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Novel's heroine fights variety of were-beings

Wendy N. Wagner will debut her fantasy-adventure story about Vikings, lycanthropes and the ties of motherhood.

“Lycanthrope” can mean any kind of werecreature, not just werewolves. In Wagner’s novel titled “Skinwalkers,” all the shapeshifters are “skinwalkers,” or people who use animal pelts to change their shape, so readers will get plenty of werewolves, were-cougars, were-grizzlies and even a pair of nasty were-sharks.by: WENDY WAGNER - Book cover of 'Skinwalkers.'

To celebrate the launch of her first novel, she will be reading from “Skinwalkers” at 7 p.m. on Friday at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd., in Beaverton. Set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder roleplaying game, Wagner’s most ambitious literary effort to date is part of Paizo Press’s Pathfinder Tales series.

“Skinwalkers” is the action-packed story of Jendara, a single mother and retired pirate trying to make a new life for herself and her son. But when a strange clan of shapeshifting raiders pillages her home, there’s no choice for Jendara but to take up her axes to help her new community defend all that they hold dear.

Wagner lives in Milwaukie with her husband and daughter, and, in many ways, she’s nothing like her heroine.

“She’s a fierce warrior who is used to danger — and I’m a klutz who works a desk job,” she said. “But we’re both mothers, and maybe a little bit overprotective.”

Although she had never written a character like her, Jendara sprang into Wagner’s mind fully formed, with her own rich back story and a full cast of friends and family. In Jendara’s first adventure, she was ready to take on an entire village of strangers who she thought were standing between her and her son. Then she winds up fighting off vicious goblins.

“I hope I never have to do anything like that for my daughter, but I’d certainly be willing to,” Wagner said. by: SUBMITTED  - Wagner

Wagner grew up on the Oregon Coast, in a town so remote it had neither grocery store nor television reception. When the bookmobile came every two weeks, she joined the crowd of locals to explore its latest offerings. Books became her lifeline, her window into the outside world, and, soon, an obsession.

Although she had read lots of game tie-in novels as a kid, Wagner had never engaged in a role-playing game before she was hired to write short stories for Pathfinder. But she had always liked the idea of writing fantasy adventures. After her first serial appeared in Pathfinder’s Web Fiction series, fan response was so positive the gaming company asked her to write a novel for them.

“Not many people get to live out their childhood dreams like that,” she said.

Besides her stories written for Pathfinder, Wagner’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the Lovecraft eZine and Innsmouth magazine, as well as anthologies including “Armored,” “The Way of the Wizard” and “Rigor Amortis.” She is the managing editor of Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines and an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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