Today's post is one I've been hoping for since the dawn of time. That's right, it's pretty much a dream come true. The second this post arrived I lost all coherent thought, but that's okay since my guest needs no special introduction. She is #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs. She's brilliant and you know it. :)
After you read this, make sure to visit Tressa@Tressa's Wishful Endings: Melissa Wright: Bound by Prophecy.
I'll leave you to Patty.
On Werewolf Behavior and Body Language
by Patricia Briggs
Most people don’t pay conscious attention to body language because we are taught to communicate by word and by tone. Unconsciously, though, the impact of body language is huge. If you don’t believe me, the next time you get in an elevator, pick a person and stare into their eyes.
I was heavily involved in drama club when I was in high school and took a class or two in college, too. That’s where I learned to use body language to convey both emotion and to direct attention away from me. On stage, shoulder position is better than facial expression to convey emotion. That’s also where I learned how hard it is to stare closely into another person’s eyes without laughing because the “unnatural” intimacy forces most people to try to convey that they understand that such direct eye-contact is an aggressive imposition.
Once I was aware of body language, I put it to immediate use in two areas.
I am a horse person. When I was very young, perhaps influenced by C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and his Boy, I wanted to have the ability to speak with horses. It was only when I was older that I discovered that horses speak more eloquently with their body than people do with words. If my gelding pinned his ears at another horse in the pasture, that meant “back off or face the consequences”. I soon learned to use my own body to communicate back. A square stance, rapid pace, and aggressively looking a horse in the eye can send a horse to other side of the pasture--which is fine unless you are trying to catch them. I find it ironic that a lot of “training” a horse is teaching them to speak our language, though we are supposed to be the smarter species.
Just about the time I was discovering all this about horses, I met Mike, figured out just what a rare man he was, and married him before he could get away. Smartest thing I ever did. And through Mike, I met his family, terrific, wonderful lovely people. When readers ask me how I came up with my werewolves and how they interact, I point them at my husband’s family.
Mike is the oldest of seven kids. Including parents and kids it makes nine, and I don’t think there is a single type B or nondominant person in the whole bunch. Mike’s dad is a marine (and so is his uncle). Mike’s brother (the tall and easy-going one) is prone to say, “I don’t think you guys get it. I am only tall and easy-going if the only people you compare me to is my family.” Intense doesn’t even come close. They grew up in the woods of Montana (not too far from where Bran’s pack lives) and most of them, especially the women, travel armed at all times. They love each other to death and the only reason they are all alive and happy--and they are a happy family--is because they are quick-thinking, quick on their feet, and they pay attention to body language.
And when, in college, I did a lot of studying about wolves (partially because Mike’s sister had a 15/16th wolf), I realized that his family operated, as closely as a human family could, like a wolf pack. They care about each other and they each have well-defined, if sometimes changing, roles in the family. All of the rules, mostly unspoken, are designed to create a healthy family environment and produce healthy (in mind and body) people who would (and did) go out and be happy healthy people--with a more highly developed sense of survival than most people.
Here are a few more specific examples of how the Briggs clan is a little different from other people. I can remember when, in my first book, I had my spy character travel between her work and her home a different way every day, my editor told me that “people don’t do that”. Funny, I thought, my husband does. My husband walks into a restaurant and when we leave, he can tell me how many people where there, where they were sitting, what they were talking about (his hearing is abnormally good--and he pays attention) and how many people were carrying concealed weapons.
Mike’s father taught him to drive. A typical lesson went like this: He’d take Mike up on snow-covered dirt roads in the mountains of Montana (think rugged and remote) and then he’d say, “You are being pursued by hostiles. Your right arm is broken and your clutch doesn’t work. Escape and evade. If your speed drops below forty you are dead.” My husband is a very, very good driver.
I take inspiration where I find it.
Patricia Briggs was born in Butte, Montana to a children’s librarian who passed on to her kids a love of reading and books. Patricia grew up reading fairy tales and books about horses, and later developed an interest in folklore and history. When she decided to write a book of her own, a fantasy book seemed a natural choice. Patricia graduated from Montana State University with degrees in history and German and she worked for a while as a substitute teacher. Currently, she lives in Montana with her husband, children and six horses and writes full-time, much to the delight of her fans.
Patty has generously agreed to send out one signed Mercy Thomson book. This giveaway is for US residents only. Lest my international readers be sad, a second copy will be sent out internationally, thanks to the lovely people at Orbit UK. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.a Rafflecopter giveaway