Shape-shifters: What draws us to them?
Julie, thank you very much for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog. Dreamspinner Press published my new release, Secret Energy, on August 29th. Secret Energy is a shape-shifter story, and the sequel to Secret Chemistry (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3520).
Secret Energy is my 12th book (plus one short story in an anthology), and it's my fourth shape-shifter story. In most of my stories, animals play an important role, or the book is set in a fantasy / paranormal world.
Shape-shifting is the ability to physically transform from one form into another. Often it's a human being who can shift into some kind of animal. The shift is usually achieved through the application of magic, divine intervention, or because the human is a mythological creature that inherits the ability to transform.
Some shape-shifter forms are more used than others—for example wolves and dragons—while others don't receive a lot of attention. I like to write unusual shifters, like I did in The Wolf and His Diva, where one of the guys can shift into a red squirrel. :)
In Secret Energy, the characters are wolf-shifters and / or hybrids between wolves and other animals. Now why do these stories attract me so much?
ñ The idea of experiencing the world through the eyes of an animal appeals to me. The sights and smells must be overwhelming.
ñ Wolves are attractive because they have a strict hierarchy. Everyone knows their place—which doesn't mean there are no fights—and everyone is responsible for the well-being of the whole pack.
ñ The idea of a person that might be disabled or sees himself as weak, changes form and become a dangerous predator, sounds great to me. It allows that person to explore a whole different side of their personality.
ñ How about the possibility of a gender switch? A woman could turn into a male wolf or a man could turn into a female fox. Wouldn't that make for some awesome moments in the book?
ñ Maybe the shape-shifters have other magical abilities, to which they only have access while in their animal form.
As you can see, there are no limitations for your imagination, and that's what really draws me to this genre. How about you? What appeals to you? What are your criteria to pick up a shape-shifter story?
When wolf shifter Robin agreed to cover for his older brother Tim and Tim’s lover Jay, he never imagined feeling so stifled. Tim's overprotective attitude suffocates him. Pressure from within—the urge to find his own mate—mounts daily. With a little help from Jay, Robin finally convinces Tim to let him go for a run alone, but he has no inkling that his life will change forever as a result.
Unexpectedly, he finds his mate Peter Brannigan, an old and special soul, and the one shifter who can bring balance to Robin’s life. The new couple spend days together, developing their bond as mates. Yet even as they explore and cement their relationship, crisis looms just ahead when an old enemy of the pack shows up and kills someone Robin loves.
The scent called to Robin, setting something free within him—something unfamiliar and primal in nature. Robin’s mood alternated between exhilarated and scared, the combination and sheer intensity of both feelings troubling him.
Robin stopped near a small creek and carefully stepped inside the stream, the cool water soothing his paws and ankles. He took a few swallows of the clear water while his heartbeat slowed down.
The scent was strong around the creek, but Robin was unable to pinpoint it. After raising his snout high in the air, he inhaled the smell deeply, hoping it would infuse his lungs and from there spread to every part of his body, because whatever it was, it had a highly arousing but also calming effect on him. A long, high-pitched yowl broke free from his throat, announcing his longing.
Robin waited before he swept his gaze around. High pines surrounded the small creek, casting shadows on the water’s surface. The creek flowed slowly and smoothly, only occasionally hindered by rocks strewn in its bed. The water swirled around them, creating small vortices that gurgled.
Would anyone answer his plea? What would he do if someone did? Why was he even expecting someone to answer? It couldn’t be his mate—it just couldn’t—although everything would make sense, then.
No one answered Robin. In fact, he couldn’t even hear the usual cacophony of animal noises, just the water lapping at his feet. Robin pricked his ears, concentrating hard on what he could hear—the purling of the creek, the wind whipping through the treetops, and sometimes branches creaking. His breathing sounded harsh, closer to panting. Something wasn’t right, not at all.
Robin walked over to the other side of the stream, the earlier exhilaration dwindling. He shifted from foot to foot, darting his gaze around. An uncomfortable sense of isolation nestled into his insides. Maybe he should have listened to Tim after all?
Shivering, he stood there, not sure whether he wanted to go on with his search or go back to Tim, Jay, and Walter. Going back meant safety, whereas going after his potential mate—or whatever it was he was following—could mean anything.
Robin tucked his tail between his hind legs. He had never heard of a wolf being afraid of his mate. Wouldn’t that mean the scent didn’t belong to his mate? Or maybe his mate was nuts and he somehow recognized it? Whatever the scent was—or to whomever it belonged—it didn’t smell like a wolf.
What if his mate was female? How would that work? He had never been into girls. He liked them as friends, but any kind of advances had him running for the hills. Robin was gay, period. No, the scent had to belong to a male wolf.
No, wait. He’d already ruled out another wolf.
The darkness settling around him didn’t help the queasy feeling in his stomach. Whichever direction he turned his head, something moved in the shadows, leaving him vulnerable and scared. The moon remained partially hidden behind the clouds, but even if the sky had been clear, the moonlight wouldn’t have been able to illuminate the forest ground properly. Or at least not in a way Robin wanted.
Suddenly he started. The moon? Oh hell! Shouldn’t he have been back hours ago? Surely Tim was already looking for him. Why hadn’t he realized hours had passed? Had his wolf taken over without him noticing? His father obviously had a point with not wanting Robin to go anywhere alone in his wolf form.
Robin threw his head back and closed his eyes before he howled at the moon, the sound of his voice echoing through the forest, silencing every other animal in his vicinity. This time someone answered him. Robin jumped at the sound of a roar at the other side of the creek.
The roar didn’t sound like a wolf; it was too guttural for that. After his initial jump, Robin stood frozen, shock waves rolling through his entire body.
Chris T. Kat
Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there's any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.
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