Will or Willa? Little John or John Little? How did I come up with these characters and their story? Read on to learn all about the “making of” Tempting the Outlaw.
When I started outlining this series, I made a list of familiar characters from the Robin Hood legends and thought about how to flip expectations on some, but not all of them. Little John, the hero of Tempting the Outlaw, is one of the latter: in the legends, he’s always a big, burly guy, so making him a bear shifter was a no-brainer. In the legends, he’s jokingly called Little John, and that’s true of my character, too, though he prefers to go by his real name in this story: John Little. There’s a funny reference to the Little John nickname at the end of Book 3, so keep your eyes open for that when you get there!
On the other hand, finding the perfect match for John took a lot of thinking. Originally, I was going to introduce a whole new character who didn’t have a counterpart in the legends. At the same time, I was trying to figure out how Will Scarlet would fit into my series. Finally, it clicked: Will would become Willa, the feisty, stubborn heroine of Book 2! The catch is, she’s a human who despises shifters, which adds to the story tension.
I think John and Willa are a match made in heaven, and I love witnessing their interactions slowly evolve in an enemies-to-lovers type progression. I hope you do too!
Their foes are also a mix of familar characters and new additions, from the dasdardly Sir Guy of Gisborne to his sister, Lady Thornton. You’ll see a lot of the former in this story, with Lady Thornton coming back for revenge in Book 3, Tempting the Maiden.
Book 2 of three in a series carries certain responsibilities: it has to advance the series arc that was launched in Book 1 and set up the events of the finale in Book 3 — all while telling its own, complete story. As a consequence, the characters travel from Sherwood Forest to Nottingham and on to Winslow Abbey, and that geography drove a lot of the story events.
Each book in the Sherwood Forest Shifters series has a scene or scenes inspired by an iconic moment in the Robin Hood legends. In Tempting the Outlaw, that’s the staff fight on a log over the river in Sherwood Forest — but instead of it being how Robin Hood and Little John meet, it’s between John and Willa!
Otherwise, it was pretty easy to craft a story bringing together all those elements: the love story, the three distinct locations, the treasure intended for King Richard’s ransom (which does double duty in also setting up the events of Book 3), and the ruthless enemy, Sir Guy of Gisborne.
MY FAVORITE SCENE
Where do I begin? The fight on the log is a favorite, as is the opening scene with the push-pull of the tresure chest, and all the bickering in between. Oh, and that steamy night in the millhouse, of course! I also love the scene where Willa is locked in the town stocks, and all the moments in which John comes to understand and respect why she’s so stubborn.
So, once again, I have too many “favorite” moments! How about you? What’s your favorite scene or story moments?
BIGGEST CHANGE from early drafts to final edition
The biggest change from the earliest outlines to this final story wasn’t actually that big— just that the heroine was originally going to be a whole new character who never appeared in any of the legends. Still, this was basically just a name change, as I made Will Scarlet into Willa for the purposes of this story. (Okay, that’s also a different gender, but you know what I mean!)
ICONIC ROBIN HOOD MOMENTS I Couldn’t Resist
Robin Hood wouldn’t be Robin Hood without some of those iconic moments all the written and movie versions share. As mentioned in the making of post for Book 1, there were four such moments I was determined to include somewhere in this series: Robynne splitting an arrow with her arrow, the staff fight with Little John on a log over a river, Robin cheekily waltzing into Nottingham with an illegally poached deer on his/her shoulders, and Friar Tuck cheerily drinking ale in Sherwood Forest.
Two of those moments take place in this story. Did you catch them? I hope you enjoyed them, and watch for more in Book 3!
Thank you for reading the making of Tempting the Outlaw. Make sure you don’t miss the bonus scene and other fun content in the Extras section of my website. If you enjoyed this story and series, please remember to spread the word and post a review. Thank you!
Now, on to Book 3, the series finale: Tempting the Maiden!