Writing the next Twilight series was never Kat Kruger’s goal.
Sure, there are elements of paranormal activity, biting and werewolves in her debut novel, The Night Has Teeth, but that’s where the similarities end.
First, science fiction is woven into the fantasy book, the first in The Magdeburg Trilogy. Second, it’s gender-neutral geared, not just aimed at females. And third, the protagonist isn’t a hunky boy a la Jacob from Twilight or Alcide from True Blood.
“I decided to reclaim the werewolf genre,” said Kruger, formerly of North York who now splits her time between her old stomping grounds and Halifax.
The Night Has Teeth, which came out in September, follows 17-year-old Connor Lewis, who got off to an interesting start on his first day of kindergarten when he bit a fellow student, setting the framework for a social outcast life.
Years later he lands a scholarship to study in Paris, where his fortune begins to turn for the better after he makes friends and experiences normal teenage life. But that feeling doesn’t last.
Through his host family, Connor learns of the underworld of werewolves in which there are two types: those who are born and those who are bitten. Those born take the form of elegant wolves, while the bitten will turn into half-man, half-beast creatures that rarely survive.
Unfortunately for Connor, a 400-year-old bitten human is hunting him and his loyalties are tested.
For as long as she can remember, Kruger has been a fan of the spooky genre in general, from Frankenstein to Dracula, she said.
“I really like that type of fiction,” she said, naming Kelley Armstrong, Kenneth Oppel and Maggie Stiefvater as favourite authors. “Werewolves are human but animalistic. There is an underside to human behaviour.”
While Connor is from New York City, he spends the majority of the book in Paris, a city Kruger said is filled with interesting Gothic cemeteries.
“I created a mythology that’s really science based rather than magic based,” she said. “I did quite a lot of research.”
Some of her research involved her husband submitting his DNA to National Geographic Society and IBM’s Genographic Project, where genetic samples are used to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. From there Kruger began thinking of how werewolves could exist from a scientific standpoint, which drew her to genetics research.
“I like being able to apply science in fiction,” she said.
Kruger came across several challenges in the two-and-a-half years spent writing The Night Has Teeth, one of them being penning the book from a teenage boy’s perspective.
“I’ve never been a 17-year-old boy,” she said, laughing. “Luckily I had a male editor. He pointed out a 17-year-old boy wouldn’t know what a cashmere sweater was, so that was changed to just a sweater.”
Kruger will be discussing her novel during a question-and-answer session at North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St., Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 7 to 8 p.m.
“I practically lived at North York Central Library as a young adult and this is my way of giving back,” she said. “I might inspire future writers in the audience.”
Kruger, who won the Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize at the 34th Atlantic Writing Competition in 2011 for The Night Has Teeth, before it was published, said the second book in the trilogy is due out in September, with the third set for a spring 2014 release.
“I think I’m done with werewolves after this,” she said. “I’d really like to branch out.”