Saturday, November 24, 2012

Guest Post with Author Shelly Holt

Today I would like to welcome to the blog, author Shelly Holt. Shelly is here to chat about her book Tasting Fire. Please give Shelly a warm welcome.

My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on.

Places to find Shelly:

When I sat down in March of this year and decided to write a paranormal romance, I knew I would be competing against hundreds of other books. I made an executive decision that to succeed, I would have to stand out. I knew I wanted to write the shape-shifting romance that I had always wanted to read, yet alluded me. I was reading a lot of stories about very sexy werewolves, but to my frustration as a reader, not a lot of thought was being put into how they came to be. I am the kind of person that needs to know why there are werewolves running around the woods. It's not enough for me that they're totally hot and having alpha male sex at the drop of a hat. I need to know how they came to be, and what are the rules that govern them.

A little background on me will help you understand why I was becoming so frustrated as a reader. Of late, I personally am having a hard time with my suspension of disbelief. I decided to test myself a year or two ago and rented the one movie that scared me silly as a child, Salem's Lot. As I watched the scene again where the little boy vampire was floating outside in the air, I was more than a little dismayed to find out it didn't scare me at all anymore. After my little experiment with vintage Stephen King, I realized that it has only gotten worse as I have gotten older.

I thought back to my absolute favorite series by Sharon Shinn and picked apart what I loved about it. I decided that her Samaria series had captured and held my attention, due to her highly intelligent premise and world building skills. She created a universe where her angels were not divine, but engineered in a lab by human colonists thousands of years in the future. It allowed me to suspend my disbelief and fully enjoy her work.

I decided that would be how I approached my own book as well. I created a premise where shape-shifters evolved not by magic, but over thousands of years by means of a bacterial infection that combined the DNA of the human victims with that of animals. I knew that if this infection was too easy to catch, everybody and their grandmother by the 21st century would be a shape-shifter. In the plot I decided to make it fairly hard, but not impossible to become infected. If you take a swim in the healing waters of a hot spring that does contain the thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria and then come into contact with a secondary DNA code while the bacteria is still in your system, your descendants could very well be shape-shifters.

After I had created the method, I had to chose my shape-shifter to focus the plot on. I sat down on the floor, and went though my bookshelf full of library discards. I came across a charming little children's book about snow leopards and their babies. I fell in love with the little cubs in the book, and I knew I had found my shape-shifter.

Tasting Fire has strong spiritual overtones and extraordinarily well developed secondary plots that involve personal growth and fully defined characters. All of these well designed aspects make for a truly unique paranormal romance. I will warn readers at this point, if you want a book where the hero and heroine fall into bed within the first two minutes of meeting and have mindless sex, this is not the book for you! If you are looking for a rich, textured romance, full of world building and character development, and if you want to lose yourself in an original, intelligent, romantic, SEXY, adventure, this is your book!

Thanks for having me on Ramblings From This Chick to share my experiences writing Tasting Fire with your readers today.

Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. As a young man, Kai left his small village where the mountain touches the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.

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Rae took an admiring look at the vista below as she dropped her heavy pack on the ground. The mountains in the distance looked purple and the desert brush spread out below them like a master oil painting. It was awe inspiring to human eyes. Rae wondered what would it look like to a snow leopard. She suddenly realized many a biologist would sell their very soul for the opportunity she had at that moment. Rae turned to Kai who had been sitting on the ground with his pack and fishing around for lunch and asked him “what is it like when you're in your Shan form out in country like this?” Kai rewarded Rae with the most brilliant smile she had yet seen to grace the handsome shape-shifter's face. He seemed truly delighted to discuss the subject with her. Kai stood up to answer Rae's question. He addressed the human scientist. “It's like nothing you can imagine Rae. Every sense is in tune with the planet. See that tree over there” he pointed a few yards away at an ancient gnarled pinyon. “Yes” Rae replied. Kai walked up behind Rae and put his hands on her shoulders and directed her to look even closer at the tree. He whispered intimately in her ear as if they were in a church or another sacred space “when you look at that tree with your limited human vision, the average person can certainly appreciate its form and color. A biologist like yourself would ask what type of tree is it and how old it is. A philosopher might ask who may have sat underneath it in the past or who might sit underneath it in the future. All of you might even wonder when will it die. That's the limit of your human perception. When you're in Shan form every single leaf will bid you a glorious greeting as you walk up to the tree for the first time. Every drop of sap tells you the history of the tree's life like an intimate biography written in the utterly sensual language of scent. The tree itself will tell you if it's healthy or sick. You can smell if the water that nourishes it is bitter or sweet. If you deeply pay attention you can smell every animal that has ever been there.” Kai looked to Rae like he was experiencing a spiritual moment and Rae suddenly realized he was. The enthralled shape-shifter continued to explain to Rae the nuances of the animal world “when you are ready to move on to another place you reach up with your powerful claws and dig deep into the bark to mark the tree with your scent. It's added harmoniously to the scent of hundreds of other animals. You do this not just to mark your hunting territory, but to tell every animal after you have left this world that you lived and breathed here at one time in the great mystery that is life. That is your only immortality in the animal world. There are no monuments to mark a man's ego, or family albums for a mother to remember her children by, but neither is there hate, nor fear of the future or regret of the past. You are fully alive in each and every moment. It's a wonderfully free existence. I wish I could truly share it with you... words, words pale in comparison.” Kai looked so happy at that moment. Rae was so moved by what he had just shared with her that all she could do was reach out and touch his wrist. “Thank you!” she whispered. Kai nodded at her in acknowledgment, but he was too emotional to even speak.


  1. Thanks for inviting me on the blog today. Hope everybody survived the malls yesterday. lol

  2. Sounds like a really good book. Thanks for the excerpt