I was asked recently why I decided to write about shifters. I have to admit it was probably because I think humans got a raw deal. We are supposed to on the top of the food chain, but animal senses are far superior to ours. Which means they are masters of their world, able to see, hear, and sense their surroundings in a way we cannot. Instead, our puny senses confine us to daylight hours and civilization, at least for the most part. Seems rather unfair to me.
Since I feel like I got gipped, it only makes sense I would combine animals and humans as characters in my writing. Though I can’t really say I ever thought about why I did until someone asked, “Why weretigers?” Given my love for cats of all shapes and size, it’s not surprising I’d make them the predominate species in my fantasy world. If you think about it, who wouldn’t love to be a cat? You could take sixty-four naps a day—on the clean laundry—leap from place to place as gracefully as a ballet dancer, and would always land on your feet.
Then there’s the attitude cats have. They know, without a single doubt, felines are the master race. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, they KNOW! They don’t discuss it, at least mine haven’t mentioned it to me, but you can tell just by looking at them. Take my cat Boo, whom I cast as a secondary character in my novella Love Potion No. 2-14, which was released by eTreasures in February 2011. Boo never questions whether he’s good enough. He knows he is. He is totally convinced he’s the center of the universe. All things revolve around him—and anything that doesn’t, should. Yet, I have never met a more loving and loyal cat. If I am depressed or feeling discouraged, he always seems to know. Then he plops his behemoth butt on my lap—he’s twenty-five pounds of muscle, pure black, and has evil-looking yellow eyes—leans against my chest, and purrs. That’s his way of saying as long as he loves me, all’s right with the world. Most of the time, he’s right.
When I began writing the novel, Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, released by Black Opal Books in April 2011, I was having a love affair with a tiger I met in a zoo in third-world country I promised not to name. This was an Amur tiger. I’m not exactly sure what differentiates them from other tigers, but this guy was just magnificent. I went to see him every chance I got. He was huge, just a little scruffy, and was perfectly content being what he was. I got quite attached to him in the few months I worked in the area. To get my weretiger character, I combined the Amur tiger with a man on my research team, a hunk, whose name I also promised not to reveal. I wouldn’t have minded having a real love affair with him, given half a chance…sigh…but that’s another story. Anyway, with the combination of the man and the tiger, I created one of my favorite characters: alpha male, weretiger-pride leader, Drake Gatos. Drake is cool—a fierce, hard man with a soft center. He’s a secondary character in Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, but he’s starring in the second book in the series, Blood Fest: Cursing Fate, due to be released by Black Opal Books in late October, early November 2011.
As I take most of my characters from real life, I always try to give my friends a heads up if I use them in a book. So when I told the hunk I was using him as a secondary character in the first book, his only comment was, “Great, but when do I get my own book?” Like the tiger I paired him with, there didn’t seem to be a doubt in his mind that he deserved to have his own book. And maybe he does—for pure moxy if nothing else. You gotta love a hunk who knows he is one and thinks it’s only right. Still, I’d rather be a cat. They’ve got it all. Just ask Boo.
Thanks so much for explaining for shifter appreciation. I could definitely go for a research trip that included staring at beautiful animals and men.
Award-winning author, Pepper O’Neal is a researcher, a writer, and an adrenalin junkie. She has a doctorate in education and spent several years in Mexico and the Caribbean working as researcher for an educational resource firm based out of Mexico City. During that time, she met and befriended many adventurers like herself, including former CIA officers and members of organized crime. Her fiction is heavily influenced by the stories they shared with her, as well her own experiences abroad.
O’Neal attributes both her love of adventure and her compulsion to write fiction to her Irish and Cherokee ancestors. When she’s not at her computer, she spends her time taking long walks in the forests near her home or playing with her three cats. And of course, planning the next adventure.
Want to win a copy of the book?
I have two ebook copies (PDF/Nook/Kindle) to giveaway to lucky readers. Entry is easy. Just leave a comment answering the following question:
What type of animal would make a bad shifter character?
Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win. The giveaway is open worldwide until midnight Aug 14, 2011 (EST). The winners will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted by email. They will have 48 hours to respond, or a new winner will be chosen.