Wolf Tales fans, get ready for more delicious Chanku shifters! Author Kate Douglas is beginning a new series set in her familiar Chanku world, starting with Dark Wolf, which releases this April. Although the author's new Spirit Wild series will be set in the same universe and feature some familiar faces, there will be a whole new batch of shifters readers will get to know. Today get a special sneak peek at Dark Wolf as the author answers some of our burning questions about her new series.
In your upcoming Spirit Wild series, you will be returning to the Chanku world. These shapeshifters have a special place in many readers' hearts because of the characters difficult journeys into modern society. What makes the Chanku so special to you?
I’ve always tried to write from a deep point of view, essentially seeing the scene through my characters’ eyes. For whatever reason, I was able to do that better in my Chanku world than any other I’d ever written. When I wrote the Alpha leader Anton Cheval’s scenes, I became Anton. I was no longer Kate Douglas, author — I was a middle aged man with an overdeveloped ego, a fear of making mistakes, and an overwhelming love for a woman I thought much too good for me. I was still learning what it meant to be a shapeshifter ruled by my libido. When Anton shifted and ran through the woods as a wolf, I actually smelled the pine forest as I typed, felt the thick humus beneath my feet and heard the tiny sounds of mice and voles, the slither of snakes through the leaves. I think that visceral connection — not only with Anton but with each of the characters — made them so real for me that they took up a place in my world as much as their own.
When I wrote Wolf Tales 12, knowing it was the final book in the series, I went into a horrible depression. It took a while before I realized I was mourning the pack as if I’d lost real friends. Of course, that’s what immediately convinced me that I had to write more stories about characters who were much too real to me to go quietly. I knew I had a problem when I realized I could remember the birthdates of most of my Chanku and had to look up my grandkids’!
Will we be revisiting some fan favorite characters from your Wolf Tales in the Spirit Wild series, or will there be all new people to meet?
I wasn’t really certain when I started writing — for one thing, I don’t really plot my stories. I begin with a character and let them lead me. Their actions determine the course of the story. I knew that I wanted to start with Lily Cheval, the first child born to the modern Chanku, so in that respect, we’re revisiting Lily, who was a child in the final Wolf Tales. Now she’s an adult, dealing with her father, a man she loves without reservation, but one who can be a real pain in the ass. Anton likes being in control, but he’s had to accept he will never control his daughter, and in this first book, he has to accept that there might be another man in Lily’s life — one who is as powerful a wizard as Anton.
In Dark Wolf the main players are Lily Cheval, Alex Aragat (son of Stefan Aragat and his mate Xandi) Annie McClintock, daughter of Lisa and Tinker McClintock, and a new character, Sebastian Xenakis. Many of the original pack members will make cameo appearances, but this series is essentially about the children from the Wolf Tales series as adults, living in a world that knows Chanku shapeshifters live among them.
The shifters in previous Chanku books have been extremely sexual, oftentimes engaging in intimacy with multiple partners. Does this new series have as much explicit sex or are you more focused on the paranormal aspects of the world?
The first two books have very strong, suspenseful plots, but there is still a high level of explicit sex and multiple partner relationships. I don’t think of it so much as a book with “hot sex” as I do a story with really involved relationships that tend to be more graphic than a more traditional romance. They are definitely paranormal and the spirit world is important to the stories. I didn’t realize it would be until I started writing and the first story had one surprise after another, but Chanku are still sensual creatures, and the libido is often in control.
Dark Wolf features Sebastian Xenakis a wizard who can shift into wolf form using elemental powers. When writing him, did you consider him equal parts human, wizard and wolf or did one take precedence?
I thought of Sebastian mostly as a very powerful and yet confused young man. He’s searching for love from a father he’s only just gotten to know, and yet he is appalled by the man’s use of dark magic. He envies his father’s magical abilities at the same time that he fears what those powers could do to him. Sebastian’s use of magic, his shape-shifting and the mystery behind his origins unfolded for me as I wrote his story. I didn’t know exactly who or what he was until I’d written almost half the book and discovered things about him I hadn’t realized at first. He is, most of all, a man who is faced with some tough choices and a chance at love, well aware that if he chooses wrongly, he will lose everything that is important to him.
Sebastian is afraid that while in wolf form, he might have committed some heinous crimes. Does he shoulder this knowledge alone, as a lone wolf, or does he have anyone to confide in?
He tries to handle it on his own until he realizes the importance of his growing relationship with Lily. I don’t want to give too much away, but the scenes between Anton and Sebastian are some of the most powerful, I believe, because that’s where Sebastian realizes where his choices might lead him, and how terrible it will be if he chooses the wrong path. There’s also a scene with Alex Aragat that had me practically in tears writing it — by then, I had a really strong investment in both young men and I wanted them to get it right.
Sebastian is convinced that Lily Cheval, the uncrowned princess of the Chanku people is his mate. How sure is Lily that Sebastian is the one for her?
Lily’s fascinated by Sebastian, but she doesn’t really trust him. She’s used to men falling all over themselves, trying to get her attention, but she’s a very strong woman and doesn’t have the time to waste with a man who’s not her equal. Sebastian’s different. He’s everything she’s always wanted in a mate — he’s smart, he seems like a truly good man, he’s good-looking, and his magic is even stronger than hers. Plus, he can shift and run as a wolf. However, while she feels a strong connection to him, she’s made a promise never to take a mate who wasn’t Chanku, and she knows that Sebastian shifts by magical means, not because of his genetics. Plus, so many clues lead to his guilt in a series of rapes and murders, that she’s afraid there’s no future for them, but she’s not willing to give up on him, and she will do anything to prove his innocence.
Sebastian has a large personality and would probably overshadow most heroines. What it is about Lily that allows her to stand up to Sebastian?
Lily’s got a lot of her father in her. She’s been treated like a princess her entire life, for good reason. She’s every bit as powerful, in her own way, as Sebastian Xenakis. And where Sebastian is totally on his own, Lily is made stronger because she knows she has the power of the pack behind her. She’s never been alone in her life, never without support and love, and that connection to so many who love her has made her a powerful figure. Lily rarely has any self-doubt. Sebastian is sometimes consumed by his.
Dark Wolf, book one in the Spirit Wild series, releases on April 30th. When can we expect book 2 and is there anything you can tell us about the couple we will be meeting in the series second?
Dark Moon, the second in the series, is finished and with my editor. I don’t have a release date for it, but Kensington generally releases my novels every six months, so I’m guessing it will be out in the fall of 2013. This story was full of surprises. For fans of Wolf Tales, Igmutaka is a familiar figure — he’s the immortal spirit guide who came to the pack via his connection to Mik Fuentes. Mik, AJ and Tala make up a three-way bond, and Mik and Tala had a daughter in Wolf Tales 11 named Mikaela Star. Igmutaka was there at her birth and he was the one who caught the baby as Tala pushed her out. He knew, at that moment, that this tiny girl was to be his. But while she was growing from child to adult, he was her spirit guide, charged with keeping her safe and watching over her.
You can only imagine how a headstrong young woman takes a full-time babysitter, one who only appears to her as spirit or as a big cougar, and yet one she has seen in his human form and knows is absolutely gorgeous. Needless to say, Star doesn’t take it well, and Ig, knowing he’s going to fall in love with her when she’s old enough, isn’t too cool about turning her loose with a bunch of sexually active Chanku male teens. The story opens with Star in Connecticut where she’s a permanent student at Yale, and Ig with his longtime lover, Sunny Daye, in Montana. Ig decides it’s time to confront Mikaela Star about the same time Star realizes she’s been hiding out from the man she truly loves — her irritating spirit guide — and it’s time to face him or forget him. Before Ig leaves Montana to put his plan to corral Star into action, he tells Sunny that he senses her mate is drawing near. Sunny’s been hoping to find a mate for years, but this man isn’t quite what he seems. The tale of these four strong-willed, star-crossed lovers takes one amazing twist after another. And yes, I had WAY too much fun writing this one, but it opened up so many new ideas for me I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.
One thing I do want to assure readers is that they don’t have to have ever read a single Wolf Tales to get into this series. I had a number of first time beta readers who were unfamiliar with the earlier series, and none of them felt they’d missed anything, so I feel comfortable in recommending the stories to readers totally unfamiliar with my work or the prior series. I do recommend, these, though. It’s rare when a writer finishes a book and senses that it works on all the levels it’s supposed to, but I really felt that with Dark Wolf, and again with Dark Moon. Whether it’s my familiarity with the Chanku world or merely the fact that I love these characters so much, but I am absolutely thrilled with the way the first two books have turned out. I really hope my readers will love these characters as much as I do.
You can pick up a copy of Dark Wolf when it hits shelves April 30th. In the meantime, visit our Everything Erotica Page for more steamy stories.