Behind the scenes: Rebel Wolf

Chase and Sophie’s story has been a long time in the making. Now they finally get their chance! Find out how the story and characters developed from initial idea to the heartwarming story you loved in this glimpse behind the scenes of Rebel Wolf.

The characters

Both Sophie and Chase have been in the background of each of the previous Pearls of Desire books, all the way back to Book 1 (Rebel Dragon) when we saw them falling in love after meeting for the first time. For three books, we’ve witnessed sweet, shy Chase pining for his true love, and we’ve gotten to see a few of their head-over-heels-in-love encounters along the way. So it was a real pleasure to finally get their story on paper and share it with you!

In Rebel Wolf, you get a clearer picture of who Chase really is and why he doesn’t quite fit into the human world. As a dog lover, made sure Chase embodies all the best characteristics of canines: he’s quiet, fiercely loyal, and has a sixth sense for your feelings and when you need a hug - or a nuzzle. But since he’s a shifter with a slightly more dominant human side, you get all that combined with the book boyfriend of your dreams: big and built, yet considerate and kind, not to mention great in bed. (Oh, er… ahem! Did I just say that? I’m sure I didn’t say that….)

Where did the idea of a man between two worlds come from? Well, I can’t claim to have ever lived among wolves, but I do know that feeling of not-really-fitting-in from all the times I’ve been thrown into a new living situation among people and cultures that were foreign to me, at least in the beginning. But poor Chase had it happen involuntarily, and it’s been a struggle for him. So it’s a good thing destiny brings him Sophie at exactly the right time!

Some of my couples are opposites, while others are perfect for each other. Chase and Sophie definitely fall into the latter category, and their biggest problem is getting over their shyness to finally hook up. In that way, Chase and Sophie remind me of Axel and Beth, the adorable boar/wolf shifter couple from Desert Rose. (If you haven’t read it, you should. They’re so cute! Yes - a boar can be cute. Read it and you’ll see!).

While Sophie is just as shy and sweet as Chase, she’s really trying to come out of her shell. Chase, on the other hand, is tempted to run back to his quiet, simpler life in the woods. So they’re similar on a macro scale but opposites when you zoom in. She’s a quiet bookworm, so she was quite the fish out of water in terms of her family background. The people she grew up among were aggressive, militant types. In that way, her story parallels Chase’s - they both grew up not quite fitting in.

Sophie and Chase’s personalities both reinforce the theme of this story, just like the Maui setting does. It’s a quest for peace, love, and beauty in a sometimes ugly and even dangerous world. Life can be a tightwire act, balancing between those two extremes. Case in point: you can get all depressed from watching the evening news, but when you watch the sun set, all the beauty rushes in again. Sometimes the bad can suffocate the good, but in this book, light and hope win in the end. That’s what makes Rebel Wolf so heartwarming, I think. Don’t you agree?

I can’t discuss characters without bringing in the dogs, of course. They started as background characters but somehow Darcy really stole the scenes! I’ve been a dog owner for most of my life, although I’ve never had a fierce Jack Russell like Darcy. I just loved the idea of a tough little guy who’d do anything for his nice lady! I’m not sure why I decided to name him Darcy, because at the time he first appeared in Book 3, Rebel Lion, I hadn’t actually read Pride and Prejudice. But somehow the name seemed fitting, especially for a bookworm like Sophie. I love how doggie Darcy starts out as taciturn as Mr. Darcy of the book and how he undergoes a similar transformation by the end. I’m delighted that Darcy turned out to be a reader favorite and that so many readers comment on how clearly the canine characters come through in this story.

The story

Rebel Wolf is definitely one of my sweeter love stories - but sexy at the same time! It’s also one of those stories in which I had the characters pegged before the storyline, and I toyed with several ideas (see Biggest change from early draft to final edition, below). Finally, I decided to bring in David, and that allowed the similar-yet-opposite theme to develop further. Sophie has come to sunny Maui, but the dark shadow of her past follows her there. Chase, on the other hand, is considering leaving the island, because evil threatens his home pack far away. Both threats actually stem from David and his extremist militia group, so that’s another subtle link between the two main characters.

David was all too easy to develop as a character. Slimeballs always are! Arrogance and bitterness make a potent combination, I think. The world needs more Sophies, as a line in the book says. But sadly, the slimeballs are out there, and I think it’s easy for most readers to recognize David’s type. The fact that he doesn’t recognize he’s being manipulated by a bigger, badder villain is pretty typical, too. But happily, I can control my fictional world, and the bad guys certainly get what they deserve in the end!

Since Rebel Wolf is Book 4 and the series finale is coming up in Rebel Alpha, Book 5, it was important that this story renewed the overarching threat posed by Moira. She’s still out there, as cruel and conniving as ever, always looking for ways to weaken the shifters of Koakea and Koa Point. So it was a natural fit that she should take advantage of David’s twisted agenda to suit her own. Luckily, Chase and Dell are able to repel the attack she engineered. But just wait till you see what’s coming in Book 5…!

My favorite scene

Usually, I struggle to pick one favorite scene, but it’s actually easy this time. That would be the epilogue, in which Chase and Sophie watch the moon set with the dogs huddled all around them. I can picture it all so clearly, from the warmth of Coco’s fur against my side, to the glitter of moonlight over the ocean on a peaceful Maui shore, and the scent of tropical flowers in the background. Yes, I am a sucker for a happy end! And this one is especially happy because it wraps up the theme of the story. Chase and Sophie have triumphed in their quest for love and beauty, and we, the readers, get that feeling of success, too.

Of course, there are lots of other great scenes, like when Chase comes charging to Sophie’s rescue or when Dell appears with his trademark smile. But what do you think? What’s your favorite scene?

Biggest change from early draft to final edition

The biggest change in the development of this story was that from the original premise to a new one. At first, I had the idea of Sophie witnessing a crime and needing protection from Chase. I had all the details and everything: there was a homeless man who Sophie was always kind to but who was being used as an informant by Moira. Eventually he refused to help Moira because he felt too loyal to Sophie. But then Sophie witnessed Moira’s minions murder the poor man and…and… Well, you get the idea!

And it was a great one, I think. But the militia-from-Sophie’s-past idea developed in my mind at the same time, and I had a really hard time choosing. I eventually went with the militia because it was more closely tied to Sophie personally. But I am hanging on to that other idea for a future book, so keep your eyes open for whatever it might turn into someday!

Cross-links with other series

Many of my Aloha Shifters stories tie in to my Twin Moon series about a wolf pack on a ranch in Arizona. (If you’re not familiar with it, you really ought to check it out!) But in this case, the tie-in is to the Blue Moon Saloon series, which in turn is a spin-off from Twin Moon Ranch. I love doing that, because it’s so much like real life. You might have a friend in place A, and they in turn have a cousin in place B, and then you find out that you and the cousin actually cross paths in place C… and so on! That’s happened too many times to count in my life. Plus, I love revisiting the bear/wolf clan of the Blue Moon Saloon any time I can. Jessica and Simon, Sarah and Soren, Todd and Anna - they and the other couples of that series all worked so hard and risked so much for love. So I can’t help but thinking about them living their own happily-ever-afters - and, hooray! - helping to establish peace in Chase’s wolf pack. It all comes full circle that way.

So there it is - the story behind the story of Rebel Wolf. I hoped you enjoyed the book and this glimpse behind the scenes. The next book in the series is Book 5, Cynthia’s story, Rebel Alpha. But take note! It’s best to read Book 4.5 first - that’s a short story prequel that reveals Cynthia’s backstory, years before she ever arrived on Maui’s shores. Don’t miss Rebel Heart or Rebel Alpha!