sending her the letters and stay at least 250ft from her or any member of her family at all times. Yay!
The werewolf said, “Race you to the road.” It was the last thing Tovin heard before his life became uncomfortably complex.
Before that night in the forest, Tovin was the type of guy to play it safe. Happy wearing the same shoes, buying the same deodorant, and eating the same meals day after day, he thought his simple existence was pretty great. At least until his boyfriend dumps him for being boring. Heartbroken but on a mission of vengeance, Tovin decides to start a new life filled with excitement, danger, and maybe a meal from a questionable food truck.
A date with Garvey would start it all. Handsome, sophisticated, the man is everything Tovin thinks he needs. It’s a pity he turns out to be a werewolf on a mission to save his pack from destruction.
Now Tovin is caught up in Garvey’s world.
Abducted and forced to be the bloodservant of a powerful Alpha, he lands right in the middle of a brewing conflict that threatens to destroy humanity.
My review: ***** (Loved it)
I thought I was done with vampires and werewolves. Then I met THE WORST WEREWOLF. I’ve given it a star for each dozen-or-so times I laughed out loud. Or one for each time my heart was wrenched. Or maybe one for each time I wanted to punch Garvey in the face.
The werewolves in this book wear T-shirts which say, “Blame Bigfoot” as an inside joke. That go to LARPing festivals in their human form wearing werewolf ears “made of plastic and sadness” for kicks and giggles.
These are werewolves I can get on board with.
Garvey is a bit of an asshole werewolf. He’s immature, impulsive, arrogant, mischievous and, well, infuriatingly endearing. His latest Happy Meal is Tovin, who has decided to Make A Change to his life and become more adventurous. Maybe try some sushi from a food tru–no, too far. But he will go on a date with a hot stranger.
Too bad the stranger turns out to be a werewolf who wants to enslave him as a bloodservant to an alpha. That’s a bit too much of A Change.
Before he knows it, Tovin is kidnapped by his would-be-boyfriend, a woman who tells her best friend, “You look like a strawberry sprouting white mold,” and the friend, who replies, “I would have gone for ‘vagina.’ But then I always do.”
I adored the first third with Garvey trolling the LARPers, Tovin being painfully socially incompetent on his big date, and Garvey generally steamrolling through everybody’s plans and leaving chaos in his wake.
Then we leave the romcom and enter new points of view within the two warring werewolf factions. Here we get true horror and sadness, which contrasts beautifully with the hilarity in other POVs. We meet Amber, a human who loses her father in the most horrific circumstances, and Lavario, who’s kind of a cross between Oscar Wilde and the ‘Grandma Finds the Internet’ meme:
“Amber simply responded by telling him to shut up and called him a psycho douchewaffle. He did not understand what a waffle made of douche contents would look like or how to take it as an insult. Google only helped him so much.”
Lavario and Amber have a complicated and touching relationship – still with laugh out loud moments, but also times when I had my heart in my mouth.
Amber: “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill your insane daughter. I’m going to kill that alpha whatever. You know, the guy who is pretty much one giant bad combover.”
Not only do we get non-cliche werewolves, but non-cliche vampires, too! They don’t have slick-backed hair. They don’t sparkle. They don’t turn into bats. I don’t want to spoil it but…
“Eat him,” Molly [the vampire] said.
“No, don’t eat him.”
“Ummmm,” she responded.
“Eat.” [Molly] lunged at the door again, pushing Timothy aside.
“No. Don’t eat.”
“There you go. You got it.” He watched her grin and prance eagerly. “That’s not making me feel super optimistic, Molly.”
A+, will lol many times again and looking forward to the next in the series. 🙂
And now… the interview!
1. Where did the idea for THE WORST WEREWOLF come from?
The idea I wanted to write my own werewolf story came from my love of the horror genre. I grew up obsessed with werewolves—shows, movies, etc.—and vampires to a lesser extent. Think about Tina Blecher on Bob’s Burgers. That was me! Except I wasn’t obsessed with horses and butts, I was obsessed with horror movies and wolves. My room was covered in wolf photos. I got invited to a lot of parties is what I’m saying here.
The rest of the inspiration is tediously academic. My husband told me I should just make something up—“Lie about it, you’re a writer!”—but I couldn’t really think of anything else that would inspire a book about bloodsucking magical werewolves.
There were a few primary influences. There was a fact sheet (possible “fact” sheet) about werewolf mythology in different cultures. I read it while in HS, and I’m not sure if it was true or simply spitballing. One of the cultures I read about had one word for both werewolves and vampires, and I thought this was really cool. Afterward, I brainstormed what types of things they’d have in common. Blood drinking seemed like a given.
I sat down and thought about how a society of blood drinkers would function. You can’t, for example, have an extremely large population of predators that kill people. Otherwise, they’d exhaust their food source. It would also be improbable to have them target too many people of status if their culture is hidden. That led to the creation of the bloodservants and an explanation for how they’re targeted and obtained.
I used a variety of different theoretical frameworks to shape their society and to explain deviance and predatory behavior. Readers probably wont see the influences unless they’re actively looking for them. For the most part, the frameworks were for me, to pin down goals and motivations and to keep them consistent.
The political element of it was inspired by my time in academia. It really is a backstabbing, power grabbing world. It’s pretty much a Game of Thrones where the moral get their heads lopped off by psychopaths.
Basically, I put my degree in criminal justice plus my experience interviewing criminals to really great use. Money well spent. Parents are proud.
2. Long after I finished the book, I’m still pondering who is the eponymous ‘worst werewolf.’ Lavario is given the epithet in the book, but Garvey is a strong contender, and I could make a case for Mazgan, too. I loved that layering. Did you have one character in mind when choosing the title?
I’d say it’s fair to apply it to Garvey as well. From the perspective of the reader, Garvey probably deserves the title more than Lavario does. He is an antagonist in the series. His actions result in Lavario’s downfall, Tovin’s ghost problem, and the whole vampire debacle (ongoing). Plus, he enjoys killing people and being an a-hole about it. However, from his perspective, he’s pretty good at being a werewolf. He’s nailing it.
Lavario is bad at being a werewolf more than he’s a bad werewolf. He’s rebellious. Also, he’s kind of lazy.
3. One of my favourite parts in the whole book was Tovin’s date with Garvey, otherwise known as The Date of Awkwardness and Missed Cues. They say ‘write what you know’… please tell me this wasn’t based on a real-life experience? What IS the worst date you’ve ever been on?
No, it was not based on a real-life date (thankfully). Okay, so… I’m probably someone else’s worst date story. Before I met my husband, I only dated one other guy. He had a lot of romantic ideas and poetry in his heart (or whatever).
He took me to a nice dinner, and I suffered through a lot of stuff like, “You’re so beautiful. Your eyes are like emeralds. Your hair is a dark cloud around your perfect face.” By the time that was over with, I was at my limit. And then he says something about playing the piano on the beach, and I respond with, “How are you getting the piano to the beach?” He doesn’t have an answer. This bothers me because his promise seems impractical.
I spent the rest of the evening beating him at cards. I doubt he remembers me fondly. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s sitting at home right now and thinking, “Man, where is that lady with cloud-like hair who called me out on my piano-playing nonsense?”
4. Amber goes through some horrific experiences in the book – those scenes were so raw and powerful. Were they difficult to write?
Yes. Very. It was especially difficult to move her character forward from it in a way that felt genuine.
5. In the movie I’m casting a young Jim Carrey as Garvey, Daniel Radcliff as Tovin, Jennifer Lawrence as Amber and… well, I’m stuck for Lavario. I don’t know who could pull off a cross between Oscar Wilde and Grandma-Finds-the-Internet Meme. Who’s your cast?
Ugh. This is so difficult. I don’t really watch many movies, and the shows I watch don’t have anyone who fits. Honestly, no one really stands out to me except for maybe Jessica Williams as Amber.
Keep in mind I googled “male actors” and went by looks alone. Same thing for female actresses, except for Lupita.
6. The book cover is gorgeous and stands out on a bookshelf, virtual or real. Authors often worry about losing control of cover decisions when they sign with a publisher. How much input did you have, and did you squeal like a little girl when you saw the final design?
The first cover NineStar sent to me looked great, but I worried it didn’t fit the story very well. I expressed my concerns and suggestions, and I was sent a revised version of the cover a few days later. They responded to my feedback pretty much exactly.
Natasha Snow (@natashasnow) is such a great cover artist that you can’t help but squeal with delight when she sends you a final product. I believe she also does covers for self-published authors if anyone is interested: http://natashasnow.com/.
7. What’s it been like working with NineStar Press?
Really good! They have a lot of wonderful authors.
8. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Stop playing Banished and write. I say this, but I’m playing Banished right now. A rock crushed Penell the stonecutter.
10. If you were a werewolf, who would you choose as your bloodservant?
If I couldn’t get a super independent one, I’d probably end up eating people. People who need constant reassurance and validation are not renewable resources in my book. God help you if you’re a guy who says he’s going to play a piano on a beach but you don’t have a clear plan for how to achieve this.
[Anna: Am now a bit worried. Has anybody seen Piano Dude since the date?]
11. Can you give us a hint of what happens in the next in THE IMMUTABLE MOON series?
Tovin deals with the ghost and an unseemly number of social obligations. He’s introverted, so that’s hard for him. Amber finds out how strong she is. Lavario does his best to guide her along the way while still looking fabulous and living in style. Kijo tries to regain power and deals with all the fallout from Lavario’s unwillingness to lead the Varcolac. Garvey creates another vampire. Much love for the special bond between Molly and Garvey. Also, the LARPERS invite Garvey to LARP-RI-CON.
12. What are you reading at the moment?
This summer I’m treating myself to a re-read of all my favorite childhood books. I’m starting out with IT (yes, because of the movie), and then I’m reading the Death Gate Cycle. Afterward, I’ll probably go back to my Dragonlance novels. I’m going to read Bite Somebody as well. I have it on good authority it’s an amazing and funny book.
[Anna’s note: It is! You won’t regret it!]
And now a really hard-hitting question…
13. Who do you think would win in a fight: a Komodo dragon with a limp or an anaconda halfway through digesting a deer?
Going to go with komodo dragon. The python might die from the deer alone, and I’m not sure how much defense it would have against a komodo dragon if it couldn’t coil. Plus, komodo dragons look like reincarnated weight lifters with their tiny necks and big bodies.
Let me know what you think!