Behind the Scenes: Desert Hunt
Inspiration for the story & characters of DESERT HUNT, the Prequel to the Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch
I actually wrote Desert Hunt, the prequel to the series, after writing books 1, 2, and 3! The concept of a prequel was born when I had the opportunity to participate in my very first boxed set called Masters of the Hunt, and took that as my theme. It was also the perfect opportunity to show Ty and the pack at a time when the younger generation (personified by Zack and Ty) was just starting to push at the limits set by the overly traditional old alpha, old Tyrone. Since Books 1, 2, and 3 hadn’t yet gone to press when I worked on this story, I was able to work hints of Rae and Zack into each of those stories. Did you catch them? Remember that early scene in Desert Blood, when Heather wistfully watches couples at the dance? If you read closely, you’ll find that Zack and Rae are two that strike her. These two make many more appearances throughout the series, so keep your eyes open for them!
Zack has so much depth, I just love him. He came to me bit by bit: first as a coyote, then coyote-wolf mix, and finally as Ty’s best friend, the kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Zack is one of the wounded hero-in-waiting types I love so much, one of those rare people who is born into difficult circumstances yet overcomes the odds. He’s a good man who gets his chance to shine despite many trials and travails. I love how he ultimately wins the recognition of the entire pack and even the grudging respect of the old alpha – but he would never have dared push himself that far if it weren’t for Rae.
As a kid, I was a huge fan of Robin Hood, and I couldn’t resist making Rae a skilled archer. I love the idea of the balance of nature: how wolves are actually the friends of their prey because they keep the herds strong. It didn’t take much tinkering with that idea to fill out the rest of Rae’s character and give her a mystical role as Mistress of the Hunt. I wanted a strong villain to add into the mix, so along came Jed, Rae’s old nemesis from her days as a member of North Ridge pack. Jed and Rae’s back story also helped this prequel tie in to the rest of the series – specifically to Desert Fate (Book 3), in which Greer, the evil alpha of North Ridge pack, is finally vanquished for good by Kyle.
MY FAVORITE SCENE:
Rae and Zack riding his Harley to the remote cabin to sit out the storm. I experienced exactly that kind of desert storm myself (too bad I didn’t have a handsome shapeshifter to see me through it!), and love how the tension in the air plays off the tension between the two characters.
BIGGEST CHANGE FROM THE EARLIEST DRAFT OF THE STORY:
I played with several variations of the hunter/guardian theme before I honed in on Zack and Rae’s story. In one early version, I had Zack as the hunter and Rae as a guardian type! Then I had Zack being sent to Nevada to bring Rae safely to Twin Moon Ranch (and unwittingly, to bring her to be mated to Ty). That eventually went by the wayside in favor of the hunting scene that appears in the final version of the story now. It’s funny how a story plays out in your mind in different variations until exactly the right one develops – and that’s exactly how the story of Rae, mythical Mistress of the Hunt, came to be!