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'Bitten': Laura Vandervoort and author Kelley Armstrong on Elena and the series

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"Bitten" is joining Syfy's lineup when it premieres next week, and on Monday, Jan. 6, series star Laura Vandervoort and author Kelley Armstrong spoke to reporters about what to expect from the series, which even non-sci-fi fans should enjoy since, like Vandervoort has said, it's about the characters and their relationships.

While Kelley Armstrong is the original creator of these characters and the world of "Bitten," contrary to any reports, she hasn't written any episodes of the TV series, but it is a possibility in the future. She didn't have any influence on the TV series, something she felt was right because she didn't want the book translated directly to screen, feeling that would have been boring. One such change is the ability for the series to take a look at what's going on with the pack members when Elena's not with them since Armstrong couldn't do that in her book, which is written in the first person from Elena's point of view.

""Bitten" actually came out of an "X-Files" episode," the author shared, explaining that she was part of a writing group and decided to write her take on how she would do werewolves. "I wanted to create a character who would be a werewolf and be uncomfortable with that role but ultimately come to embrace it," she added later. "[It] was about coming to understand that what you think you should be is not always what you're meant to be."

The character of Elena brings another strong female lead to Syfy. She goes to Toronto to hide who she really is and develops this perfect image, all while pushing down the animal inside. "A lot of the skeletons in her closet are explored this season," Vandervoort revealed. "You learn a lot about her history and some of her demons come back." Elena did grow up in the foster care system without a family dynamic, and because of that, her relationship with her pack is "complicated."

"Once she's bitten into the pack, it's conflicted because she is betrayed. It wasn't by her own will, they bit her, and she had to survive it on her own, but at the same time, she finally has a family that she's always wanted and people who will look out for her, so she's torn between what she's always wanted and how she got it, and the life that she should be living in Toronto," she explained. "But eventually within the season you realize that she is very close to the pack and she is their best tracker and she does love them all equally in different ways and wants to help them and help the family." Also complicated, "difficult," "complex" and all those words? Elena's relationship with the werewolf that changed her.

But why the history of abuse for Elena? "For a character like that, you really need to pile as much as possible on them. But seriously, what it was for Elena was looking at the psychology of a character who could have a background and come to be a werewolf and embrace that. And Elena's overriding need is for family and acceptance, and that comes out of this really rotten background. If she'd had great parents and a great support system at home, she would have found that break from the pack much easier," Armstrong, who does have a psychology background, explained. "Because it has been so bad for her and she has no one, that pull for pack, you're combining both the werewolf instinct with her own desires and what she really needs to feel fulfilled. It's both a push and a pull because yes, the pack does offer family. It does not offer the type of family she has grown up expecting, which is get married, have kids, live in the suburbs somewhere."

Armstrong based the werewolf pack as much as possible on a wild wolf pack. Just because you're bitten doesn't automatically bring you in, but it does strengthen that instinct for pack, so Elena is drawn to the idea of needing to be in a close-knit group like a pack, which does lead to an internal pull to be with them when she leaves. "It is tough for her to be away from the pack," Vandervoort admitted, but she wanted to escape and get away from those who betrayed her, especially Clay. That said, the pack does need her. Not only is she the only female to survive the bite, but she's also their best tracker.

With all the werewolves already on TV, the question of how "Bitten" is different did come up, but Armstrong pointed out that she wrote the book in the late '90s, before these other shows like "Being Human" and "Teen Wolf." She built her world and werewolves from folklore and picked what made sense in context so that these werewolves would be believable as the people next door. "Our werewolves are more down-to-earth. They're life-size to any other wolf," Vandervoort said. "It's as realistic as it can be with the situation at hand. The wolf has the actor's eyes and the fur is the same coloring as the hair."

Finally, here's a tease about the finale: there's an "epic fight" coming.

"Bitten" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Syfy.

© Meredith Jacobs 2014

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