As happens to many authors, I enjoy challenging myself by writing something new.
I was thrilled to be bought by Harlequin Intrigue in the first year of publication. My initial Intrigues were romantic mysteries, then suspense-thrillers. Eventually, I tried my hand at paranormal romantic suspense (my first stab at crossover fiction) and found that I loved being able to add that extra element to my stories.
Since I teach Writing Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing in the Fiction Department of Columbia College Chicago, I had to expand my own reading to include new authors and genres. I began reading what was known then as Dark Fantasy, but which has morphed into what we now call Urban Fantasy. I found I loved the new genre. Or should I say two distinct subgenres. The stories that are primarily romances set in an urban fantasy world are found in the romance section of bookstores, while the stories that are stronger in fantasy and usually have a romantic subplot are found in the fantasy section.
I love writing both.
WOLF MOON, winner of the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers Choice Awards for Best Intrigue of 2007, is a werewolf story. I’ve always loved the idea of werewolves. Not the old 1940s movie “man in a wolf costume” werewolf, but the BLOOD and CHOCOLATE werewolf in which people actually turn into sleek, beautiful wolves. I know a lot about wolves and am fascinated by them as I am by most animals. I’ve written a couple other novels with wolves at the center. My research included taking a weekend wolf ecology workshop in Stevens Point, Wisconsin some years ago.
When I decided I wanted to write a werewolf story, I of course wanted it to be a little different. Every author should have her own version of a popular legend, complete with rules that remain unbreakable. My biggest change in the legend is that, in addition to a werewolf villain, I created a werehuman hero. Rhys started life as a wolf. He was attacked, his family killed, by a werewolf. Jens Lindgren brought him home to take care of him, only to see the wolf turn into a teenage boy. So now, when the “wolf” killings start, Rhys worries that he might be responsible. The story is very romantic, one of destined love. As a wolf, he saved Aileen McKenna’s life when she was eleven, only to be attacked by the werewolf and almost die. Now Aileen will have to save his life in return.
I also love writing Urban Fantasy with a romance subplot.
When my writing partner Marc Paoletti first asked me if I would like to write a book together (a big action-thriller), I said no. But much later, I thought about something I would like to try that I hadn’t done–a story in which each of us would be responsible for writing different characters. I would write the scenes from the points of view of the heroine and villainess and he would write the hero and villain. Since Marc wrote horror and I wrote paranormal romantic suspense, we agreed to write a thriller with a strong romance set in a dark fantasy world. The result was The Last Vampire, coming June 24 from Del Rey, and The Dark Agent, a sequel, coming in January.
I always love to hear what readers like in their stories. What kind of shapeshifter intrigues you? Are there any “rules” an author follows that you find particularly fun? Are you someone who sticks to shapeshifters or do you like all types of paranormal elements?
Whatever you like…good reading.