Meet Katherine McIntyre.
Strong women. Strong words.
Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. Easily distracted by cats and sugar.
The Guest Post.
A Howling Good Time
One of the best parts in writing shifter stories and characters is getting to choose their animal counterparts. Out of all of the predatory animals and even prey to choose from, the most common is the wolf. And why not? Werewolves have so much lore behind them, and the mythical creatures have been told a retold a thousand times over in different shades and variations.
When I sat down to work on my shifter series, while I included other animal shifters in the mix, the predominant pack I focused on was a wolf one. The best part of being able to research wolves for me is that there’s a wolf sanctuary under an hour from where I live. What better excuse to observe their behavior?
The Wolf Sanctuary of PA does full moon tours once a month at night, which I love to go to as they’re a great source of information, and it’s so much fun to see the wolves. One of the first things I was initially surprised by was the size of wolves—I always imagined them as far larger, but their deadliness comes more from their hunting abilities and the force of their bite rather than sheer size. While there were varying sizes, a lot of them ended up being more lean than bulky.
The other fascinating aspect of wolves is the fact that they don’t actually howl at the moon, which is a common myth that’s been extended into werewolf territory. The nights of the full moon are when there’s the most light visible to hunt, so they howl because they’re calling to each other to signal a kill. The benefit of going to the tour isn’t just the information though. The experience of actually hearing a wolf howl is beautiful, especially when they start calling back to one another.
After watching the wolves interact, it’s easy to appropriate an almost human element to their affections and attachments to one another, which is probably why wolves work so well for shifter stories. You have these hunters who live in communities like humans do, all while being some of the most ferocious predators in the woods.
Yet, the biggest challenge when approaching something that’s been done frequently—werewolves, wolf shifters, etc, is adding a unique spin. That’s where some in-depth worldbuilding comes in. When I was originally planning out the series, I had the garden variety shifters where they can transform from human to beast at will. However, I needed something more to really establish what the main conflict would be beyond simple pack infighting.
In came the shamans. By integrating a different, magical element into the universe, I was able to really expand what the wolves could do and where the shifters first came into being. On top of that, it allowed for Tribe members, the shifter governing force, who were imbued with the Great Spirits of the original shifters created by the shamans. From these basic building blocks erupted an entire series worth of conflict, and the ability to really set these wolf shifters apart.
So when you’re sitting down to work on a shifter story or gearing up to read a new one, pay close attention to the animal choices, because oftentimes, they add an entire other layer to the book.
Sierra and Dax’s alliance is already rocky. He’s a cocky wiseass, and she doesn’t put up with bullshit. So, when a mating bond appears between them, it threatens to send them both running.
Sierra Kanoska fought hard for her position as wolf alpha of the Red Rock pack, and intruders in her territory receive the full brunt of what her claws, fangs and smarts can accomplish. So, when Dax Williams, de facto alpha of the Silver Springs pack, pays an unwelcome visit, Sierra’s ready to toss him out. However, the pack elders sabotaged Dax’s fight for alpha against his brother, driving him from his lands. Sierra hates underhanded crap like that, so she agrees on an alliance.
As they work together, she witnesses an alpha who wants to do right by his pack, not just a cocky wiseass. Their growing attraction blazes hot, but the moment she and Dax lock lips, a mating bond emerges. Sierra sure as hell isn’t ready to share that intimate connection with a stranger and the thought of forever sends Dax running.
Before they can talk, the Tribe commanding the East Coast shifters arrives to settle the dispute. Dax and his brother’s punishment for their pack’s civil war is a free-for-all on their lands. Not only does he have to defeat his brother, but any challenger in the region. Despite Dax and Sierra’s initial resistance, his wily charm relaxes her control-freak tendencies while her steadfast support bolsters his strength. Yet every new opponent places their newfound relationship under siege—one misstep, one wrong blow in the ring, and Dax could leave in a bodybag.