I love this question in relation to my Shadowcat Nation series of books. It one that, surprisingly, isn’t asked too often. It’s also a decision I was very deliberate about. I have several reasons that went into choosing shifters. I wonder if you’ll agree with my thinking?
At the time I started writing Andromeda’s Fall, the first book in the series, the market was starting up rumblings of being too saturated by paranormal romance, particularly vampires. This was fall of 2013. Now, I’ll NEVER stop writing and loving paranormal romance. That said, I have to admit, as much as I love vamps, I agreed that there’d been a little too much of them and not enough of other paranormal creatures at that point. That gave me a host to choose from: shifters, witches, ghosts, fairies, dragons.
What I’d Just Finished
I was just wrapping up my Svatura series of books (which are currently unavailable as they’ve been contracted – but will be back out new and improved soon!). That series had people with all sorts of supernatural powers. I already had the dragon covered. And most of them had magic-like powers. Some were shifters and I’d really enjoyed describing them, which made a series about only shifters an interesting idea. Often they’re secondary characters.
Let’s face it – there are some awesome animals out there. Ones we look at and think, what would it be like to be as strong as a polar bear, as fast as a mustang, to fly like a falcon, or be as fierce as a mountain lion? At will!
Meanwhile, the majority of other paranormal creatures I could choose from can lean toward horror or downright gross: ghosts, orcs, goblins, trolls, and yes, even vampires.
Limited / Simpler
The few remaining creatures that aren’t always gross/horror – like witches or fairies – are awesome. And I’ll definitely go down those paths at some point. However, I’d just finished the Svatura series. I wanted the challenge of not being able to get my characters out of their situations with magical powers every time. They had to rely on their human wiles and the innate strengths of their animals. I stuck to that with Andromeda’s Fall (and really enjoyed it). I’ll admit to branching out with Sarai’s Fortune – my character is a rare Seer. I just couldn’t resist. But the gift doesn’t help her, it hinders her. The extra powers I put into this series are still limiting in a fun/challenging way, unlike witches or fairies where you can really let the powers fly.
When it comes down to it, I think shifters are just downright sexy. Ladies, who hasn’t wanted to slink like a sexy feline? And men, the alpha thing that many of these more powerful animals is just hot. I also find it extremely tantalizing when someone has additional gifts that make them stronger, faster, smarter, stealthier. But it’s also fun to explore when someone should have those abilities, and don’t.
Those are my reasons. What it comes down to, is I simply adore shifters myself. I love reading about them. Writers take them in so many different directions. And so of course I want to write about them and see what kind of unique spin I can put on this subgenre of books. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the as much as I did dreaming about them and putting them down on paper!