Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!
My children were strongly encouraged to read when they were young and used to make frequent visits to the library to load up on books. Somewhere in the ‘90’s they started bringing home the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate, and since the idea intrigued me, I began reading them too. An Animorph is a person who can absorb the DNA of any animal by touch, and thereby be able to morph into that animal. The early books were very imaginative and fun, and my boys and I had a great time talking about the stories.
That long-ago introduction to what is now generally called “shifters” was reawakened when I received a Kindle Fire tablet as a gift and started to search for something to read. Some of those shifter books were wonderful, while others were just plain silly or of poor quality. After I began writing, it was a foregone conclusion I would create a shifter story of my own. The first decision was what type of shifter, as there were many to choose from including wolves, bears, dragons, birds, cats, foxes, etc.
As I recall, most of the books I read were about wolves and I was annoyed by some of the ridiculous plots and nonsensical abilities given to the characters. By this time I knew I wanted to write about wolf shifters, and that it would be a gay romance, but I also wanted to correct some of the deficiencies I’d seen in so many other books. To do that, I had to establish the ground rules of what wolf shifters were, how they lived, and what unique abilities they possessed. Re-inventing the wheel wasn’t necessary, but the tires definitely needed some new tread!
As a first step, I created a list entitled “Common Traits for Wolf Shifters in Current Literature” and then noted after each one whether I wanted to keep it or change it.
Here are some examples of traits I kept:
- Enhanced senses (hearing, smell).
- Hidden from the human population.
- Physically superior (stronger, faster, healthier).
- Can control when they shift.
- Live in packs.
- Well-endowed, usually horny, love sex.
Here are some traits I decided to change:
- Born in human form/shift at puberty – can be born in either form and start shifting after being weaned.
- Fast healing – unnecessary, as a shift re-sets the original DNA, thus repairing any injury.
- Super long life span – all live about one hundred years, with one exception (see below).
- Some males can bear children – no, with one exception.
- One true fated mate – no, but Luna (the moon) matches up mates.
- “Werewolf” and silver – werewolves are Hollywood nonsense and silver has no effect.
I found most of these traits to be quite fluid, varying from author to author, so I kept the ones I liked and changed the others to form a more consistent and logical set of rules. Naturally, I added a number of new things to my shifter world, not found anywhere else.
- In addition to Alpha, Beta, and Omega, I added a new class of shifters called Delta’s. They exist to serve or guide the packs, filling roles such as doctors, historians, ambassadors, counselors, lawyers, politicians, and judges.
- One very special type of Delta is a True Elder. True Elders are longer-lived (about two hundred years) and gifted with tremendous memory and recall. These specialized historians are charged with collecting and teaching shifter history, customs, and wisdom. Only a few are born each generation.
- Luna – the mysterious moon force which guides all shifters. The moon is prominently featured in most shifter stories but other than being howled at, doesn’t seem to do much of anything. In my world, Luna has more direct influence on shifter life via True Elders, the use of dreams/visions, and the selection of mates. It is not a deity per se, but all shifters acknowledge its power and can physically feel it (especially during full moons).
- Because I wanted same sex couples to have families, I created ways for it to happen. Luna is directly involved in the conception/mating/bonding process for Change Mates, Honor Mates, and Triad Mates. (If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the books!)
A very basic premise which influenced some of the changes I made had to do with keeping shifters hidden from the human world around them. Their history, customs, and way of life, (explained in Expectant Moon), needed to fit the whole idea of a secret existence under the noses of an unsuspecting human population. You still need to stretch your imagination to make it all work, but I like to think I’ve made it much more logical and almost possible. This delicate dance is seen throughout the story line in both books, and maintains a mysterious tension, adding spice to the “what if it were real?” vibe.
Next week, I want to dive into the writing of Expectant Moon, the first book in the Gladstone Shifters series!
Current manuscript – I am agonizingly close to finishing Traitor’s Moon! I ran into another issue which needed to be fixed, hence the delay. IF, and I say again, IF life doesn’t get in the way, the book should be complete and in the hands of my initial beta readers by this weekend. Cross your fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes (and hold your breath too). I want to get this thing done!