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Taking a Werewolf Haunt Jaunt to the Morvan

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River in a forest in Burgundy. Photo by Liam Heffer
River in a forest in Burgundy. Photo by Liam Heffer

Today, in honor of Flashes in the Dark posting my story, “Between the Wolf and the Dog,” I’m going to make a sort of a different Haunt Jaunt. In fact, today you might notice an International theme.

I’ll launch the journey with this post on France’s Morvan forest. Later this afternoon I’ll jaunt over to Italy’s Poveglia Island. I’ll wrap things up this evening Down Under.

This first post might appeal to cryptozoology enthusiasts like Gummerfan the Monster Hunter, as well as ghost enthusiasts who appreciate French Haunt Jaunts like Jessica of Ghost Stories and Haunted Places. (And, Jessica, if you read this and know of any haunted places in this region that you’ve written about, please feel free to post your links in the comments. I would love to read them!)

USING FRANCE’S WEREWOLF LORE

I learned of the Morvan as I was researching places in which to set my first book, Beneath the Morvan Moon. I’d gotten the idea after reading about a real-life case in Romania where a woman sued to have her husband’s head finally buried with his body.

Why was his head buried separately from his body in the first place?

Fifty years earlier the villagers feared he was a vampire and beheaded him. They  buried his head separately to prevent him from coming back to life. (That is a TRUE case!)

I decided to do what writers do and inject that story with some fiction to make it my own. I was out of my vampire phase at that point. I wanted a different monster. But what?

When I started researching werewolf lore, I was drawn to France’s rich wolf-story history. I learned of some real life lycanthropy cases (like Jean Grenier).

Except their werewolf transformations were not just bite-induced and full moon-influenced. Some required a wizard who bestowed upon the cursed a cloak made of wolf fur. (FYI, That legend is what I based “Between the Wolf and the Dog” on, a.k.a. the story that’s on Flashes in the Dark today and inspired this bit-o-Haunting Jaunting fun.)

That’s all it took to get the ideas flowing. Frail, old, near-death grandma gives her granddaughter a map marked with two Xs and asks her to make sure her former lover gets a proper burial. Add in some wolves, another character in search of his family’s heirloom cloak (which he knows has werewolf properties and plans to use for evil), the cloak selling antique dealer (and heroine’s love interest)…I had the makings for my story. But exactly which part of France to set it all in?

NO GOOD WIND AND NO GOOD PEOPLE

In Burgundy, the French have a saying: “No good wind and no good people ever came out of the Morvan.

When I came across the above saying, BINGO!, I knew I had my place. Even before I researched further and discovered the Morvan was forested and would make a good haven for wolves.

Except, as far as I know no wolves roam the Morvan these days. (Or, like the fictional pack in my book, do they but they stay so well hidden that no one knows about them?)

Nor do any werewolves, but with its history (it was a preferred hideout for many criminals over the centuries because it was so harsh and inaccessible) how do we know none ever roamed there? Or that their progeny doesn’t still linger behind to this day? (Or that the Wizard of the Wolves himself ever lurked there?)

Aside from criminals, other groups who’ve called the Morvan home over the years include the Gauls. They were among the area’s very first inhabitants. And Celtic mythology, legends, and folklore prevail to this day. (Another reason it appealed to me.)

Druids, other religious orders, and royalty have also both reigned in this area. Wars have been fought on its soil. For a long time logging  was the major industry there.

Such a diversified history of legends and inhabitants has certainly given it quite the character.

THE MORVAN TODAY

The last thing I want to do is give anyone a bad taste for this place. Magical, mystical and mysterious though its past may have been, it’s also a beautiful area. (See the picture below for an example.)

a house somewhere in Burgundy... (image from stock.xchng)
a house somewhere in Burgundy... (image from stock.xchng)

In fact, today the Massif Central-Morvan (in 2005 the European Union joined the region with the Massif Central and recategorized it as a mountainous zone) is a green tourism hot spot. (I’m holding out hope that one day paranormal tourism might also catch on too.)

WHERE TO STAY

I created a fictional Chambres d’Hôtes (B&B) in the fictional village of Brevard for my book, but here are three real-life places to stay in the Morvan:

WHAT TO SEE

Probably a must on any Haunt Jaunter’s list would be Quarre-Les-Tombes and the 112 empty sarcophagi surrounding its church’s square. Why they’re empty, no one knows. It’s a great mystery. But near here you’ll also find the dolmen in the Fôret au Duc.

The lands of Château-Chinon afford views of the three crosses of the Calvary.

And Anost, even though it’s a popular tourist center, also has great path-access to the forest. (In case you want to go in search of the Wizard of the Wolves…)

BENEATH THE MORVAN MOON

I don’t normally plug my book anymore. For one, it’s been out for almost six years now. A person gets tired of promo!

But more importantly the publisher priced it way too high. (To begin with, then jacked up the price even more a couple of years ago!)

However, when I went to Amazon today to link it up here, I noticed new copies are going for the bargain rate of $2.85!

So…I figured it wouldn’t hurt to include the cover below.

But if you do buy it, beware. Notice how I said “first book” and not “debut novel”? (I used to call it the latter…until I realized what a freshmen effort BTMM was.) I made the common beginner’s mistake of doing WAY to much set up for the first 100 pages.

However, if you make it past that point it becomes a fast-paced read.

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ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
http://www.courtneymroch.com

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6 thoughts on “Taking a Werewolf Haunt Jaunt to the Morvan

  1. Caution: You’ve initiated my inner critic on this one.

    But anyways, this was pretty cool. I love werewolves! They’re my favorite creature of the night. I suppose behind demons and zombies, they’re the one “monster” that makes a continuous show in my work as well. I read your short “Between the Wolf and the Dog” (which is a really awesome and original title BTW). It’s interesting to see a werewolf story set in such a traditional yet unusual (for our time at least) setting. My small critique on this would be the unusual use of dialogue. The Americans spoke and seemed very contemporary and yet the French seemed to act and speak as if a time warp into the 15th century had occurred. But maybe you meant this purposely as a way to convey this area’s isolation from the modern world a la Dracula? But interesting non the less….

  2. Hi Grim!

    WOW! THANKS! I appreciate you reading my story!!! But I also like it “initiated” your inner critic. (Hey, that’s all part of the game. I can take it!)

    I loved your observations. It was a point I had not taken into consideration, and wouldn’t have, because I wasn’t aware I’d done that dialogue-wise!

    The ONLY thing that bums me out about your insight is…where was it before I submitted the story??? (hehe, we didn’t even know each other then. Still, it was a good point. Wish I’d caught that beforehand. I was trying to make them sound foreign…but not from another time!)

    FYI, Autumnforest will have one up on the 28th. I did get to read hers ahead of time. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say, once I read hers I knew mine didn’t stand a chance in the contest. Still, at least I got published.

    OH…and I’m a zombie nut too! Very cool to meet yet another one! (Jessica from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places also shares an affinity for Zs!)

  3. I guess I’ll have to open a critique shop. I have extensive experience believe it or not.

    I’m very interested in reading autumnforest’s story as well. Guess, I’ll just have to wait. And you’ll need to keep me in the loop regarding some of these writing contests. I’d really like to enter but never know where to find any!

    And yes, we really should all form our own zombie following. We could prepare for the coming apocalypse. Someone needs to keep an eye out for those bastards!

  4. Groovy! I’ll put you on my list of people to tell about writing ops I come across. I love sharing them. And I do believe there’s still time if you have any 1,000 word or under werewolf stories if you want to jump in on the fun at Flashes in the Dark.

    And I love it! A Zombie Blogger Coalition…together, we can survive the apocalypse!

  5. Great post! Yeah, I’d love to do some monster hunting in the “old countries”. France has quite a rich werewolf and vampire tradition. It’d be awesome to do some investigations in those places where so many monster/cryptid traditions began.

  6. Thanks Gummerfan! Your comment was intriguing. Do you know your roots? What if you get your love for monster hunting from some ancestor who used to do it over there way back when??? (Hmmm…you might have also sparked a story idea.)

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