||Breur Media Corporation
Werewolves are real and the world has mobilized, brutally, to crush both the contagion that creates them and the individuals who have become infected. After Russell Shepard narrowly survives a werewolf attack, he is haunted by dreams of a place and time he has never been, and hunted by those who would end his life immediately, without remorse. He is propelled along a path that will bring him face to face with the forces determined to contain and destroy the threat he himself now represents.
Barnes & Noble.com
Russell Shepard was just a boy when the first footage of a living werewolf was authenticated and broadcast. As he grew, the lycanthropic outbreak was a constant. During Russell’s adolescence he watched with the rest of the world as “outbreak” turned into “epidemic.” Now, as an adult, the epidemic had become a pandemic, reaching every nation and turning the scientific community on its head.
Still, those unfortunate few who’d been contaminated remained a notable minority. Spectacular research facilities peppered the globe, designed to study the infection. Specially trained urban tactical units protected the population at large, capturing and containing the creatures for analysis until a cure could be developed.
All of this fascinated Russell, as it did everyone he knew, but there was an entire global community dedicated to helping the victims of lycanthropic infection and eventually producing a cure. There was no need to panic. At least that was what Russell had been told all his life by television personalities and politicians alike. Just don’t do anything stupid. Follow the rules and the odds of encountering an actual werewolf would remain blissfully remote.
And so Russell’s consideration of werewolves remained passive. It remained passive, that is, until the night he was bitten.
This is a darker, more dangerous Joshua Dagon — more engaging and thought-provoking than ever, boldly dissecting and detailing the timeless dangers that confront humanity in every age, in every society.
Exerpts from Into the Mouth of the Wolf, The Fallen, and Demon Tears may be accessed at www.joshuadagon.com
Into the Mouth of the Wolf
Writer Joshua Dagon has created an original, supernatural allegory with his novel Into the Mouth of the Wolf, and for perhaps one of the first times, has written about a gay werewolf. The fact that werewolves exist so casually and naturally in Dagon’s world makes the reader believe the events unfolding in the story might actually be true!
A well-written and intelligent tale, "Into the Mouth of the Wolf" is the story of Russell Shepard, a rich young man who, when we first meet him, has brought a one-night stand to his father’s cabin in the woods. Instead of getting his date into bed, Russell watches in horror as he is snatched away by a wolf, ripped to shreds, and left for dead. Russell, too, has been bitten by the wolf, but survives and begins to transform. He is taken away to a research site where is studied intently by a team of researchers, resolved to find a way to tame the beast. What the researchers don’t realize is that once Russell is bitten by the wolf, there’s no way he’ll be the person he once was.
Dagon wisely chooses to write Russell from the first person point-of-view, often times using a stream-of-consciousness technique, but not to overbearing effect. He also injects a lot of humor into the story, as Russell doesn’t try to take what’s going on too seriously. His character is also strongly attracted to Curt (his straight werewolf friend), but Dagon doesn’t make Russell out to be a leering sex fiend. The allegory is that the werewolf outbreak has now turned into an epidemic, and Dagon is comparing this to the AIDS epidemic and the gay lifestyle in general. Werewolves, if they were sexual at all, were all pretty much straight in the past; Dagon has bought them out of the closet, so to speak.
Biting Commentary: Werewolves and HIV
Biting Commentary: Werewolves and HIV
by James Wortman
In the spirit of Halloween, POZ talks with author Joshua Dagon about his latest novel, Into the Mouth of the Wolf.
Real-life horrors are sometimes best dealt with by recasting them in the realm of fiction. Such is the case with author Joshua Dagon (The Fallen, Demon Tears). In his latest novel, Into the Mouth of the Wolf ($18.95, Breur Media Corp.), Dagon uses werewolves—a centuries-old folkloric mainstay—to dissect HIV, a far more modern monster.
Russell Shepard, the book’s protagonist, grows up knowing that werewolves exist. However, due to a general malaise toward werewolf—or lycanthropic—infection worldwide, he never feels as though he’s at risk. That is, of course, until the night he is bitten.
In the spirit of Halloween, POZ sat down with Dagon, 34, to talk about the unlikely pairing of werewolves and HIV and why we all must fight—tooth and nail—to keep AIDS from slinking back into the shadows.
What intrigued you about werewolves that inspired you to write a book about them?
Well, actually, my publisher [Arthur Breur] and I discussed the potency of that metaphor even months before I tested positive in 2005. We thought it was kind of relevant that basically the intimacy involved in the spread of the contagion was a parallel. And the fact that it turns someone into a monster. After I was infected, I kind of felt like a monster. I felt tainted.
One of the book’s main ideas is that there is a complacency about this infection. Do you feel that’s the case with HIV/AIDS in the real world?
You know, I do. I think there’s a general apathy toward it right now. I mean, there are degrees between certain people. You have the whole barebacking movement. But then you also have this younger generation that doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s not a subject that’s comfortable for them.
I know that before I was infected, I didn’t want to talk about it. It made me uncomfortable.
How do you personally relate to your main character, Russell Shepard? How do you hope your readers relate to him?
Well, I hope the readers will be empathetic with his position. And I relate to him in the way that he’s basically numb, and he goes through that stage where he thinks he can get away with not telling anyone what happened. But of course he realizes quickly that that’s ridiculous. And then, as you follow the story, he just kind of goes with the flow without really making a lot of decisions on his own. Without really accepting responsibility for his condition. And I hope that people can see how easy that that can be. There’s a temptation [as with HIV] to just follow along and not talk about it and just kind of let other people tell you what to do.
Have you gotten any feedback from readers living with HIV?
I’ve heard from counselors. In fact, an HIV counselor bought like 20 copies of it. She thought it was very potent. And that’s the only feedback that I’ve gotten. But no, I haven’t had the chance to talk to someone who’s read it and is HIV positive.
How is werewolf stigma similar to HIV/AIDS stigma?
I grew up with HIV on the news, and it was always considered to be the result of a chosen lifestyle. “You chose the lifestyle, you put yourself at risk and it’s your fault.” And basically, people just ignored the fact that someone was exposed to a virus. That’s what happened. No one goes out and looks for it. And in the book, it’s even more ridiculous.
I think it’s human nature for people to try to distance themselves from something that frightens them. They would make up these rules and try to find ways to separate their lives and their lifestyles from people who would be at risk for the infection.
And do you hope that readers will make that connection to HIV/AIDS on their own, or do you think that message is more subversive?
That’s a funny question. To me, I think it’s the most obvious thing in the first four pages that people will automatically make that connection [to HIV/AIDS]. I was afraid that the metaphor would be stupidly obvious. My publisher vehemently disagreed with me, and in fact, some of the reviews had compared it to other conditions, like hepatitis or cancer. It showed me a lot of different ways that the story can be interpreted. So personally, I think that people will immediately draw the connection. But that hasn’t been the case.
As a writer, does using allegory free you up to take on complex issues such as those surrounding HIV/AIDS?
For me, yeah. It was a lot easier for me to write about this kind of thing using that metaphor. And werewolves kind of fascinate me anyway.
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