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Guest blogger: Terry Spear

12 December 2010

Birth of a werewolf series

Often I’m asked how my wolf (werewolf, that is) series began. Well, first there were children’s stories that went to a second editor even, but were too similar to something already purchased. And breaking into the children’s market is really difficult to do. I’d always loved anything historical, and wrote a western historical romance. I loved it! But my first multi-published author critiquer warned me I needed to start where the character’s life turned upside down.  And historical romances weren’t selling well, particularly westerns. So I set it aside, wrote some fantasy historical romances, sent them off to a couple of publishers, and when they were rejected, set them aside. If something gets rejected more than once, I usually set it aside and start something else, figuring that if I just hit on the right book, I’d work on a series in that genre. Which, I finally learned wasn’t working, by the way!!!

I’d always LOVED the paranormal from ghosts and psychics to the hardcore—vampires—I had seen my first Dracula in a college play, who was utterly charming and kissable and I was totally in love. He was truly to die for and I wanted him to bite ME! But I had never wrapped my mind around the notion that a vampire could be hot and a hero.

I started out with romantic suspense with a psychic. And I wrote my first shifter futuristic story—a panther sister with a dragon brother. Then I read a vampire young adult story that first piqued my interest in writing a sexy vampire adult romance. The author was a teen author, Amelia Atwater Rhodes, way, way before Twilight came on the scene. But she doesn’t have happily ever afters, and that’s what I was after.

I soon discovered that the market was saturated with adult vampire romance books written by everyone who was already an established author. So I was trying to come up with something different because everyone who had read my vampire romantic suspenses said I had found my niche with my hot vampires and I needed to still write them. But I wanted to sell!

I read a werewolf young adult romance that I fell in love with, and I wrote HEART OF THE WOLF, which had a great review in Publishers Weekly, then became PW’s Best Book of the Year, for a mass market book, only five selected for the year. And that was the beginning of the series!!! WOLF FEVER came out this month, the sixth book in the series, with my first Highland wolf book coming in June 2011, HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF, the seventh book. I’ve already written the eighth book, DREAMING OF THE WOLF, and have over half of the ninth book written—THE WOLF AND THE SEAL (as in US Navy SEAL teams). And another book contracted beyond that featuring another of the Highland wolves. The series continues, all stand alone titles, which means you don’t have to read the other stories in the series to enjoy any of the books.

Sometimes it takes a while to find a niche. But reading just one story hadn’t prepared me for writing the werewolf series. As a child, I fell in love with my first shifter story, “East of the Moon and West of the Sun,” a children’s Norwegian tale about a prince who was cursed to be a polar bear by day and human at night. I also have to say it was one of many “romantic” tales of princes and princesses and falling in love that I so enjoyed. But I also loved Jack London’s tales: “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” that portrayed wolves as needing to live just as humans did, the pack behaviours, and human interaction, too. And I recall reading how a wolf pup explored his environment while his mother was away from the den. In that instant, London showed the world from the wolf’s point of view.

I love fantasy, the paranormal, the historical, adventure, romantic suspense, mystery, and true life. My werewolf tales became all of these things. They’re contemporary, but live long lives so they still have a historical connection. I just couldn’t help myself. I love historical!

When I created my werewolves, I wanted them to be as realistic as possible—when in the form of wolves, they still have their human desires and thinking processes, yet as a wolf, the instinct for being a wolf continues to exert its power. And yet, they are werewolves, so have even another “code of ethics” as they continue to maintain their secrecy while they live among the human population. In their human form, they also exhibit their wolfishness and so it’s not like they take off their wolf coat and are perfectly human, or put on their wolf coat and are strictly wolf.  They are one with both halves, which makes them whole.

I do a lot of research into the behaviors of wolves and this last summer visited a wolf reserve in Texas. I’ll be visiting one in New Mexico and another in Minnesota if I can manage it next year. And in October, I visited seven castles in Scotland to get more of a feel for the Highland medieval stories I write and are published, but also for my Highland wolf stories.

Research is really important to me, even though my works are still fiction and fantastical, but I try to make them seem as realistic as possible.

Here are a couple of quotes from reviewers:

The vulpine couple’s chemistry crackles off the page, but the real strength of the book lies in Spear’s depiction of pack power dynamics, as well as in the details of human−wolf interaction. Her wolf world feels at once palpable and even plausible. — Publishers Weekly

“Centers on pack problems in a refreshingly straightforward way. The characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the contemporary plotline of love and life among the lupus garou seem, well, realistic.”—The Romantic Times

 But how then does the one become a series? Each are stand alone titles, mainly because I had begun writing the second book, DESTINY OF THE WOLF, without having sold the first, and thinking maybe this would be the first of the books sold, didn’t want to have where the first would have to be read first. So the world is the same, but the characters are different, at least for the first four books. Then fans began to ask to see more of the characters in earlier books and I began to write their stories. But still, I write my books as stand alone titles. And I attempt to make each of them different enough that fans don’t feel they’re reading the same story.

I wrote WOLF FEVER during the flu epidemic scare and thought, what if werewolves were exposed to biological warfare and it affected them differently than humans? But Carol is also a psychic and had a lot of personal baggage as a secondary character in DESTINY OF THE WOLF, and readers loved her and wanted to see more of her. She was also a nurse, and so it was perfect that she had a big role to play in attempting to solve the pack’s dilemma. What she doesn’t expect is for sexy Ryan McKinley, the private investigator from DESTINY OF THE WOLF to show up from a pack in another town and question her psychic abilities, when she knows his interest in her goes a whole lot deeper! Murder and mayhem, psychic predictions of doom and gloom, humour (one of my critique partners described it as: it sneaks up on you when you least expect it), and oh yes, dirty dancing … well, my editor really LOVED that scene, and there you have it! One sexy adventure full of trouble and only one way out if Carol and Ryan are ever to find happiness, and the problem of the pack is turned around before it’s too late.

If you’d like a chance of winning this book or another, I’m offering a copy of an autographed book to three lucky ARRA members! Winners’ choice. So if you’ve never ventured into the world of wolves—werewolves, that is—or are already hooked on the series, comment, and you may have a chance to win.

Winners for the giveaways have now been drawn – winners were Deb K, Lisa V and Barbara.

If you already read the stories, is there anyone you’d like to read more about in a future book?

Thanks so much to Australian Romance Readers for having me and to everyone who stopped by to chat!

Terry Spear
www.terryspear.com
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male.”
WOLF FEVER by TERRY SPEAR—IN STORES DECEMBER 2010

 

She may be his destiny, but she’s not his first choice…

Hospital nurse and newly turned red werewolf Carol Woods is being pressured by her pack leader to find a mate, but he’s the only guy in the pack who remotely attracts her… Why is he playing so hard to get?

The fate of the pack rests on his shoulders…

Gray pack leader Ryan McKinley doesn’t want anything to do with Carol unless she’s willing to embrace her wolf nature—no matter how beautiful she is.

But when a virus infects the local lupus garou pack, Ryan realizes just how wrong he’s been not to seize the moment with the woman he’s come to love. And now, it may be too late…

Praise for Terry Spear’s To Tempt the Wolf:

“Ms. Spear’s has spun a web of drama that pulled me in… Get it; read it; you’ll love it!”—Romance Reader at Heart

“A paranormal romp that sizzles! Action-packed romance and suspense-filled plot add up to pure magic. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Terry Spear is a great addition to the paranormal genre!”—Armchair Interviews

With over 71,000 copies sold, Terry Spear is a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserves. She received her MBA from Monmouth University. An eclectic writer, she dabbles in the paranormal as well as writing historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas. For more information, please visit http://www.terryspear.com/

9 Comments
  1. 12 December 2010 9:43 am

    Wow Terry,
    I am a fellow TWRP author. Your series sounds so interesting. Were wolves I must confess are something I have never really thought about before, but you have certainly caught my interest.

    Regards

    Margaret

  2. Deb Klanfar permalink
    12 December 2010 10:47 am

    Hi Terry

    Wow – Wolf reserves and Scottish castles! Your research sounds fascinating. You’ve got me hooked with just this blogpost.

    I’ll be reading you .

    Cheers

    Deb

  3. 12 December 2010 1:13 pm

    Thanks, Margaret, and fellow TWRP author! Wolves and werewolves have been ridiculed in literature for too long. I wanted to stand up for the underdog (although wolves would never want to be considered a dog in any sense of the word or in any form), but they deserved some good publicity for a change.

    I was just reading how wolves were saving Aspen forests in Colorado. Who would ever have thought? And if wolves are good for some aspects of the ecology, so are werewolves.

    Thanks so much, Deb! Yeah, I LOVED visiting the castles in Scotland and with all my Scottish roots, I’m ready to buy a castle and move into one. :) Although the heating bill and repair costs would be quite high. So I’ll just have to dream of living in a castle and write about them! As to the wolf reserves, the one in Minnesota actually has programs where visitors can learn to howl to gather the pack. I talked about it in Seduced by the Wolf and hope to visit there someday! I mentioned an Arctic wolf reserve in Oregon, but alas, the owners were sick and couldn’t take care of the wolves any more. I’d hoped to visit it also. Ironically, two of the wolves who were brother and sister, were sent to the Texas reserve I visited. So they were doing fine, except a little hot compared to the cooler Oregon weather! Thanks again!

  4. Helen permalink
    12 December 2010 4:58 pm

    Terry

    All I can say is WOW I have read lots about your books and they have been on my must have list for a while now I really need to go out and get them.

    Have Fun
    Helen

  5. Lisa V permalink
    12 December 2010 6:22 pm

    Hi Terry,

    as you know I’m already a fan…I think that the continual emails with help on my thesis was a bit of a give away, lol! It’s a shame you can’t make it to our Romance Readers Convention next year…we’ll just expect you next time around! Anyway, welcome to our page here and thank you for your fantastic stories. No sooner do I get my hands on one of your new stories, I’m avidly awaiting for the next in the series. Keep ‘em coming Terry, you keep so many of us enthralled with your stories.

    Hugs,
    Lisa V

  6. 12 December 2010 10:50 pm

    Hi, Helen, thanks so much!!! I hope you enjoy them once you get hold of some!!! I’ve been asked if the series is ending soon because I’ll be working on the 10th book, but nope. As long as readers are enjoying them and my editor wants more, I’m writing them. One of the fun things for me is to write about characters fans have fallen in love with. I hadn’t intended to write Carol’s story because she’s a psychic and my editor doesn’t care for psychics. But when I had so many requests from fans to see her story, I just had to propose it. And my editor is truly the greatest. She took the proposal to the board and Wolf Fever became reality. :) And even the story I’m finishing up: The Wolf and the SEAL…Meara, Hunter’s sister from To Tempt the Wolf, ends up in her own book when I hadn’t planned on writing her story either. But fans wanted to see what kind of a mate she’d end up with, she was so cantankerous. :)

    Ah, Lisa, thanks so much! I felt so honored when you emailed me about doing your thesis. The editor for the magazine at Monmouth University, where I earned my Masters in Business Administration, contacted me about doing a special article about werewolves in literature, which is just too cool. I would love to come to Australia! Accumulating vacation time and money is the big problem.

    But if I could “find” a werewolf pack living in Australia…hmm, research in the area would have to be a priority! :) Thanks again! I’m glad I could have helped with your thesis!!! It’s great, by the way! I’ve been so swamped with everything, I didn’t have a chance to get back with you on it!

  7. Chelsea B. permalink
    13 December 2010 3:42 pm

    This series sounds great! I’m always open to new werewolf stories ;-)

  8. Barbara permalink
    13 December 2010 9:45 pm

    Hi Terry
    You must be very patient to write those books and then put them to one side to start again… your books sound so good and I love books set in the Scottish Highlands, especially medieval ones … I think the cover looks good too… will have to look out for it.
    Barbara

  9. 14 December 2010 12:00 am

    Thanks, Chelsea, hope you try them out and enjoy them!

    Barbara–I love writing medieval Highland tales. There’s something about men and their swords that well, just feels more…manly. :) I’d still love to do a time travel to Scotland. I’ve done a couple of others, but not to that location.

    Great point about stopping a book to edit one, or to stop and write a more detailed synopsis and give the book cover details to marketing and the cover artist…when the edited book is 3 books ago, and the book that needs the cover is 2 books ago, and I’m now working on the book beyond the one that is 1 book ago. And then am on a promotional tour for a book 4 books earlier! :) Hmm, no wonder I get mixed up on names! :) But yeah, it can be difficult to get back into the current work in process when I have to stop and reread a much earlier book all over again and do some more edits. But the really fun part of doing that is I see how finished the book has become and know that given time, the one I’m working on will eventually be there too!! :)

    I’ll be doing final line edits on Heart of the Highland Wolf soon, and I just received a note from the art department that is working on Dreaming of the Wolf’s cover (one of the most fun times during publication is seeing the finished cover art!–oh, and getting a call from my editor saying she read the current mss and it’s a go!), and as soon as I put the final touches on The Wolf and the SEAL, I’ll write up a synopsis, cover art note and send it along. Then it’s off to work on The Highland Wolf in Paradise!

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