Monday, April 30, 2012

Make Like the Hulk—And Shift

Guest post by Poppy Dennison

One of the most fun—and most challenging—aspects of writing paranormal fiction is world building. Before you can even begin writing, you have to answer some key questions about the world you’re creating. It’s all in the details. Even the most minor decision can impact how your story unfolds.

Take shifters, for example. There are a ton of tropes that exist for shapeshifters of all kinds, and werewolves in particular. Are they impacted by silver? Can they only shift at the full moon? Do they become slobbering beasts or is their human side still in control?

All are important questions to answer before you start writing. In my novel Mind Magic, one of those “minor decisions” I made early on affected several scenes later in the novel. The question I had to answer: What happens to their clothes when they shift?

Seems silly, but it’s one of those details that readers notice and question. If their clothes are never mentioned, but simply disappear, readers will want to know how and why. If their clothes are left in a shredded pile, readers will want to know about the practicality of them roaming around naked once they return to their shifted form.

Minor details—great impact!

When making my plan for the shifters in Mind Magic, I kept thinking about The Incredible Hulk. Now, I’m probably dating myself a little to admit that I used to watch the television show back in the late 70’s. “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” I love that line.

It always cracked me up seeing The Hulk in David Banner’s clothes. There was a lot of shirt ripping going on in that show. (Kinda sexy, don’t you think? Or is that just me?) I loved the scenes with Hulk’s biceps tore apart the seams of the prim and proper dress shirts worn by the good doctor.

And don’t get me going on the jeans that suddenly became capri pants when worn by the big green guy.

By watching that show, and reading scores of other shifter books, I figured out that having my wolves wandering around in shredded clothes wasn’t practical. But I didn’t want them to just disappear into the magical mist. And having them take the time to take off all of their clothes before they shifted just wouldn’t work for some of the action scenes I had planned.

I had to take the time to think about the magic of shifting, and what it would entail for my shifters. As much as I wanted to see my alpha, Gray, roaming around in a ripped up shirt (rawr!), I knew I would need a different solution to the clothes dilemma.

In my world, the ability to shapeshift is a magical one, so the solution to the clothes also became magical in nature. It worked for all the details I needed to take care of as the story progressed, and by planning in advance, I wasn’t stuck with a continuity problem later in the novel.

When working in a paranormal world, understanding even the smallest details of how your characters are impacted by their supernatural abilities is extremely important. Take the time to ask questions before you dive into the novel. Who knows, maybe shredded Hulk shirts will fit into your world.

Magical species must never mix. According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.

Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.

The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.

Available now from Dreamspinner Press.

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

Visit her on her web site:,

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