Monday, 20 January 2014

By way of explanation

I’ve recently had a number of reviews for The Wolf’s Call that express annoyance at my use of the pronoun it for one of the characters, a dog named Bob. The upset doesn’t come as a surprise for me – my editor Lee Burton warned me about it already when he was editing the book, but as I had an explanation for it he accepted, the pronoun stayed. So, for those who have been upset by it, here is the explanation.

A Newfie very much like Bob.
My Two-Natured London is a world where some of the people are genetically different from regular humans. That genetic mutation manifests as a three different two-natured races: vampires, shifters, and sentients, which are my unique creation. Humans lack the means to detect the two-natured, which makes them suspicious of everyone around them. And while most humans can pretend everyone is human, the two-natured aren’t universally tolerated by the one-natured.

That applies especially to the shifters. There are cat and dog-shifters in my world too, which makes matters more confusing for humans. As the shifters have a human form, they are referred to as he or she, even in animal form. The intolerant humans insist on making the difference between natural and shifter animals by referring to their natural pets with the pronoun it. I’ve also imagined a zealot faction among humans who would use it for pets, so that no one would think they consorted with shifters, but also, as an insult, for shifters.

The practice isn’t universal among the humans of my world. But Charly, the heroine, grew up in a family that most definitely would have kept to the practice, hence her use of it. She will grow out of it eventually. Rafe, as a shifter, doesn’t have the same reason for the use of the pronoun, but because I didn’t want to confuse the readers too badly from the start, he ends up using it in the book too. In comparison, the third book that features vampires and shifters without humans does not make the same distinction between the pets and shifters.

When readers first began to note the pronoun, I considered changing it. However, since it’s logical within the world I’ve created, I decided not to. While it doesn’t work very well in the first book, I didn’t want to tie my hands for the later books. So, as it is, I simply have to bear the disgruntled reviews. Maybe one day I’ll write a book where it all becomes clear.

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