“In order to be happy you must create something meaningful in this world and not just be a consumer of life. It is also important to share your love freely with friends and family. I believe in confronting your fears and experiencing new things, places, and people. Lastly, everyone needs something to believe in whether it be religion, a cause, or even themselves.” – Brian S. Ference
Brian lives in Cave Creek, Arizona with his wife Rachel and three children Nathan, Lena, and Victoria. He has always had a passion for reading and writing from a young age. Brian loves new experiences, which has included operating his own company, traveling the world, working as a project manager, diving with sharks, and anything creative or fun. He is always up for a new adventure such as writing or other artistic pursuits.
And now, Purgatory of the Werewolf
“Once again the Author, Brian S. Ference hit it out of the park. Purgatory of the Werewolf is excellent. Fantastic. The prose is so elegant that once you pick up the book you cannot or just do not, want to put it down.”
“Mr. Ference weaves a fantastic tell that has you at a love/hate relationship with the main character… He is able to keep the focus of the story while staying true to the historical time period this novel is set.”
When troubled and timeless Dorian Gray mysteriously survives being eaten alive, he is given a second chance at life and vows to change his ways. Now, with the werewolf killing again, time is running out to save himself and his loved ones. He flees England and enlists with the Royal Navy hoping to escape the monster. But will his ship carry him to a new life before the full moon or plunge him into the horror of war?
Okay, first question: Why werewolves?
I have always been fascinated by werewolves since being deathly afraid of them as a small child. I can remember watching the black and white Wolfman with my father on TV and the nightmares that followed. I have loved werewolves ever since and it was a natural fit for me.
There are a LOT of werewolf stories out there. What makes the werewolves in your story different?
The origin of the first werewolf is completely original. (***spoiler alert***) The painting of Dorian and the wolf cub link them together by blood. Dorian’s evil is embodied in the wolf cub who transforms into a monster. The wolf is still a wolf for most of the first book, but becomes more human-like, eventually developing thoughts and even understand words. At this point the creature is more of a wolf-were. At the end of the first book, the wolf devours Dorian, merging them together through Dorian’s strange healing power. The next morning, Dorian is somehow alive. He doesn’t realize that he and the wolf are now one, effectively making him a werewolf.
The second book is rich with different legends of werewolves, introducing the story of the Vârcolac: “The Romani people believe in a creature called the Vârcolac. The creature supposedly returned from the grave and took the form of a giant wolf. The saliva of the undead creature spread its curse, condemning any surviving victims to eternal life as a beast.” This creature makes an appearance in the back-story of our monster hunter Van Helsing and there is a bit of mystery if there are two different types of werewolves in the world.
I thought I had heard it all when it came to werewolves. What else don’t I know about the Vârcolac?
One of my reader’s actually provides such a thorough overview I am just going to quote Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU:
“A varcolac in Romanian folklore may refer to several different figures, a wolf demon that, like the Norse Fenris, can and may swallow the moon and the sun, thus causing eclipses. Some legends say it is a ghost or vampire (Strigoi) while others say it is a werewolf (in some versions, a werewolf that emerges from the corpses of babies. Varcolaci are said to be souls of unbaptized children or children of unmarried parents; beings cursed by God rising because one swept dust out of the house at sunset (understand if you can); or beings coming from the sun rising if women spin at night without a candle or if they cast spells as they spin.
Varcolaci are often described as dogs, always two in number; animals smaller than dogs; dragons; animals with multiple mouth, such as octopus; spirits. Varcolaci are said to fasten themselves to the thread of people spinning at midnight, then going up to eat the moon and cover it with blood, hence the reference to the blood moon in this story. Their power is said to last as long as the thread that here ties them up to Dorian in the picture, hence the real Dorian, is not broken. If the thread gets broken, they go to another part of the sky.
Varcolaci are recognized by their pale faces, as well as the deep sleep they fall into when sending their spirits out through their mouths to eat the sun or the moon. If they are moved during their sleep they die as their returning spirit won’t be able to find the mouth where they came from.”
You mentioned Van Helsing. He’s pretty typical auto-include for a werewolf or vampire story. A lot of authors just rely on his long history as a character in innumerable stories and movies to give him depth. How is YOUR Van Helsing different?
Doctor Nicolai Van Helsing is very different than you may expect. His rich back-story reveals his motivations to hunt wolves and monsters stemming from his parents brutal slaughter by a Vârcolac. He develops some amazing weapons including Demon Fire but there is more to Van Helsing than meets the “eye”. I have to laugh a little at that reference. During an encounter with a Demon, Van Helsing has his eye put out and is cursed. He kills the Demon but the curse stays with him. Then his eye grows back larger and diseased. A Demon eye has sprouted which allows him to control the curse and twist it to his advantage.
Some reviews have lauded your research and historical accuracy in Purgatory of the Werewolf. Are you a history buff? What kind of places are in the book that you had to research?
Let me just throw a disclaimer in here:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I find it incredibly interesting to research different cultures and histories. The second book takes us from small villages in Romania, to a werewolf terrorizing London, naval battles with the Royal Navy, and to the Forbidden City in China. History buffs will appreciate some of the historically accurate items including battles, city names, ships, nods to other horror and literature, weapons, and even the Second Opium War where England and France joined forces to invade China.
In the 1981 film, American Werewolf in London, the transformation scene amazed the world. Werewolves were always popular, but I have always thought of that particular scene as what gave rise to the overwhelming popularity of the “modern” werewolf.
Since then, the transformation is always part of what makes or breaks the werewolf story or movie for me. The pain and horror of it is part of the werewolf mystique. So… Can we get a sneak peek at a transformation scene from Purgatory of the Werewolf?
“Dorian was fast asleep as a bone-white moon rose, bright and full in the night sky. He awoke screaming as the transformation began with his ribs and the bones in his back splitting. His body began healing immediately, but it was remaking itself—wrong. Fire raked through his veins as his chest and back swelled. Dorian looked down in horror as the skin on his hands blackened and stretched. The bones in his forearms and hands separated and then healed as his muscles swelled and his arms elongated. Sharp claws sprouted and punctured through the middle of his fingernails as they grew.
“He doubled over in agony, rolling to the floor as the bones in his legs shattered and doubled in length and size to support the expanding muscles. His breaths came in ragged bursts as his mind fought against the excruciating pain. Blood pooled in his eyes and clouded his vision. The red fluid trickled from his ears and fell from his mouth, the skin tearing while his jaw cracked and reformed. He could feel the nerves in his teeth explode as jagged canines pushed through the center of each tooth at once.
Dorian struggled to stand and failed. Instead, he fell to all fours arching his back as he rode the convulsions that racked his mutilated body. His heart erupted and healed as his lungs first collapsed, then mushroomed out as they burst and reformed. Every hair follicle in his body sprouted a thick black shoot at the same time.
The worst pain, however, came from the battle raging inside his head. His very being tore away in chunks of memories and emotions and in place fell vile and animalistic thoughts. He tried to fight against the overwhelming thirst for blood, but he did not know how. The need to hunt washed over him like the unstoppable flow of a raging river, swelling to an uncontrollable force by the unending rains of rage and brutality.
The screaming stopped as an elongated red eye focused on the unfamiliar surroundings. The massive wolf’s body shivered with power as the transformation was complete. The creature was a long way from the forest, but it had hunted in the cities of men before. A single thought dominated the mind of the wolf above all others—kill.”
Werewolf stories are notoriously bloody, how did you approach writing these scenes? Can we get another taste?
I tried to describe everything from fight scenes, to weapons, to architecture as accurately and vividly as possible while still being somewhat concise. This means that some of the violence and werewolf scenes are going to be quite bloody as is fitting within the horror or dark fantasy genres. Here’s a little taste:
“He pulled his halberd from the chest of the great wolf. Blood gushed from the werewolf’s chest and it sank to one knee. Baltu circled it slowly, waiting for as many eyes as possible before delivering the death stroke. But suddenly the creature rose to his full height and rumbled a challenge. In response, the elite guard casually drew a curved sabre from his belt and threw it end-over-end into the wolf’s stomach. The steel blade sunk deep into the creature’s intestines, causing it to stagger and fall once more to one knee. Baltu sensed the moment was right and swung his halberd in a wide circle around his head, intending to embed the blade deep in the werewolf’s neck.
The creature’s hand shot up and caught the heavy pole, halting the blade just centimeters away from his face. No one had ever stopped one of Baltu’s attacks before. The werewolf’s other hand shot out, its claws raking Baltu’s chest. But his armor was finely made and the iron plating screeched in defiance, protecting him from harm. Baltu spun away, leaving his halberd in the werewolf’s unyielding grip. He laughed and drew a short scimitar from his belt.
He switched his throaty song to the contest of Jangar and Altan Gheej; a warrior who could see into the future. Baltu ran towards the werewolf as if in an attempt to retrieve his halberd. The beast seemed to sense his need for the weapon and pulled it back while preparing its own attack. At the last moment, Baltu rolled away from the weapon and under the werewolf’s swipe. Rising to his feet, he drove the scimitar upward between the creature’s arm and shoulder blade.
The werewolf grunted in pain and dropped the halberd into the waiting hands of the warrior, who dove to recover it. The spear of another infantryman bit into the back of the creature’s calf, pinning him just long enough for a nearby mounted archer…”
For our D&D players out there: What are the means of killing a werewolf in your stories?
The two books have not ventured into the typical methods like silver so we are unsure if that has any effect. The Vârcolac is killed by a bullet through the eyes but the werewolves are much harder to kill since they have healing powers. A female werewolf is killed by Demon Fire but decapitation or significant injury after draining their healing power and no food source to replenish that healing would also do it.
Love the cover. How did you decide on it/create it?
That is definitely a unique part of my books. I really enjoy designing my own covers and have even redesigned the first book a number of times. I’d like to share some of the different cover design concepts below.
The whiteout cover was my first concept and one of my favorite. There were actually about 30 books printed with that cover and may one day become a collector’s item. The dark blue was the longest running, and I have recently re-launched book one with the red cover which will stay.
So, the inevitable question: What’s next?
After spending some time marketing my second book I will begin work on the third book in the series tentatively titled Rise of the Werewolf Queen. I would really like to thank Art of the Arcane for taking the time to interview me, it has been a blast!
Thank you Brian for taking the time to talk with us!
You can learn more at www.brianference.com. You can also find him on Facebook, follow him on BookBub, via @brianferenz on Twitter, on Instagram (brianference) or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages. Last but not least, you can also find him on werewolfbook.com.
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