Title: Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl
Author: Emily Pohl-Weary
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Sometimes Living in the Big Apple Really Bites!Eighteen-year-old rock start Sam Lee isn't like other girls. She's the super-talented bass player and songwriter for an all-girl indie band and an incurable loner. Then one night after a concert in Central Park, she's attacked by a wild dog.Suddenly, this long-time vegetarian is craving meat--and the bloodier, the better. Sam finds herself with an unbelievable secret and no one she trusts to share it. And so begging the endless lies to cover up the hairy truth…When a new girl gang appears in the city--with claws and paws--Sam suspects there's a connection to her own inner beast. Trapped in a tug-of-war between her animal and human selves, forced to choose between the guy who sparked her carnal appetite and the one who makes her feel like a normal teenage girl, Sam has to unravel the mysteries of the werewolf world before her bandmates, her mother, and the media catch up to her.
Q & A with author Emily Pohl-Weary
How do you go about doing research for your work?
I don't think I do anything particularly special! For me, research usually just involves wandering around the neighborhoods my character frequents, which in this case means New York's Lower-East Side and Brooklyn (which I absolutely love). I talk to people who live there, smell things (eww!), listen to the sounds. Hmm. Now that I think about it, maybe my research process is to make like a fish and swim in my book's ocean. Really immerse myself. I listen to a soundtrack that gets me into the right headspace for writing. I read a ton--on average three novels a week, though I try to avoid anything too similar while I'm writing a book--and watch teen movies/TV shows to analyze plot twists and dialogue and get fashion ideas.
Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl from start to finish--what process did you go through while writing this book?
My writing process is a combination of haphazard writing spurts, chronic tinkering, and intense outlining. With Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, I wrote about 50 pages in a rush, then sat back and thought about where it was headed, and wrote up detailed notes that would get Sam from point A (the attack in Central Park) to point B (the end, which I won't spoil). Then I wrote and wrote and wrote and stressed and outlined and wrote and re-outlined and wrote again. Repeat that for a couple years. Once I finished a draft, I asked a bunch of writer/reader friends to give me feedback. I edited again for several months, then gave it to my agent Alison MacDonald at The Rights Factory, who is an incredibly shrewd editor. And all of this was before the publishers bought it and started their own intensive editing process. Sometimes I think it's miracle that anyone books are finished. So much work goes into them.
What are some tips for writing a story with paranormal elements?
Keep everything as realistic as possible--the way characters talk, move, think, respond, live their lives--then toss in completely unreal things, but treat them like they're normal. For Sam Lee's world, I really wanted to put myself into the head of a girl who lives in a hectic, crowded city but is terrified that her inner monster will escape. I mean, for Sam it's a monster, but for the rest of us, there's usually a secret of something we've done/that has happened to us that we really don't want strangers knowing about. Rather than fixating on the magical elements of the story, I held onto the feeling of having to hide something awful. Oh, and what it would be like to be a rising indie rock star with less and less privacy!
I didn't really know much of anything about Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl-Weary when I first started reading. I didn't have many expectations, but it I did, they would have all been met. The story was fun and engrossing, exactly what I needed it to be.
Despite being in the spotlight with her band, Sam Lee has always been a major loner. So while biking home through Central Park one night after a show, Sam finds herself alone facing down two wild dogs and fearing for her lie. And so she gets bitten, but instead of going to the hospital, she gets back on her bike to go home. And the next morning, everything feels different. Sam finds herself craving foods she's never craved, and wanting to hurt people for no reason. Add to that, two boys being for Sam's attention and a new and mysterious girl gang, and Sam finds herself having to deal with a lot more people than she can handle. So much for being a loner.
I didn't know what to expect from Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, but I certainly didn't expect what I ended up getting: an engrossing story that completely grabbed my attention. I didn't actually expect to enjoy the story as much as I did. This was just a fun story. I loved getting to know the characters, seeing Sam start to realize just how much her life was changing and come to terms with that fact. What I really enjoyed about the story though, was that despite the paranormal elements, it felt like I was reading a contemporary story the whole time. Sure, being turned into a werewolf isn't exactly realistic, but that aside, the story didn't feel paranormal at all. And I think that had a lot to do with my enjoyment of the story.
It may have taken me a few chapters to warm up to Sam, but once I did, I really liked her. I really enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell more even when I could totally relate to wanting to be alone. It was just great to see her learn to trust new people and open up to them. As far as her love interests were concerned, Harris rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. There was just something about him that was off for me, I can't really explain why. Though admittedly the same could be said about Marlon, but Marlon I definitely came around to. Once I got to know him more, I realized that he really had good intentions and that he really cared about Sam. Harris just came across as a jerk.
Emily Pohl-Weary's Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl took me by surprise. If you're not usually into paranormal stories, I recommend you give this book a try. Just like me, you might be in for a surprise.