It is my pleasure to share a guest post by the creative Aidee Ladnier who relates...
FUN FACTS ABOUT Wolf Around The Corner
by Aidee Ladnier
1. The main characters of Wolf Around The Corner are named Tom and Frank because I was rebelling against cool and popular names at the time. I wanted two guys that were really different from the norm, with incongruously normal names. Tom is a glamorous actor from New York City. Frank is a werewolf.
2. The first scene written in Wolf Around The Corner was the “meet cute”. The first image I saw in my mind was Frank crouched naked in the azaleas as the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen stopped to talk to him. In fact, I posted a small snippet of the scene on Facebook the day after I wrote it.
3. Although I live in a big city now, I grew up in a small town. Similar to the fictional Waycroft Falls, my hometown has a weird statue commemorating a bug infestation, a unique festival once a year devoted to chickens, and a main street sprinkled with historic buildings and shops—including my favorite used bookstore.
4. Wolf Around The Corner has a Pinterest board! I make boards for most of my stories to get a sense of the characters and cement ideas about the setting in my head. If you’re interested in seeing the board and the images that inspired the story, you can find it here: https://www.pinterest.com/aideelad/wolf-around-the-corner/.
5. During research for Wolf Around The Corner, I learned that the Argentine Tango was practiced openly between men. In Buenos Aires in the 1800s, there were more men than women in the immigrant population. To practice dancing, men danced with other men to ensure that when they finally got a chance to dance with a woman, they did it correctly. From this all male Tango history, the Queer Tango movement arose which embraces the lack of heteronormative roles within the dance.
6. Wolf Around The Corner is dedicated to two amazing director/actors that I met in college. I’ve seen their work both on stage and behind the scenes. They were both generous with their time and answers when I began asking them questions in preparation for this novel. And they didn’t laugh once when I asked whether the director could also be the bartender at the opening reception.
7. The idea for a performance space above a bookshop came from two sources. The first is a local theater situated on the top floor of one of my favorite antique stores. I always end up shopping before the show! The second is the Whaley House in San Diego. The house which was a family home, was also a general store, a courtroom, and a theater. In 1868, Thomas Whaley converted a family bedroom into a theater that held 150 people. I saw the tiny theater on a trip to San Diego and ever since I’ve wanted to convert a fictional building to do the same.
8. The story of the Loathly Lady is the fairy tale that the book is really about. Although the play within Wolf Around The Corner is Beauty and the Beast, the real conflict and resolution is pure Arthurian legend. I first heard the Loathly Lady story in college, in one of the hardest and most entertaining classes that I took there—Chaucer—in the original Middle English. In fact, my classmates and I discussed making a t-shirt that said, “I survived Ms. Braswell’s Chaucer class” just to commemorate its ending. In the Loathly Lady, the beast is a woman. She doesn’t kidnap the object of her affection, but does get him to marry her. And then she reveals that she’s not always an ugly old hag. She can be a beautiful young woman for eight hours of every day. So she asks him—does he want a beautiful wife during the day when he’s showing her off to his fellow knights? Or would he rather have a beautiful bedmate when they are alone together in their private rooms? This decision gets at the heart of what all those beasts in all the stories want—acceptance.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today!
Wolf Around The Corner
By Aidee Ladnier
About Wolf Around the Corner:Frank’s family taught him that his wolf was dangerous, unwanted. Now his best friend’s brother wants him in bed and on stage. But giving into his wolf’s need for love could risk the quiet life Frank has created for himself—and his heart. Settled in the small town of Waycroft Falls, Frank is content to be a lone wolf among the white picket fences and dollar book bins until he finds himself sniffing his best friend’s brother. Tom smells like hot apple pie and his Broadway smile has Frank lolling his tongue. But when the visiting actor learns Frank’s secret and plies him with hot kisses to get him to star in his play, Frank can’t help but wonder if Tom is only acting. Tom ran away from family obligations to be a Broadway star. If he could make it there, he could make it anywhere…but he didn’t. Trudging home to Waycroft Falls to open his sister’s new performance space brings him face to face with a werewolf—a werewolf that would be perfect for Tom’s shoestring production of Beauty and the Beast. Staying in Tiny Town USA would be worth it if he can somehow convince the sexy wolf to expose his furry condition on stage and howl privately in Tom’s bed.
Wolf Around The Corner, a paranormal semi-finalist in Passionate Ink’s 2017 Sexy Scribbles Contest, is a full-length fairytale romance with a side of wolf shifter. If you like your romance with gorgeous men, humor, and small town magic, you’ll love Wolf Around the Corner! Buy your copy now and settle in to watch the drama unfold!
Genre: M/M Paranormal Shifter Contemporary
The first thing he always did was take a large lungful of air. It reoriented him to the outside. His animal cataloged the smells—car exhaust, grass, tree pollen, and wait, a mouse skittering in the Dumpster out back. Frank’s urge to run built. He circled the apartments, looking for the storm drain near the landscaping wall. Inside him, his animal wiggled in excitement at the prospect of being freed. Frank shucked his clothes behind the wall and tucked them into the shelter of the pipe, out of view. Then he shifted, his hands lengthening, hair sprouting, and muzzle growing. His point of view shortened, now three feet from the ground as he blinked through the eyes of his wolflike animal. Frank couldn’t stand still any longer. He sprang into the woods.
Frank ran, crashing through the underbrush and into the darkening shelter of the trees. He leaped over a shrub, felt the give of a sapling as he plowed through the brushwood. The animals and birds quieted at his loud, headlong dash, knowing he wasn’t of the forest, only disguised and playing at being a creature of the wood.
His paws skidded on a pile of old leaves. Frank almost lost his balance as he skipped up and over a fallen log. Around him, the scents of the forest all pushed in on him. Here a whiff of mold, there an astringent sniff of decay, everywhere the menthol of evergreen sap and wild herbs growing scattered on the forest floor.
Dry twigs snapped beneath his paws. His tongue lolled from his mouth, the fresh taste of the woods painting the back of his throat. The sun dipped below the horizon, the sky inking the tops of the trees. And Frank ran on until his limbs stopped, shaky and trembling. He collapsed onto a blanket of pine needles and leaves, moss and fungi cradling him as he panted.
As he caught his breath, the sounds of the woods lapped back around him. Insects and birds first. A harsh caw from a crow shrieked a hundred yards to his right. The chirp of a cricket sawed a few feet away. The rat-a-tat of a woodpecker echoed above. And the still of twilight calmed him.
When he’d rested enough that his legs would support him again, Frank began the slow jog back to the apartments, letting his nose guide him through the darkening visibility of the woods. He could smell Mrs. Reynolds’s nighttime cocoa, and Mr. Reynolds’s liniment that stank of capsaicin. The lighted windows of the apartment building led him the last few feet, and he scurried up to the storm drain.
But his clothes weren’t there.
The sky darkened into night.
Frank knew Mrs. Anderson was out, but he could try to get the elderly Reynolds couple to buzz him inside. And hope they didn’t ask why he was naked trotting up the stairs.
Or he could stay in wolf form without a tag, which meant a night outside running from animal control and/or dodging every human that would mistake him for a stray dog.
Or wait, a third option. There was an oak that almost reached the ledge of his apartment window on the second floor. He never bothered to lock the window. Frank shifted back to human and sprinted across the yard.
He leaped for the lower boughs of the tree, grunting as the bark dug into the flesh of his palms. Frank swung himself up to straddle a branch, regretting it as the rough wood scraped his thighs. He crouched in the tree, awkwardly trying to shield his more delicate parts from the smaller whiplike twigs. He skirted around the trunk, grimacing as a low branch brushed a little too close to his groin. There. He was now on the side that faced the apartment house.
Frank balanced upright, his arms pinwheeling until he caught another branch higher up to steady himself. The leaves around him shivered on their stalks, the rustling loud. Please don’t let Mrs. Reynolds look out her window.
Using the taller branch as a guide, Frank placed one bare foot in front of the other and inched away from the security of the trunk. The limb beneath his feet shook as his weight tested its strength. He slid a foot farther out on the branch. It dipped, the leaves at the tip brushing against the side of his window. Just a few feet more.
An ominous crack sounded beneath him, and Frank froze. The branch popped again. It wouldn’t hold. He could make a jump for it. Frank swallowed hard. He should make a jump for it.
Frank jumped. And missed the house, falling into the azalea bushes.
Just as his hunky new neighbor from across the hall walked out of the apartment building and down the front steps.
Frank had seen Tom in the hall that morning, carrying boxes. Trying to be neighborly, Frank had introduced himself and offered to help. Tom had turned Frank down but flashed the whitest, most even teeth at him. Frank had seen nothing whiter outside of a movie theater big screen. They’d exchanged pleasantries, commented on the weather, and then gone their separate ways. Or rather, that was what Frank wished had happened. What went down was:
“Need help?” Frank barely got the words out when his new neighbor turned in the doorway. Frank froze. God, the man was gorgeous.
“Naw, man. I got it.” Tom shifted the box in his arms to hold out his hand. “I’m Tom Davidson.”
Frank wiped a clammy hand on his jeans and shook Tom’s hand. “Hot.” And Frank knew his mouth had disclosed the exact thing his brain was thinking. Idiot. Who said that to a guy he’d just met? A guy like Tom already knew he was hot.
Tom tilted his head as if he hadn’t heard Frank right. “Yeah. The temperatures are a little warm for this time of year.”
Frank didn’t dare correct him and kept his mouth shut, afraid he’d say something worse.
“Okay, well then, see you around, Frank.” Tom chuckled and continued into his apartment.
Meanwhile Frank beat it down the stairs, unsure how he managed not to walk into traffic as his mind ran over the exchange fail again and again.
So yeah. That was the less than stellar first impression he’d given Tom this morning. And now Frank followed that up by hunkering down naked in the azalea bushes.
“Are you okay?” The gleam from the safety light caught Tom’s dark gold hair as he tilted his head to peer over the shrubs. The shadows sank into his chiseled cheekbones. He looked like a brooding movie star ready to sweep a celluloid damsel off her feet.
Too bad Frank was a naked man trying to keep from exposing himself. Frank crouched down farther, making himself as small as possible, hoping the azalea’s pink blooms would distract Tom from looking at his hairy backside.
“Are you sure?” Tom leaned closer. “Are you… Do you have any clothes on?”
Frank racked his brain for some reason he’d be naked and hiding in the bushes. “Um, I, uh, just got out of the shower, and I leaned too far out my window.”
“Oh my God. Did you fall from that height?” Tom glanced up to the second floor, to Frank’s closed window and then back down. “Do you need an ambulance?”
Frank sighed. This conversation was only getting worse. Cupping his hands over his privates, Frank rose from behind the bushes.
“I’m okay. Just need to get back inside. I have a hidden key if you can get me past the front security door.”
Tom’s eyes widened when Frank stood. Frank winced, sure he looked like one long scrape covered in leaves. He blew at the hair in his eyes. A twig dangled, caught in an auburn strand, but Frank was unwilling to expose himself to yank it out.
“Sure. Sure.” Tom fumbled for his key and opened the door. Frank half hopped over the acorns and chestnut burrs to slide past Tom. Tom wrinkled his nose as Frank passed. Good old wet dog smell. It always clung to him after a run in the woods.
Frank took the stairs two at a time to escape.
After a shower and shave—why did going furry always lead to needing a shave? The rest of his hair receded. Why didn’t his beard?—Frank spent thirty minutes in front of his bathroom mirror, trying to psych himself up to knock on Tom’s door and invite him over the next day for coffee or to watch football. He scratched behind an ear, feeling the healing scab from a graze he’d gotten when he’d fallen into the azalea bushes. Staring at his reflection, he tried to look earnest and approachable. He could do this. He had game.
“Hey, I know you don’t know many people in town, and I’m a loser, but would you like to spend time with me?” Frank made a face at himself. Probably shouldn’t label yourself as a loser.
“Yo, you want to watch football? No, how about basketball? Baseball? No? What about Mexican wrestlers?” Oh God, what if Tom doesn’t like sports?
“I ordered two large pizzas by mistake tonight, and I could use some help, or I’ll be gorging on pepperoni for a week.”
Lame. Frank’s own gaunt features stared back at him from the mirror. Who was he kidding? He’d always be the guy who lost the genetic lottery and ended up with the family curse.
Galen’s syndrome was rare, only affecting about one in 2,000, but well-known enough that most people had at least heard of it. The Greek surgeon Galen had coined the word lycanthropy to explain the shape-shifting curse that traveled down through a family tree. Like most recessive gene disorders, it only manifested when two genes were passed down to a child, leading early scholars to think the afflicted had been re-cursed or spared for a generation due to divine providence. It was only with modern medicine that curses were found to be attached to DNA, breaking and molding chromosomes like magical radiation. But despite better understanding of the disorder, the stigma remained, not helped by the occasional local television feature linking the disorder to werewolf mythology.
All Frank knew was the recessive curse gene made him even more different from his family. He’d already been pushing it when he came out as gay. Turning into a wolf at sixteen had been…well, more than his father and stepmother could handle. She wanted to protect the kids, she told him. He loved his half siblings, didn’t he? It wasn’t safe to have a wild animal around children.
It had gutted him. They turned him out of his own home. He’d been angry. He’d done something stupid, lashing out, snapping at his sister Robbie. It still hurt, remembering the tears on his baby sister’s face, her eyes wide and scared. Of him. It was then he knew his stepmother had been right. Dangerous animals didn’t belong in a family. So he’d left, traveling all the way across the state until he landed in Waycroft Falls. It had been hard that first year. There were a lot of adult things he still hadn’t figured out.
Like how to ask out a guy who he hadn’t known his whole life. Moving from one small town to another had been a bad idea. Frank bonked his head against the mirror, gazing down into the white porcelain sink. He rubbed at a stray hair that clung to the side.
But on the plus side, small towns meant he rarely needed a car. And he could shift and run if he needed. He should take his clothes with him.
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About the Author: Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, believes that adventure is around every corner. In pursuit of new experiences she's worked as a magician’s assistant, been a beauty pageant contestant, ridden in hot air balloons, produced independent movies, hiked up a volcano, and is a proud citizen scientist. A lover of genre fiction, Aidee's perfect romance has a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.
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My review for Reading Alley:
4 out of 5 stars
Wolf Around The Corner by Aidee Ladnier is a paranormal m/m romance story that features a not-quite-successful New York actor who comes back to the small town of Waycroft Falls to help his sister start her new business. He has a spark with one of her employees and convinces the man to perform in a version of “Beauty and the Beast.” It turns out he really can morph into a beast. Perfect for the play, not so great for his assimilation into the close-knit small town.
I enjoy the way this author turns common themes on end and provides a unique way of looking at things. There is an intriguing explanation for the ability of certain humans to shift into wolves with the twist of ascribing the talent to a curse. I was drawn to both main characters, each of whom has to deal with society’s perceptions and the difficulty of maintaining a façade for the world, and the delightful parallel between the play being performed and the events taking place in real life kept me invested in the story.
This is a great twist on a beloved fairy tale and a nice blend of science and fantasy. I have only read a few stories written by this talented author, but each one has impressed me with her imagination and talent for creating a compelling tale and I look forward to reading even more of her titles.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review