Guest blogger: Terry Spear
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!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male.”
WOLF FEVER by TERRY SPEAR—IN STORES DECEMBER 2010
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/