AA Warm Welome to Michelle
Here's the blurb for Michelle's latest release: Tasting Fire
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.
From where do you get inspiration and what inspired you to write Tasting Fire?
When I decided to write a paranormal romance, I was inspired by my love of mythology. I needed after that to choose an animal to focus on as the main species in the book. I sat down on my floor and went through my rather large collection of library discards and found a book I had bought, but never read about snow leopards and their cubs. After that I was hooked and I started researching shape-shifting legends in the cultures from the habitat range of the Asian Snow Leopard. So basically Tasting Fire and the Pari exist because of a .25 cent library discard I bought in Las Vegas.
In a couple of sentences, describe the hero's character. What do you like best/least about him?
Kai Tenzin epitomizes the ancient parable, If I am only for myself, what am I? Here is a man who could easily live off his father's wealth and simply play for a living. Instead, he chooses to become the protector of the Pari people, a much more difficult path. It nearly gets him killed over and over again and makes it impossible for him to have a family.
Kai Tenzin takes responsibility for the lives of over 7,000 people because there is no one else who can. I love this about Kai. He truly cares for his fellow Pari, and he is a natural born leader. On the other side of that equation, he chooses to destroy the relationship he has with his own father because he cannot accept the fact that his wealthy father does not share in his sense of responsibility for their people or care about their shared heritage.
Who controls the story – you or your characters?
At first, I thought I did, but they let me know in no uncertain terms they are in control. I remember one particular night I was finishing up a chapter near the end of the book and I thought up a minor character named Vincent Tsu who is a shape-shifting Pari. Vincent is a kind of smarmy, lounge singer/gambler type. I had just finished the chapter and wrote down his name on my notes intending to add him the next day as it was nearly midnight and I was tired. I swear I could almost hear him behind me, telling me in accented English “sweetheart you need to finish the chapter with me in it.” I mentally groaned and told myself I was too tired to write anymore and I'll do it in the morning. I could almost see Vincent shaking his head behind me and telling me “no sweetheart, I know your tired, but you need to do it now, you can go to bed when your done.” I just knew that if I tried to go to bed, he would keep me up and I would end up getting out of bed, logging back onto the computer and doing what I was being asked to do. So I wrote him into the end of chapter forty. Twenty minutes later when I was done, he mentally told me “good job sweetheart! you go to sleep now.” Vincent is such a strong personality! I have no doubt whatsoever that he will get a much bigger role in a future book in the series.
Have you ever suffered from writer's block? Not yet.
What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
Book two in the Tasting Fire series. It will take place about thirty years after the first book. It will deal with a shape-shifting race based on Hindu legends of the Naga.
What was your favorite book as a child/teen/adult? What are you currently reading?
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle was my favorite book as child. I just finished The Hunger Games. I hate giving in to hype and dug in my heels and refused to read it until just this month. OK.. I thought it was really well written. I still don't like the idea of children killing each other, even if it is meant as allegory against the evils of war.
Any exciting plans for the near future?
As soon as I finish publicizing Tasting Fire, I will get back to work writing still untitled book two.
Now A Taste of Michelle:
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.
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Thanks for having me on Megan Johns Invites today to share my experiences in writing Tasting Fire.
Pleasure to meet you!