The whole series has been a hoot for me. I used to say, "I write all sub-genres of romance except paranormal. I don't have the mind for that."
SO WHY BEARS?
Creativity attacks us all differently. Musicians scribble lyrics on napkins or envelopes. Artists often draw on any flat surface. Writers, who write by the seat of their pants, rely on inspiration. Mine comes to me in the form of handsome males, typically at night just as I’m drifting off to sleep. They tell me about themselves, their loves, and ask me to write their stories.
Roughly three years ago, I had surgery to remove a cancerous cyst from my saliva gland, a rather involved four-hour surgery that’s left part of my left cheek and ear numb. About a month post-surgery, two golden spots appeared at the back of my mind. These round spots glowed, and I freaked—OMG brain cancer. The surgeon didn’t get it all and it’s spread to my brain. So I googled brain cancer like a mad woman, reading all I could on symptoms and nowhere did it state patients complained of seeing glowing spots in the backs of their minds.
I hated to call my cancer doctor, knowing he’d put me through a battery of tests only to prove what I already knew. I had brain cancer. I picked up the phone to call and the golden orbs blinked. Blinked, mind you! Eyes? These are eyes? And they blinked again. Well shoot, I didn’t need a cancer doctor. I needed a shrink! I’ve got freakin’ eyes in the back of my head, glowing and blinking and watching.
So, for a month, they waited and willed me to speak to them. Well, my darlings, I might be half-crazed, but I know enough not to speak to something that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Then one night, when I was almost asleep, these eyes left my head and floated to the foot of our bed into a large bear. Now, I often think characters search for the right author to tell their stories. So I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t write children’s books.” He shook his head. “Oh, you’re not that kind of bear?” He shook his head again and shifted into this dark-haired, muscled, kilt-wearing Scot. He sauntered toward my side of the bed and I reached for my glasses. I mean, wouldn’t you? Would you want to miss one gorgeous inch of this guy?
Again, I apologized. “Hon, you’re still in the wrong writer’s house. I don’t write paranormal.”
He sat on the edge of the bed and I scooted over to make sure his fine kilted behind had plenty of room. “Aye, lassie, but ye will. Me name is Creighton Matheson. In Scottish, mathe means bear and I am laird of sons of bears. Have ye ever heard how bears came to be extinct in Scotland?” I shook my head. I mean, how could I talk with a mouthful of drool? He told me this fantastical story of how the Vikings killed off the male bears and imprisoned the sow and baby bears in a cave along the coastline.
The next morning I googled “Are bears extinct in Scotland?” Chills slithered up my spine. They were. Sources claimed the extinction was due to over-hunting and the government was trying to reintroduce them into the Highlands. But I had a better story; one from a bear-shifter, himself.
Now bears can be determined creatures and mine would have no rest until I started his book. So I set aside my work in progress for a month and wrote a few chapters to quiet the bear. By then I was in love with my bear-shifter, this sexy man with a duality that both wounded my soul and charmed me. I needed…needed…for him to have his HEA.
I was also plagued with a huge problem: I didn’t know the paranormal romance genre. I felt like a fake for even trying to write one. So, I read Terry Spear and her wolf-shifters and Eve Langlais and her Furry United Coalition.
Still, the question remains: Why bears? From my research, bears are a healing totem, one that requires you to rest (hibernation) and to find your strength. Mine certainly helped me through my six months of recovery and to strengthen my writing.
I used it as my play story. Whenever I hit a wall in whatever book I was writing, I’d hop over to my bear story for a week and play. There’s a relaxation in writing something you know no one else will ever read. It gives your mind a chance to work through the corner you'd written yourself into in your WIP. My agent, at the time, knew about it, because I’d told her I was taking a break from this book or that to work through a problem by playing with my bears.
An editor at Random House Loveswept read something I’d written and called my agent to ask if I had anything not yet contracted. Dawn replied I didn’t, but I did have this bear-shifter story I worked on from time to time. “Send me the first three chapters,” the editor commanded.
I was not happy. I told my agent I wasn’t writing this for anyone to read. It was a relaxation tool for me. We argued. I sent in the chapters (I’m such a wuss). Two days later, the editor asked how soon I could have the book done and three were contracted. Maybe I should play more often.
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