Behind the scenes: Love of the Dragon

Silas’s story, Love of the Dragon, was a long time in the making - five books long, in fact! Find out how the story & characters evolved over time to take their rightful places in the saga of this series!

The characters

Silas has been a strong personality since Book 1 of the Aloha Shifters series. His backstory was hinted at all along although the details were always left shrouded in mystery. There are two reasons for that. First, I didn’t want Silas’s story to steal the show from any of the other characters, and second, I wanted to save all the power and emotion for his own story, Love of the Dragon.

While Silas was established very early in this series, Cassandra was only developed much later on. I knew I needed a heroine who could match up to a man as intense as Silas and who could see through the tough guy exterior to the soul locked inside. A woman who could stand up to a lot of pressure and hold her own among powerful alpha shifters. And presto - who better to handle all that than a New York City bartender? Interestingly, Cassandra’s personality was clear to me much earlier than her outward appearance. Usually, I need a mental image as I develop a character, but Cassandra’s personality was so strong, it zoomed ahead of her body in my mind. When I finally got around to deciding on her looks, I decided to go with understated appeal rather than knock-out beauty so that Silas would have the same experience - in other words, he would fall in love with her personality above all.

Have you noticed that a lot of my heroines work in the food industry? Tessa of Lure of the Dragon is a private chef, Nina of Lure of the Wolf is a waitress, and Cassandra is a bartender. That has less to do with the fact that I’ve worked lots of catering and waitressing jobs as the truth that I’m obsessed with food! I have to confess to not being much of a cook (nor the world’s best waitress), and I’m hopeless when it comes to mixing cocktails. But I love eating, so naturally, my fantasy world is not only populated by muscular shifters but also women I would get along with perfectly!

Moira, meanwhile, is a critical character in this book because she allows Silas to literally face his past. That’s a much better solution than writing a boring story with a lot of flashbacks! And Silas, like many of us, has episodes in his past he wishes he could erase. Lucky for him, he gets the catharsis of facing and overcoming his past. (Yay, Silas! I love a hero with regrets. Don’t you?)

The details of Moira’s character were born of a need for a foil to Cassandra. Cassandra is genuine and honest; Moira is…not! Moira is a stunning beauty whose soul doesn’t match her looks - a woman who always feels entitled to more than she has. You know the type, right? I sure do, and I like seeing them come to justice, at least in my books. Of course, you’ve probably guessed that Moira won’t stay away for good, but that’s a story for another day!

Finally, there’s Silas’s very cool house (Jungle Book meets the Sydney Opera House), which has been mentioned in several books in the series but explored in this story for the first time. I got the idea for a sprawling, multi-level, no-straight-lines bamboo structure from this video about a real architect and her work. Wouldn’t you love to live there?

The story

Love of the Dragon is a culmination of the conflict we’ve seen building throughout the Aloha Shifters series, and finally, Silas faces both Drax and Moira. I knew that would happen, but the question was, how? Well, I loved the idea of kicking off the story with a highly charged auction scene - high-stakes poker with a twist, you might say, in which the warring parties face each other right off the bat. We all love Maui, but it was fun to open the book in New York for a slight change of venue. And for several books now, I’ve been thinking of a final confrontation amidst active volcanics - just read back through the series and you’ll find several hints.

So I started plotting by taking the start and the end of the story and slowly filling in the details along the way. Everything fell into place like so many dominoes from there: Silas’s injury, Cassandra exploring the library (a late addition to the storyline, but a good one, I think), their memorable night out, their even more memorable night in, and the rising tension to the story finale on the lower slopes of Volcanoes National Park. Sometimes, I really have to wrestle a plot out of an initial idea, while other times, a story almost writes itself and I have to rush to keep up with it. Love of the Dragon was definitely one of the latter cases, I’m happy to say!

My favorite scene

As usual, I have a lot of favorite scenes. Almost every one in the book, in this case! But if I had to narrow it down, I’d name two. The gala dinner of charities was a hoot to write, especially since I gave fans the opportunity to audition their pets for a role in the book. (That’s one good reason to follow me on facebook if you don’t yet. Just saying!) I managed to fit in most of the auditioned pets and had a great time picturing that scene. I enjoyed the verbal sparring between Cassandra and Moira, too!

Another top favorite is the poke bowl (pronounced “poe-key”) dinner on the beach scene. (I did mention that I love eating, right?) I love simple pleasures, and one of my favorite things to do on Maui is to get a take-out poke bowl and eat on the beach watching the sun set. Sadly, I have never had the pleasure of doing that with a hot dragon shifter, but someday… Hey, you never know! And anyway, that’s why I write books - so I can combine real life experiences with my wildest fantasies! If you’ve never tasted poke bowl, check out the recipe here and give it a try. If you like sushi, you’ll love poke.

Biggest change from early drafts to final edition

Something I kept flip-flopping on in the course of writing this story was the question of whether to make Cassandra human or witch, and if the latter, then how powerful a witch? I ultimately decided on “not too powerful” because I wanted her to face evil forces without special powers of her own. Of course, she has the Windstone, but she harnesses that power with her own strength of character above all else. So that was one change.

Another change was that originally, Cassandra was going to sneak into Silas’s uncle Filimore’s penthouse in an attempt to locate the Windstone, only to find Filimore murdered - and almost getting framed for committing the crime, not to mention nearly getting toasted by Drax shortly after. But that was all a little too complicated, plus I couldn’t figure out how to make that and the auction scene both fit in. So I moved the confrontation with Drax to an alley but kept the Silas-protecting-Cassandra-at-the-cost-of-serious-injury part.

Another big change is that Love of the Dragon went from being the last book in a five-book series to Book 5 in a six book series! So many readers wanted to learn more about Ella, the desert fox shifter, that she’s got her own story: read Lure of the Fox next!