Bethany Wiggins and the Legend of Skinwalkers

The Happiness Project has a special treat for you today, author Bethany Wiggins is here today talking about her new book Shifting and how she makes time to write and play.  Today you’ll learn about the dare she couldn’t refuse, the legend of skinwalkers, and why she can’t get enough of young adult books! 

Bethany Wiggins

 Bethany Wiggins is a reader and daydreamer at heart. She started writing on a dare and dove headfirst into the world of writerly madness. In her ever-dwindling spare time, she enjoys getting her hands dirty in her vegetable garden, baking anything with copious amounts of chocolate, and watching lightning storms from her front porch.


Her new book Shifting is released for nook and kindle, and available in print September 27th.

 I just have to inform you all that Bethany’s book is getting RAVE reviews on Goodreads (which I linked to if you click on the book cover).  She’s at a 4.44 rating and readers are loving the character development and voice of her leading lady, Maggie Mae.  Here’s why:

After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she’s eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she’s determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O’Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it’s not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.

See what I mean?  You’ve simply got to know more!  I can’t wait to pick up Bethany’s book!  While I’m waiting for my print copy (I know, I know, why haven’t I gotten an e-reader already?), Bethany let me shoot some questions her way for my readers to get to know her more. 

What made you want to be a writer?  

 I did not aspire to be a writer as a kid, or go to college to become a writer. I didn’t even finish college. But when I started writing on a bet/dare from my sister to just do it, and discovered how much I loved creating my own stories, I decided–just shy of age 30–what I wanted to be when I grew up . . . a writer.

What were you doing before you were a writer?  What was the tipping point for a change?

Before I started writing, I was a stay-at-home mom who did mom stuff ( play group, house cleaning) during the day and watched television at night. I’m still a mom, doing mom stuff during the day, but I write at night–no TV for me! So, when I decided to actually pursue writing, there wasn’t that much of a change or tipping point. It was just one more thing I was able to squeeze into my day.

Where or what is your most productive work space?

I have only one work space–my computer desk situated in my upstairs family room, a room which connects to my children’s bedrooms so I am always close to them when I am writing (since they’re asleep). That little family room, filled with inspiring music, is my creative space.

Your website gives your new book Shifting a playlist?  How does the playlist help you write?

Music is my muse. It stirs emotions in me that I can put down onto paper. If I am writing an intense, scary scene, I play something like Radiohead’s “2=2=5.” If I am working on a sad scene, I’ll listen to Damien Rice’s “Cold Water.”

What inspired you to begin a book centered around the Navajo Legend of Skinwalkers?

Real-life local stories of Skinwalkers! (My neighbors think I’m crazy–not because I believe them, but because I’ve written a book about Skinwalkers.) 

You joke your writing strategy is a no-makeup, pajamas all day, unkempt appearance strategy so you won’t be tempted to leave the house; what else helps you achieve your writing goals?

LOL, that unkempt writing appearance isn’t my typical–unless I’m working on edits with a deadline. My best strategy for writing is, get everything done during the day that I need to get done, including cleaning up the house, so that when my kids’ bedtime rolls around, I am free to do whatever writing I want.

What is your favorite genre to read?

 YOUNG ADULT! Every once in a while I will read something adult that’s pretty awesome, but I must have the attention span of a teenager because it takes a lot to entertain me.

If you could trade places with any author, dead or alive, who would you choose?

Dickens. I just finished reading Great Expectations and it was pretty amazing (even if it was a non-YA book). I would love to spend a day inside of Dickens’ head! Even an hour.

What about character?  Trade places with any literary character?

I’m not too picky–just let me switch places with someone who can do magic and I’d be good.

What are you currently reading?

The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip, a perennial favorite!

Besides writing, what recharges you?

Cardio exercise. And yoga. Also, thunderstorms, chocolate and a clean house (especially if I don’t have to do all the cleaning).

What is your next project?

My next project, being released in 2012 from Walker Books, is Stung: When the government attempts to save endangered bees by genetic modification, their sting induces deadly, flu-like symptoms in humans, and a vaccine created in response changes children into ferocious, killer beasts; the uninfected have built a wall to keep the beasts out, and a girl has awakened on the wrong side

Thank you so much for allowing me an interview Bethany!  I LOVED getting to know you and hearing about your new book.  For those of you who are CRAVING more information on Skinwalkers, have no fear, I gotcha covered.  I shot Bethany an e-mail saying tell me more; however did you learn about skinwalkers?  Here’s our follow up:

Several people around here say they have seen skinwalkers, but in human form, and they could run 50+ miles per hour and chased cars (two separate people told me similar stories). I live by the Ute Indian Tribe and they are the Navajo people’s enemies, they fear skinwalkers. The Navajo won’t talk about them.

She also sent me two helpful sites where you can dig into more fascinating history on the Navajo legend.  There are many interpretations as to why skinwalkers became evil, ranging from social class war necessities to vengeful lovers.  However it began, the Navajo are very protective of the legend and also of their ceremonial clothing.  It is most common that the native tribe would wear deerskin and save pelts of coyote, wolves, and bears for ceremony only, as these are the most common form of a skinwalker.  Signs you are in the prescense of one include glowing animal eyes in a human, and human eyes in an animal.  Even creepier, should you lock eyes with a shapeshifter, it is believed they can absorb you and take over your body.

This site recounts several eye witness experiences from Navajo tribes and the more rare non-native attacks.  It also consults professors of Native American history.  It is believed that all Skinwalkers are witches, but not all witches are Skinwalkers.  And for a witch to become a Skinwalker they have to kill a member of their family.  They are pure evil.  Attracted to power, they attack anything whose talents they desire.  The Navajo are skeptic to discuss the legend with outsiders as they fear talking about it encourages those they fear to enter.  The first story related is about a lawyer who dealt in native law and took a medicine man to court over a witch ceremony wherein he tried to curse the lawyer and his defendant.  You’ll want to check this out!

Your turn!  What questions do you have for Bethany?  What do you think of the legend of Skinwalkers?  Have you reserved your copy of Shifting?   

28 responses

  1. Interesting post! I’d never heard of Skinwalkers and would love to see her book made into a movie. Thanks for the explanation of this Navajo legend – intriguing!

    1. I imagine Bethany would love to see this as a film too; let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  2. Great interview, Jess! Interesting legend, Bethany. I have nightmares about supernatural stuff, but I’ll pass this along to some of my kids who love it!

    1. I know, it’s totally creepy especially since it’s that fear of the unknown, the legend is so hush-hush. *shudders*

  3. This is a great post. Yet another book to add to my long, long, very long list of books I need to read.

  4. If you are interested in another good book series, then read the Vampire Academy series. It is so good.

    1. I’ve heard of this series and I hear ya on the long list of books to get to. I may need to finally take a week reading retreat somewhere next summer.

  5. This book looks cool! I’ve actually done a good deal of research on Skinwalkers. I was developing a story and ended up dumping it when the Jane Yellowrock books came out and were so so similar to what I was planning.

    Thanks, Bethany, for doing the interview. I’m going to check out your book on Amazon. 😀

    1. If anyone would already know about skinwalkers, it would be you. Although, I heard one of the tell-tale signs someone is a skinwalker is if they’re asking about skinwalkers…Catie, do you have something you want to tell us? 😉

      1. Actually….wanna see something really scary?

        1. Ummmm, ooooook???

          1. Durn. I was trying to do a take on that scene in The Twilight Zone (the 1983 movie). This one:

            The implication, of course, was that I would turn into some creepy creature right before your eyes because you caught me…I am a skinwalker. Kidding on all this, of course. Just my lame attempt to be funny.

            1. Double durn. The link didn’t post. See if this works:

            2. LOL. That was hilarious! I’m so happy you showed me this. You are awesome!

    1. Thank you Bethany for sharing this awesome paranormal info with my readers and congrats on the book! Can’t wait to read it!

  6. Sounds great- and such an amazing cover! Congratulations!

    1. Isn’t it cool?! I like it too.

  7. The book looks SO good! I love the cover. Thanks for the rad interview, too! =)

    1. I knew you’d love this, Ellie Ann because you wrote about another form of skinwalker-the weretiger. I came across that one in one of the links about various cultural legends and popular animal forms for the skinwalker. Fascinating! I’d love to hear what you think of the medicine man in the second link’s story. Reminds me of your shaman turned tiger.

  8. – A great interview Jess! I am definitely adding Bethany to my reading list. I actually love the idea of a “no makeup, pajama day” to keep me in the house and my butt planted in my writer’s chair – will have to try that over the fall and winter! As an admitted True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse books addict, I am very interested in reading a different take on the shifter life.

    1. Yah, Sam Merlotte was my only idea of a shapeshifter too until Bethany clued me in. LOL

  9. I’m surprised Stephen King hasn’t written a novel about skinwalkers! Sounds right up his alley. Thanks for sharing…I’d never heard of them, either!

    1. It does sound like a legend King would love.

      P.S. Mark, Did you know I’m your number one fan. Muahahaha

  10. Fabulous interview, Jess. Now, I can come to your site for some writerly interviews…fun! I’d never heard of Skinwalkers, but my interest is aroused…where’s my Kindle…

    1. Hey Mindi! You know I love your author interview pages! This was such a fun chance to do one too. Thanks for coming over and I hope you do check out Bethany’s book!

  11. […] more about Bethany and her book in my author interview with her!  Or check out her blog at Shooting […]

  12. […] of you may remember I interviewed Bethany back in September right before her book was released.  I’ve recently finished reading it and […]

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