Hi everyone! Join with me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Kate Douglas ! There’s not a shifter fan out there who hasn’t heard of Kate’s groundbreaking work. Join Kate’s MySpace, and don’t forget to keep up on Wolf Tales news with her yahoo group.
So without Further Ado – Miss Kate Douglas:
I just started work on Wolf Tales VIII, which is, I think the fifteenth story in my series if you count all the novellas. After writing so many stories about the same characters, it’s easy to lose track of the overall number. J What’s surprises me, though, is how easy it’s been to come up with fresh ideas for each new story—and this is in a series where I continually recycle the same characters in book after book. What makes it work? I think it’s the world I’m writing—the world of shapeshifters.
Writing paranormal gives an author such amazing freedom. We choose to write about creatures that don’t (or do they?) really exist. That frees us to create our own rules in a world of our own design. Even when we set our paranormal characters in a contemporary and realistic setting, the rules are up to us. What makes it work, though, is sticking to rules that are believable.
Since I know my Chanku so well, I’ll use them as an example. They are based on a real species of wolf, Canis lupus laniger, that exists in areas of southern Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet and the Himalayan steppes. The local Tibetan name for the wolves is Chanku. Once I found this information in my research on wolves, I knew I had my shapeshifters. I had to give them a logical method for shifting, and a reason they might have lost that ability, so I chose the nutrients in grasses that grow only in the Himalayan area. Once the ancient Chanku moved out of the area and away from the grasses they needed, they lost the ability to shift, though not the genetics that allowed shifting to happen. Add the proper nutrients, and voila! Humans with the right DNA can suddenly become wolves.
To add to the reality of my shapeshifters, I decided that the genes for shapeshifting are a feminine trait—the woman always passes the genes on to her offspring, so that both her sons and daughters, with the right nutrients, can shift. However, only her daughter, whether or not she ever becomes a shapeshifter, can continue to pass on the genes. Since I write erotic paranormal, I added another layer of rules to my world—my Chanku are governed by a powerful libido. The need for sex is intensified after a shift, but even if they never become shapeshifters, they are still driven by a more powerful than normal sex drive. That explains why many of my women were once prostitutes (the perfect occupation!) and so many of the men—before they discover their true nature as Chanku—end up in jail or in jobs where testosterone rules.
And, since it’s my world and my rules, my Chanku are impervious to most human illnesses. They don’t get HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. The females have total control of their reproductive cycle—they choose when to release an egg for pregnancy. The downside is, once a woman becomes Chanku, she can only breed while in wolf form, and only with her bonded mate. Which takes me to bonding—during the mating bond, the mental link is so complete that the mate can literally learn things in the other’s past he might not even recall. It requires total trust and unshakable love to open yourself up to such close scrutiny, to literally have no secrets. The telepathy, or mindtalking, isn’t nearly as deep, but it does allow sexual partners to share each others feelings during sex.
And there are the little things—the fact that the nutrients cause changes before the actual shift. Changes in perception, really itchy skin as if the bones are trying to break free and there’s the fact that even the Chanku don’t know what happens when they shift. It happens so quickly they can’t film it. They don’t know their beginnings—did they evolve on that chilly steppe or were they left here by alien visitors long ago? These are the kinds of details that make a shapeshifter come to life. The consistency of the details, the fact that they can all be explained in a forthright, logical manner.
Going into this fifteenth story in the series, bringing in characters and their stories that go back to the very first book, I feel I’ve reached a point where my readers accept my Chanku for what they are—a powerful, honorable and loving group with a very special ability that is consistent within the world they inhabit. Over time they’ve become real to me—their world is one I revisit with a sense of wonder and expectation, curious about what my fantasy friends are up to next.
Or are they fantasy? Sometimes they feel so real to me, and I think my readers are beginning to believe. It might explain the letters I get, asking me how Anton’s and Stefan’s babies are doing….
Below are Kate’s Series, in order. I hope you enjoy them!
Sexy Beast—Chanku Rising
Wolf Tales II
Wild Nights—Camille’s Dawn
Wolf Tales III
Sexy Beast II—Chanku Fallen
Wolf Tales IV
Sexy Beast III—Chanku Journey
Wolf Tales V
Sexy Beast IV—Chanku Destiny
Wolf Tales VI—July 08
Sexy Beast V—Chanku Wild September 08
Kate has graciously added to give one person who replies to this post a prize! The winner will receive WolfTales V, and one Stuffed wolf! So tell us what book of Kate’s is YOUR favorite!