Is Your Shifter Naked? C.D. Hersh on Shifter Clothing (and Win a Book)

Don’t know if any of you have been keeping up with the “Battle of the Books” featuring going on at the Fantastic Reviews website, but River Road has advanced to the semifinals after beating out Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Rough Rider. It’s a fun idea.

Please join me in welcoming “co-authors” C.D. Hersh to Preternatura today. They are stopping by today to talk about a very interesting subject: clothing and shapeshifters. They are excited about the upcoming release of their new book, Blood Brothers. Blood Brothers will be published in the summer of 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing and will be the second book in their The Turning Stone Chronicles series.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. Together they have co-authored a number of dramas, six which have been produced in Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. Their most recent collaborative writing efforts have been focused on romance. The first book of their paranormal romance series entitled The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) is available on Amazon. You can learn more about C.D. by visiting their website, on facebook or by following them on twitter.

Blood Brothers CoverABOUT BLOOD BROTHERS: When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda. The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.

And now, let’s hear from Catherine and Donald…

Clothing in the paranormal world of shape shifters

Paranormal worlds are fun to create, but one of the biggest issues writers have to deal with when writing about were-animals is the clothing problem. Traditionally, were-animals remove their clothes, or shed their skins if they are animals changing to humans, in order to accommodate their human/animal shifts. In the case of some, like selkies (seals who become humans), they also have to have their clothes (or skins) back in order to change back to humans.

Having to remove clothing before shifting into animals can be advantageous when the author wants to get the couple together, naked. Needing one’s clothing to return to human form can also create humorous situations, especially when the shifter is trying to hide why they are running around in their birthday suits.

When we began to develop our world of shape shifters, we had to address hersh_smallthe clothing issue, in more than one way. Not only do our shifters become animals, but they can take other human forms, too. So, clothing created an additional challenge for us. Should we take the traditional route and have the shifters hide their clothes before becoming animals? Or should we just let their clothing disappear and reappear without explanation?

After bouncing several ideas off each other we decided that we would utilize the magic of the magical bloodstone ring, that is primarily responsible for the shape shifting in our world, to our advantage when addressing clothing issues, with a few twists. The magic in the ring would allow an animal shift to absorb the wearer’s clothing. The ring would become an integral invisible part of the animal, as would anything else on or in the shifter’s body or clothing. Except for the ring’s magic, nothing on his human form would be accessible to the shifter when he was in animal form. This rule allowed the shifter to be able to blend rapidly into the animal or human world and thus keep the action scenes moving. Unfortunately, this meant no humorous birthday suit scenarios or convenient naked scenes, but that was okay, since we decided to make the human shifting follow different rules.

When our characters shift from male to female, their clothing does not change. This rule has created its own set of problems. We have to be careful that we choose appropriate clothing when our characters are going to shift. A rapid exchange of clothes had to be written in one scene when one shifter mimicked another shifter and was about to be caught. We also had a few interesting male /female shifting scenarios created by this rule, especially when a male shifter ends up in decidedly female clothes. It’s not often that you see a male walking down the street in a dress, or tottering on high heels. Fortunately, with the unisex nature of clothing today, this shifting rule hasn’t created a huge problem for us the writers.

However, it did create a conundrum for the police and our main characters in our first book The Promised One. In this story a shape shifter is murdered and returns to the natural persona: a man. The problem was he had been shifted into a smaller female whose dress did not fit well over his muscular male body. Trying to keep the police from drawing the wrong conclusions keeps the main characters busy coming up with plausible explanations for a man in a dress that is too small for him.

The following is the excerpt from The Promised One that points out the issue:

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”
With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.
“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.
Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.
He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.
The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.
A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.
Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?
Terrified, Shaw fled.
The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

As you can see the change can be quite startling when not expected. Shape shifters can have a rather costly garment expense unless they are careful.

In our second book, Blood Brothers due out this summer, none of our characters have apparel problems. Currently, the first book in the series, The Promised One, is published in both Kindle and paperback.

Thanks Catherine and Donald. One of the fun things for us is that we often get to make up our own rules as we write. So what do you think? I’ve seen shifter clothes done both ways. In both the Sentinels series and Penton, my shifters’ clothes do not transfer so they’re always having to deal with it. Plus, it lets me write lines for DJ like, “Hell, Alex, take off your pants” when she wanted him to shift and prove to Ken that what they were telling him about the existence of shifters was true.

Leave a comment telling about any unique or humorous shifters and clothing issues you may have read and you can be entered to win your choice of books in this series!

19 thoughts on “Is Your Shifter Naked? C.D. Hersh on Shifter Clothing (and Win a Book)

  1. In the Jane Yellowrock series, Jane has a special pouch she wears around her neck when she is in her cat form, so when she shifts she always has her clothes with her. Then she has to eat a gazillion calories to make up for energy she expended!

    • Liz – A magic pouch, that’s an interesting solution. We love the gazillion calories idea. Would make for a great diet. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Suzanne – Thanks so much for hosting us today. Naked shifting definitely has multiple solutions with each having unintended consequences. 🙂

  3. Yes the jane yellowrock situation does have a lot of humourous situation….her pouch isn’t magical so it can be a problem itself when she shift ina larger animal and forgot to enlarge the “necklace”. She can change is different animal but the mass must be consistent so if she wants to change in a larger animal then her form she must take mass from stone ( better to have some around) and the leave it back when returning to human.

    mercy thompson had quite a few moment when she forgot her clothes too if i remember right^^ ( better not to be too shy)

    i haven’t read anything when teh shifter could take other human appearances not of his own sex… i’m sure it can leads to funny experience when the change wasn’t programmed and they are not prepared… or they need a backpack with a large unisex wardrobe with them all the time.
    the ring stone seems a good solution

  4. I can’t remember what book it was but I remember a story where a shifter was naked and trying to sneak into an apartment in a city.

  5. I love the idea of shifting into a whole different human form. Male/female or vice versa. That’s different from the canon, for sure.
    I had just finished reading a shifter novella where the shifters in their camps were simply naked when in human form. They only dressed if expecting to rendezvous with human contacts. This I thought was an interesting way to handle the clothes issue.
    And, of course, my fave shifter has to be Prof. McGonigle, who, as it turns out, shifted with clothing intact.

  6. I read a book where the clothes just seem to appear. I don’t think they shifted, just appeared. I need to find the book & re-read. Maybe I missed something.

    • That reminds Donald of one he read where they had to think about the cloths when they shifted. Thanks for the comment.

  7. The only ones I could think of were the Jane Yellowrock and Mercy Thompson. I have read quite a few where they tore their clothes or lost them or such so when they changed back they had nothing. Which can lead to a lot of fun situations.

    • That is exactly what happened in our first book when one of the shifters got killed while mimic shifted as a small woman. When he returned to his normal ego, a man, his dress was ripped and shoes were too small. Made for an interesting scene and difficult for the family to explain.

  8. Somebody here can probably correct me if I’m wrong, but while Mercy has clothing issues, I think Charles in the Alpha and Omega series has magically appearing clothes–tied to his Native American magic, I’m thinking….