Building a Shifter World with Abby Niles and G*veaway

Gotta get in a little plug–I’m over at Marsha A. Moore’s Illusions of Intimacy blog, having fun talking about the unique bonfire levees held each Christmas Eve in the Louisiana river parishes–it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions, even if the stories about how they got started are kind of wild. AND I’m giving away a special treat to one commenter–a copy of the book The Cajun Night Before Christmas. Sure, you could give it to a favorite child in your life, but I bet you’ll want it for yourself. It’s totally cool!

Today, please help me welcome author Abby Niles to Preternatura. Abby is stopping by today as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of her latest book, The Awakening: Britton, which was published on November 25 by Entangled Covet.  The Awakening: Britton is the third book in Abby’s The Awakening series.

Ever since Abby Niles picked up her first Sweet Valley High book in sixth grade and fell in love with Elizabeth and Todd, she’s been hooked on romance. By the time she reached high school, she was devouring meatier romances with pirates, cowboys and knights. She never imagined that those years of reading would one day lead to her becoming a published author. In her late twenties, after having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. Next thing she knew, she was actually submitting to publishing houses. And was immediately rejected. That didn’t stop her though. She found some kickass critique partners, honed her craft, and continued submitting. And eventually sold. Today, she juggles work, being a single mom, and writing. It’s not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?  You can learn more about Abby by visiting her website, on facebook or by following her on twitter. 
ABOUT THE AWAKENING: BRITTON:  “I would lick that man up one side and down the other.” Half-shifter and lead SPAC agent, Val Calhoun, has listened to women gush over the Don Juan of the precinct for the last four years. Yeah, Detective Britton Townsend is hot and has stunning blue eyes, but that foul mouth he saves only for her? What a waste of good looks. And no way does Val want that mouth anywhere near hers. When the shifter community is threatened, Val is assigned to the case…and fails. So the High Council turns to the rogue shifter they’d sentenced to twenty years as a human–that same obnoxiously sexy Detective Townsend. And sends the two arch-enemies deep into the North Carolina Mountains-—together, and alone. Being stuck in a tiny honeymoon cabin with Miss Castration and only one bed is definitely not Britton’s idea of a good time. But the High Council doesn’t take no for an answer. After his shifter abilities are restored, Brit is once again susceptible to the dreaded, irreversible bonding instinct, the Drall. Thankfully, all he’s ever felt for Val is intense loathing, no reason to worry. Right? All he has to do is solve this case pronto, and he can go back to his footloose Casanova ways. That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Or worse…fall in love.
And now, let’s hear from Abby…

Building a Unique Shifter World
By Abby Niles

The shifter world for The Awakening series expanded gradually over the three books and I originally started off with the wrong character. When I first started the series, it was all about the bonding. I’ve always loved the bonding we see in a lot of shifter paranormal. It’s a deeper connection than just falling in love. The souls are usually involved and the pair is anchored together in a more profound way than exchanging vows. But I had yet to read a PNR that really delved into the pros and cons of such a commitment to another. There had to be some. You’re entwining souls. Death has to have a huge impact on the living mate. What if the shifter was rejected by his intended? What if he bonded to her, but she refused to finish it?

Those questions lead me to start writing Liam’s story, where I quickly found out I was starting with the wrong character. So I shelved it and started writing Aidan. I knew in my world I wanted my actual shifters to be only men. I tend to like shifter romances where the men are shifters, but the women are humans. I don’t know why. I just do. But I loved the idea of the daughters born from a shifter father having a latent shifter gene and being aware of the consequences of this mating ritual. Enter Jaylin—a half-shifter who is a psychiatrist to rejected and widowed shifters, but also to humans. This gave me two platforms to build off of. One: the dynamics of the bonding and the pros and cons. Two: the secret world that lived inside the human world.

Once I finished Aidan, I went back to Liam. Here I expanded on what I started in Aidan’s book. The reader had received some info on Liam’s condition and I went deeper into it. Then introduced his human mate, Ava. I’d already established that the shifter community had people strategically placed within the human world to help the shifters keep their secret safe from the humans, then went a step farther in Liam. We meet Val Calhoun, who is the lead detective of SPAC (Shifter Protection and Concealment), which is a secret division within the homicide department of Carnal Ridge, P.D. In Liam’s story, I got to build on how far Val and SPAC will go to keep shifter crime from the human police department even if the crime involves a human. I also started to weave in Britton’s issues and the fact a shifter will be punished by the High Council if he endangers the community.

As we move on to Britton, we are smack dab in the middle of all the secrecy and government concealment. Here is where I really got to build the actual world they live in. Before this, I was peppering in bits and pieces, preferring to focus on the bonding. With Britton’s shifter DNA in a dormant state, the bond didn’t control this story as much as it did the other two. Dealing with the case and the High Council was fun for me. I really got to think about how a community would be ruled by a council and broaden how my actual shifters were made up. My shifters are natural beings. They weren’t some scientific experiment that went awry. They’ve always been around. They’ve always been hidden. They are born with their beast, but do not shift until they are eighteen when the human side has established dominance over the animal. Unfortunately, genes can mutate. Enter the mutated shifter—a male child who can shift from the moment he is born and has no control over the animal. They are dangerous to both the shifter and human community. Also a weapon to use against the council to make them bow to demands. Val and Britton have a hell of a case on the hands.

So my world building happened slowly. For me at least, I preferred it that way. The bonding was the focal point when I first started the series. I feel that because of this, the expansion of world was more natural. I didn’t go crazy nuts trying to fit every aspect of this world into the first book. It just gradually broadened as the series embraced more aspects of the community. As a reader, that’s easier for me, so I guess I subconsciously did what I would’ve wanted as a reader.

Thank you for letting me share my world with you today!
Thanks, Abby!
Leave a comment and enter below for your chance to win a $50 Gift Card from your choice of Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Do you have a favorite paranormal bonded couple, or a series where these types of bonds play a key role in the love story? My Penton vampires (starting with my own Aidan–LOL) have bond-mates, and when one is injured, he or she draws strength from the other in order to heal. The consequences can be deadly, and it makes for an interesting world-building twist. So…what are you waiting for? Leave a comment!

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18 thoughts on “Building a Shifter World with Abby Niles and G*veaway

  1. I love the Patricia Briggs’ pair…such an interesting combination of a coyote shifter and a wolf shifter as her mate…but there are quite a few couples that I enjoy, including Eileen Wilks’ Lily Yu and Rule Turner, Thea Harrison’s Dracos Culebre and mate Pia…my list could go on and on, lol. Thanks for the interesting insight into your world-building technique and for the giveaway and good luck on your release!

  2. i love when the shifters have a special bond with their mate knowing when the other is in distress or in danger etc i do think it can be eally a bonus in a story. for example i do love the special bond between mercy and adam^^ sometimes useful sometimes more an hindrance but always interesting

  3. I enjoyed shifters romance, right now I’m reading the Charred series by Lizzy Ford, but I look forward to reading this series also. Thanks for the blurb and giveaway.

  4. Congrats to Abby on the newest release! I’m gonna have to go with Mercy and Adam from Patricia Briggs and Kate and Curran from Ilona Andrews 🙂

  5. Congrats Abby! I loved this book and can’t wait to read the next one. I love the books with bond mates, have you read any of the Lora Leigh Breed series. I don’t necessarily have a favorite because they are all special. Wishing everyone a wonderful and magical holiday season!

  6. My gosh! There are just too many to name. I love Lara Adrian’s series and of course The Penton vampires **LOL** and sooo many more. Congrats on the new release Abby and thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Congratulations on the new release! The Awakening sounds like a fascinating series. I enjoy the bonding in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  8. Thank you all for stopping by! I’ve seen a few series mentioned I haven’t read, so you guys just helped beef up my to-be read list. Awesome!

    Stephanie, thanks for hosting me!

  9. I love reading the comments to find new authors and series to check out. I was a voracious reader in B.C. times (before children), but with limited time to devote to sticking my nose in a book, I’ve found that I am now picky, picky, picky. Shifters intrigue me as paranormal characters, so I found this post interesting. I am going to try these out. As far as favorite shifter couples….I like Dru and Alex Warin, from the Sentinels series and Dru and Rene (the mere) and how there is a latent magical connection after their sharing episode. Not quite the same as lifemates or bonding. I seriously dislike vampire romance *ducks eggs being thrown* due almost entirely to the Twilight overload, so my reading experience with “bonding” is limited.