Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. Kai leaves his small village where the mountains touch the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.
My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving
Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping
desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives
a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of
myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take
The Asian Snow Leopard is one of the most endangered species on the planet. Their numbers have
never been high, but illegal poaching endangers them even further, as their luxurious pelts are highly
sought after on the black market. There are only an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 left in the wild.
Eight months after I decided to write a paranormal romance about a shape-shifter named Kai Tenzin
whose alternate form was that of the exotically beautiful and highly endangered Asian Snow Leopard,
I still ask myself why did I chose to write about snow leopards? There are many endangered animals I
could have chosen to focus on.
I remember back in March of this year when I decided to write a paranormal romance and made the
executive decision to explain the presence of shape-shifters in my world without the use of magic. I
drew up a plot that revolved around the hypothesis that the various shape-shifting legends from many
different cultures all over the world were based on what human beings had witnessed over thousands
of years and a result of a scientific phenomenon. I researched methods of bacterial transmission and
eventually came up with the idea that if shape-shifters throughout history were caused by an infection,
it would have to be difficult to catch, otherwise everybody and their grandmother would be a shape-
shifter. That was how I decided to make the infection come from a thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria
that only lives in hot springs around the world. You can't catch it from another shape-shifter, but
you can inherit the condition from your parents. This method of transmission gives rise to the many
different mythologies of shape-shifters that have evolved from every culture on the planet. This also
opens the door for other books in the series.
Once I had the basic outline, I needed a species that would be highlighted and the main love interest
in the story. I sat down on the floor and went through all of my books to get an idea of which animal
I should chose. I came across a .25 cent library discard I had purchased about snow leopards and their
cubs. I read the book for the first time and fell in love with the highly endangered exotic cat. Snow
leopards evolved to become the highest predator altitude wise on the planet and as an apex predator,
their only enemy is man. I learned if there was ever an animal that deserved a spotlight thrown on it,
the Asian Snow Leopard was it. After that, I spent several days learning about this amazing animal
and how it evolved in one of the harshest environments on the planet and until the arrival of modern
firearms turned the tide, survived without competition at the top of the world.
My story too evolved from the original basic outline, to the intelligent, sexy adventure it is from
learning about this beautiful animal. I decided early on that my hero, Kai Tenzin would have to be
from the Himalayas for the book to work. Kai Tenzin is from a small village in Tibet because snow
leopards live in the mountains of Tibet. In the story, one of my favorite chapters is a charming original
folktale told by Kai's father to the heroine, Dr. Rae Hales called (How the snow leopard lost her roar)
it's the Pari's creation myth with a Hindu influence as our favorite leopard also lives in India, again the
snow leopard helped dictate the direction the book took.
I have no doubt in my mind that Tasting Fire is a direct reflection of the animal I chose to become a
shape-shifter. If I had used a different animal, my book would have turned out very differently.
Tasting Fire is not your average paranormal, shape-shifting, romance. If you want a book where the
hero and heroine fall into bed within the first two minutes of meeting and have mindless sex, than this
is not the book for you. If you are looking for a rich, textured romance, full of exotic cultures and three
dimensional characters and if you want to lose yourself in an intelligent, romantic, SEXY, adventure,
this is your book!
I'd like to thank LovLivLife Reviews for inviting me to visit today and share my experience of writing
Tasting Fire with you.
Rae took an admiring look at the vista below as she dropped her heavy pack on the ground. The
mountains in the distance looked purple and the desert brush spread out below them like a master
oil painting. It was awe inspiring to human eyes. Rae wondered what would it look like to a snow
leopard. She suddenly realized many a biologist would sell their very soul for the opportunity she had
at that moment. Rae turned to Kai who had been sitting on the ground with his pack and fishing around
for lunch and asked him “what is it like when you're in your Shan form out in country like this?” Kai
rewarded Rae with the most brilliant smile she had yet seen to grace the handsome shape-shifter's face.
He seemed truly delighted to discuss the subject with her. Kai stood up to answer Rae's question. He
addressed the human scientist. “It's like nothing you can imagine Rae. Every sense is in tune with
the planet. See that tree over there” he pointed a few yards away at an ancient gnarled pinyon. “Yes”
Rae replied. Kai walked up behind Rae and put his hands on her shoulders and directed her to look
even closer at the tree. He whispered intimately in her ear as if they were in a church or another sacred
space “when you look at that tree with your limited human vision, the average person can certainly
appreciate its form and color. A biologist like yourself would ask what type of tree is it and how old
it is. A philosopher might ask who may have sat underneath it in the past or who might sit underneath
it in the future. All of you might even wonder when will it die. That's the limit of your human
When you're in Shan form every single leaf will bid you a glorious greeting as you walk up to the tree
for the first time. Every drop of sap tells you the history of the tree's life like an intimate biography
written in the utterly sensual language of scent. The tree itself will tell you if it's healthy or sick. You
can smell if the water that nourishes it is bitter or sweet. If you deeply pay attention you can smell
every animal that has ever been there.” Kai looked to Rae like he was experiencing a spiritual moment
and Rae suddenly realized he was. The enthralled shape-shifter continued to explain to Rae the
nuances of the animal world “when you are ready to move on to another place you reach up with your
powerful claws and dig deep into the bark to mark the tree with your scent. It's added harmoniously
to the scent of hundreds of other animals. You do this not just to mark your hunting territory, but to
tell every animal after you have left this world that you lived and breathed here at one time in the great
mystery that is life. That is your only immortality in the animal world. There are no monuments to
mark a man's ego, or family albums for a mother to remember her children by, but neither is there
hate, nor fear of the future or regret of the past. You are fully alive in each and every moment. It's a
wonderfully free existence. I wish I could truly share it with you... words, words pale in comparison.”
Kai looked so happy at that moment.
Rae was so moved by what he had just shared with her that all she could do was reach out and touch his
wrist. “Thank you!” she whispered. Kai nodded at her in acknowledgment, but he was too emotional to