LR: Dani Harper is the author of Heart of the Winter Wolf, a paranormal romance
published by New Concepts Publishing. Ms. Harper, please give us a brief summary
of your book.
DH: Dreams of a great white wolf once helped Jillian Descharme overcome
trauma and rebuild her life. Later the lupine dreams seemed to warn of
impending changes. Was it coincidence that the dreams returned when she met
James Macleod, a giant of a man with secrets she could only guess at?
James Macleod was a Changeling who'd lost everything dear to him in a single
night of blood and fire. Devastated by guilt and driven by grief, he became
a great white wolf and vowed never to walk as a man again - until a small
blonde veterinarian shook his resolve and his world. Now James must remember
how to be human and walk in his human skin again in order to solve a
frightening riddle: Who is this beautiful woman and why is his wolfen side
LR: I know authors dread to hear the question, Where did you get your idea
for this book? So let me ask instead, will you tell us how Heart of the
Winter Wolf grew from an idea into a book?
DH: I guess I could start by saying I didn't plan to write a shapeshifter
story! I had been writing non-fiction for years, for newspaper, magazines
and so forth. I felt that I wanted to try fiction again, even if only for
fun, so I started scribbling a few notes. One of the characters from Heart
of the Winter Wolf emerged quite quickly and just as I was wrapping up the
first chapter, he turned into a wolf! My first reaction was "Hey, you can't
do that!" Of course, he didn't listen - I've since learned that characters
never do what you tell them - and the story evolved from there. I shouldn't
have been surprised, really. I've loved all things paranormal from a very
LR: Is Heart of the Winter Wolf part of a series or will it become a part of
DH: My characters tend to be very demanding. Halfway through the first
book, they began clamoring for their own stories to be told! So yes, Heart
of the Winter Wolf has become Book One of the Dunvegan Wolf Clan Series.
After all, the hero has three brothers, two sisters and several friends, all
of whom are Changelings like himself. I'm working on books two and three at
LR: I've read a few books that included shapeshifters as yours does. What is
a shapeshifter and where did the idea originate?
DH: A shapeshifter is just one name for someone who can physically assume
the form of an animal. Changeling and skinwalker are other names. In my
book, the Macleod family and their friends can assume the form of wolves at
will. Shapeshifters have been present in the folklore of virtually every
culture on the planet since human beings began telling stories. The
skinwalker of Native American lore, the werewolf of European legends, the
lobizon of Brazilian stories, the Naga of India and the werefox of Japan -
all involve human beings who have the ability to physically change into an
animal. This change can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the story.
Sometimes it's a great blessing, more often it's a curse.
I've taken the approach that the shapeshifting ability is a wonderful gift -
yet it frequently complicates the person's life as much as it enhances it.
It complicates their love life too!
LR: What sources did you use to give you information on this subject?
DH: Perhaps due to my newspaper background, I adore research! I was
already well acquainted with the immense variety of shapeshifter myths, so I
felt the door was wide open to create my changelings as I would like to see
them. Most of my research for this book involved real wolves. I used the
Internet a lot, but you have to be extremely careful to use credible
sources --- and I wanted every fact to be backed up by at least three
credible sources. It was very important to me that the wolf information I
presented in the book was correct - at least, as correct as it could be
considering we're still learning about wolves and there are differing
opinions between scholars on some subjects. I've had the privilege of seeing
wolves in the wild, which also helped. Plus, I've had the choice experience
of working in a veterinary clinic and that taught me a lot too.
LR: Since I've read a few books with paranormal elements I can truthfully
say that shapeshifters grab my attention and interest enough to make me want
to read more stories like this. What other books and/or stories have you
written and do they have paranormal elements as well?
DH: Heart of the Winter Wolf is my first published novel since leaving the
newspaper world. But I have other works in progress aside from this series,
two of which involve vampires and one that features an Irish phooka. There's
a ghost character that keeps pestering me to write about him, and a dragon
that hangs around in the back of my mind as well. So I guess you can tell
that the paranormal is a big component of my writing --- there's just so
much possibility and fuel for the imagination!
At present, I'm writing paranormal romance. I'm fascinated by how people
come together. No two people are alike and neither are any two couples. I
think that makes for an infinite number of stories. I can see myself also
writing science fiction and fantasy in the future, however. Those are the
genres I grew up on, and I still love them.
LR: Ms. Harper, I'd like to ask some questions about your writing habits.
What made you decide to become a writer?
DH: Becoming a writer really wasn't a decision - it seems to be part of who
I am. I've been writing since I was three and scribbling wiggly lines on
paper with my crayons. I spent my childhood reading voraciously and writing
epic tales (okay, I thought they were epic - they were certainly long!).
Later I traded in the crayons for a computer at a newspaper and eventually
sat in the editor's chair. I moved on to write for magazines and so forth,
but really didn't get started writing fiction again until just the last
couple of years. Best thing I ever did! It was like coming home - this is
truly my passion.
LR: Do you write full-time or part-time? What kind of a schedule do you
DH: I'm one of those annoying morning people. My brain is alert and at its
best in the early hours, so I start writing at about 5 or 5:30 a.m. every
day of the week. I write as much as I can until I hit a plot bump and then I
take a break and do something else until I think of how to solve it. This
means I'm thinking about my story while I'm grocery shopping, driving to the
post office, walking Scooby the Pug (my Official Muse) and so forth. I have
pads of paper and numberless pens stashed in the car, every purse I own and
all of my pockets. My husband says I leave a trail of post-it notes wherever
I go. I've been known to jot ideas on paper napkins, event programs, the
edges of newspapers and even my checkbook. I wake up in the middle of the
night and scribble ideas on a steno pad by my bed. When I sit down to write
in the early morning, there's usually a little stack of notes to work
LR: Do you write quickly through your first draft and then edit or do you
edit as you go along?
DH: I tend to edit as I go along. Too many years of being a newspaper editor
I guess! But once I've finished a chapter, it's unlikely I'll have to
revisit it much. Unless of course, my characters stage a coup, run off with
the plot and take it in such a direction that I have to go back and work it
into the story.
LR: What advice can you give to aspiring writers, that has helped you become
the published writer you want to be?
DH: Number one on my list is READ. I've had to conduct interviews for
reporter and communication positions, and over the years my top question
changed from "What schooling or experience do you have?" to "Do you like to
read for fun?". I've been shocked at the number of journalism grads I've met
who did not enjoy reading for its own sake! And believe me, it really showed
in their work.
Number two on my list is WRITE. My goal is to write something every day,
even if it's only a few sentences. If I get bogged down on a project, I've
learned to leave it and write something else, be it silly or serious or even
just a letter to a relative, but I don't let myself get away with not
writing anything. Not only does writing improve over time by doing, but
creativity is stimulated by doing. However, there's a fine line between
stimulating creativity and trying to force it. For that reason, I don't
believe in trying to produce a set number of pages or words a day. Speaking
strictly for myself, I've found it to be counterproductive.
LR: Ms. Harper, thinking of all the writers that will surely be reading this
interview soon, create for us at least two writing prompts to hone our
DH: I had a lot of fun writing these. The hard part is stopping!
Something shadowy teased at the edge of Janine's vision as she walked. She
turned quickly but saw only the dark empty street. Walking faster, eyes
darting from side to side, she couldn't shake the impression that she wasn't alone.
She turned the corner quickly and screamed as she collided with..........
Daria put her hand on the dusty old suitcase. From the looks of it, no one
had opened it for years, but the answer to her sister's disappearance had to be
in there. She pressed the rusted latches, hard, then harder until they
reluctantly sprang open.
Holding her breath, she lifted the lid and saw............
LR: Thank you, Ms. Harper, for the prompts. I want to thank you for the
interview as well and to wish you good luck with your future writing
endeavors. Please let us know when you next book comes out.
DH: Thank you so much for the interview. I really appreciate the opportunity
to talk about my work and about writing in general. Regarding my next book,
all my latest news is on my website at www.romancingthewolf.com. Thanks
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