Please join us in welcoming author SJ Himes today on the virtual tour for her latest release, Wolf of the Northern Star, book two in the Wolfkin saga. She’s talking shifters with us today, and she’s also brought along a great giveaway, so be sure to check out the entry details in the Rafflecopter widget below.
The Wolfkin Saga and the Legacy of Shifters
Shifters. Any time someone says the word, there’s some distinct reactions. Either a roll of eyes and a dismissive sniff, or a wide grin and “Oh my gawd, I love shifters!”
Sure, there’s middle ground, but most of the people in the middle haven’t read a shifter book, or shifter books holds no interest for them. One refrain that I hear on occasion is, “Shifters are still a thing?” At that, I roll my eyes. Shifters have been around for millennia, and aren’t restricted to the mm romance and erotica genre.
First Nation tribes have a long history of shapeshifter lore. Skinwalkers of the Navajo, the shapeshifting guardians of the Cherokee, the legends of Trickster Coyote, Thunderbird, I could go on and on. In Greco-Roman times, it was very common for legends to tell of deities disguised as beasts—most famous of them all would be Zeus as an eagle. A common punishment in Greco-Roman (and earlier) mythologies, is for someone to be turned in to an animal (and usually killed soon after), or cast among the stars as a constellation.
In every major, and not so major religion and culture, there is some form of “shapeshifting.” Renaissance and Gothic era painters and artists would depict Satan as a snake, or lesser demons as a humanoid dragon that cast the shadows of wings against a wall. Vampires in Eastern Europe turn to bats and wolves. Indigenous tribes in Africa have legends of hyenas who can mimic the voices of loved ones, luring people into the night. Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Vishnu, is a half-man, half-lion being in the Hindu religion.
Give me two minutes on Google and I could give examples of shapeshifting from every continent. Countless artwork. Even fairy tales—ever heard of the Princess and the Frog? What about the witch who cursed the Beast? An old, crochety hag one second, the next, a divinely beautiful sorceress. Guess what that is? Shapeshifting.
It’s everywhere, and every when. Humanity has been exploring the magical possibilities of shifters, shapeshifting, and the allure for longer than most countries have existed. Since it is everywhere, and every when, why is it so popular now?
There’s a bunch of opinions on this, but my favorite also happens to be the simplest.
Life is hard. Times are tough. There’s a traitor in the White House. The economy may be “recovered,” but tell that to the people whose wages are stagnating while their rent goes up. Tensions are increasing. Strife and conflict are more visible.
Escapism. For many, shifters represent one of the purest forms of escapism. Because if we could turn into an animal, especially a powerful one like a large cat or a wolf, let’s be honest here—who wouldn’t? If that is the appeal now, I can connect the dots on human nature and say some form of that fascination and yearning has existed throughout our histories. Whether seen as punishment, or as an escape, the desire for humans to change their very nature is as old as time. Because if we aren’t human, we don’t have human responsibilities. (I’ve said this a lot.)
In my series The Wolfkin Saga, I took a new (and not so new) approach to telling shifter lore. I love and adore shifters as a whole; the current incarnation of shifterverse books, spread amongst hundreds of authors, tend to have some common themes, and I love those themes. Omegas, for instance. (I LOVE OMEGAS!) There’s a problem for me, though. I can’t write omegas. I tried. I felt like I was copying people. So, I scrapped that attempt.
I decided on a new direction. I erased everything I was trying to create, and started new. I built it all from the ground up. I got rid of mating bites—and made the bonds at the soul. I recast omegas as powerful shamans, and made betas the lowest rank. I gave alphas more than one measure of strength, and through it all, I had to come up with a unique history, a unique culture. I started the series August of 2014, and it took me 10 months to finish the first book, Wolves of Black Pine. I released it June 29, 2015.
For all that I tried to be unique, I still did a crazy amount of research. I spent months reading about different cultures, religions, histories. Art and poetry, from Beowulf to The Odyssey. I borrowed heavily from anthropological treatises and papers of human culture in Europe and Northern Africa during the last Ice Age, and human migration patterns. I wanted to make my world as plausible as I could without abandoning the magic. Through it all, I learned again and again that humanity has always had a fascination with shifters. They represent the darkest and the brightest parts of our own inner natures. Flaws and virtues given wing and claw. We escape into shifterverse as often as we are trapped by it.
Shifters are never going away. They’ve been here for as long as we have, and will be around for as long as there are people to write them.
About the Book
Title: Wolf of the Northern Star
Author: SJ Himes
Series: The Wolfkin Saga, #2
Release Date: June 15th 2017
Genre: Gay Paranormal Shifter Romance
Purchase: Amazon Universal
Find The Wolfkin Saga on Goodreads
BLURB: Ghost, once known as the cub Luca, is finally home. Back among his kind and learning what it means to be both a man and a shaman, Ghost battles the expectations of his people, his family, and the pressures of a society that is both foreign and familiar. His power is greater than any seen before, dwarfing that of even the legendary Shaman Gray Shadow—and his union with Kane places him in the center of a controversy that rattles wolfkin society around the world.
Kane, greater alpha and Heir to Black Pine Clan, has finally defeated the traitor and murderer that destroyed the heart of Black Pine years before. Freed at last from guilt and pain, Kane has a new enemy to face: his own people. Placed on trial for violation of Law and blasphemy, Kane will have to fight to the death to preserve his bond with Ghost and keep his mate and people safe.
The soulbond between Ghost and Kane is forged by the creator and Goddess of the wolfkin. Usually, a sacred and treasured union that honors the pair and their clans, this soulbond is seen not as a gift, but a threat to eons of tradition and Clan Law.
The union of a Shaman and Alpha is anathema—but how to reconcile that belief when it is the wolfkin Goddess who forged it? Can Ghost and Kane save themselves, preserve their bond, and find a new future when the laws of the ancient past threaten to tear them apart?
*This book is part of a series and should not be read as a standalone. Prior books should be read to understand content. 104,000 words*
“Where have you been? With your mate?” Glen asked, and Ghost grumbled.
“Been running around the mountain all night long, thinking. Being a man is hard. How do you do it?”
Glen snorted out a laugh. “Practice.” He nodded at the blanket, and Ghost sighed loudly.
Ghost sat up, wrapping the quilt about his hips. He threw himself back down almost immediately, and Glen found himself unable to resist the plaintive whine that came from his pretty lips. Glen was as straight as they came, but even he could acknowledge the sheer beauty of the human form of his wayward wolf. Ghost was beautiful, inside and out, and yet he had a shade of sadness hovering about his expressive silver eyes. He walked around the couch and paused as Ghost scrambled out of the way long enough for him to sit down. A bare second later he had an armful of lean youth and wiggling limbs.
Ghost curled up in his lap like he used to as a pup, though it was different now, as Ghost was not a wolf anymore. Glen heaved out a groan in complaint, but let Ghost hide under his chin and snuggle. He hugged the boy to his chest, and they both relaxed, adjusting easily enough to the new dynamic.
“What’s wrong?” Glen asked, and Ghost responded in a tiny voice.
“They put Kane in a cell in the woods yesterday. And they want to destroy our mate bond.”
Glen could recall only two times in his entire life he ever got angry enough to kill. Once was back in college when he tore a drunk frat boy off a cussing and furious redhead who then proceeded to wallop her attacker. The other time was when he rescued a malnourished wolf-hybrid from a careless and ignorant suburban family in the outskirts of Toronto, the poor thing starved near to death and skeletal thin. As he did then, he ran his hands over the back of a young wolf’s head, and said, “Everything is going to be okay.”
Glen managed to hold onto his temper, but it was a battle. The youngling needed a shoulder to cry on, a place to relax his guarded emotions, and Glen would be that safe place for him.
“I wanted to come home more than anything,” Ghost whispered, pressing his face into Glen’s chest. “But nothing good has come of it. They think me damaged, weak. Vulnerable.”
“We both know you are not damaged or weak. I don’t think I would have survived fifteen years locked away in the body of a wolf, deprived of any sense of self or family. You’re strong. And what do you mean nothing good has come from returning to your people? You have your man now, Kane. He’s your mate, no matter what those fools may say or think.”
“He’s in a cage, Glen. In the woods, alone, surrounded by alphas who wouldn’t hesitate to hurt him. I can feel him through our bond. He’s frustrated, and misses me. I haven’t seen him since they took him away yesterday We can’t talk because the alphas might be able to overhear us, but I can still feel him. It hurts not being with him.”
About Wolves of Black Pine
Purchase: Amazon Universal **On SALE $2.99 until 5th July**
The Wolfkin Saga #1
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Genre: Paranormal, Shifters, MM Romance
BLURB: An ancient civilization long hidden from humanity is on the brink of chaos and war.
Peaceful for thousands of years, the wolfkin clans are mysteriously losing packmates, kidnapped and killed by unknown foes. Among the dead is Luca, youngest grandson of the two most powerful wolves in the Northern Clans, but he is forced into a half-life, hidden in the far northern wilds of Canada and cut off from his kind. Those who raised him have no idea the creature they harbor in their midst, and name him Ghost. He begins to lose himself over the long years, and though he barely recalls his true name, the one wolf he never forgets is Kane.
Heir to the wolfkin clan Black Pine, Kane is charged with hunting down the traitors who them to the humans. Years fly by, and more wolves are dying. He refuses to give up, and he vows to never again fail another of their kind, as he failed young Luca years before. His heart tells him Luca lives, but his mind tells him that it’s foolish hope, his guilt eating him alive.
Fate and magic change the course of their lives, and the two wolves long separated by the years find their paths intertwining, though the reunion does not come without cost…
150,000+ words, contains graphic sex between men, dubious consent, mentions of abuse. Contains gore and violence. Mature readers only.
About the Author
I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with ocasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), and The Wolfkin Saga. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.
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