Back when I wrote Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1), I didn’t do it as the beginning of a series. In fact, that was the last thing I meant to do. It wasn’t a genre I usually wrote in. I was bucking the trend in how it was written. I figured it would be a one-off and I would move on. More than that, I had never considered doing a series. What I didn’t know was that book would spawn a main character I love to write and who still had stories to tell.
Now, five years later, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. As the link shows, this is the fourth book — and the fifth title — in the series. It is a direct continuation of the previous book, Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3). For the first time, the series picks up immediately after the previous book ended. There has been no elapsed time and Mac is struggling to not only come to terms with what happened in the previous book but to find the best way to deal with the fallout without revealing the existence of shapeshifters to the world-at-large.
What I’ve discovered as I’ve written each book is the series is that the world the books take part in is changing along with Mac and her friends. In Origins, Mac’s Dallas was pretty much the same Dallas I know. The only difference was that there happened to be a few folks around who could shift into animals. Some of these people, ones like Mac, were what they called pures. Shapeshifters from a long bloodline who could control their shifts and who did not lose their humanity while in their animal forms. Others, the weres, more often resembled the werewolves from old Hollywood films. They turn more feral when in animal forms and that characteristic often followed them into their human lives as well. The weres felt they were at the top of the food chain and chafed at the restrictions put on them by the pures. While not exactly a good vs. evil sort of thing, that was how Mac could justify stepping outside of the law to deal with the weres, the lycans, that had been using Dallas as a hunting ground.
In no way was she comfortable stepping outside the bounds of the the law she had sworn to uphold. But she knew she was caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. If she followed the letter of the law and arrested the lycan responsible for the murders, she ran the very real chance he would shift while in custody and then the secret would be out. If she had a problem accepting the fact there were people who could turn furry, how would the public-at-large react? The answer was easy — not well. So she did what she needed to do, she upheld shifter law if not human law. But it wasn’t something that set well with her.
Since that first book, the shifter world has started fleshing itself out. Past history has bred new conflicts, conflicts that threaten not only a civil war among shifters but war with the normals as well. Mac and company are now faced with a most difficult decision. Do they stand by, letting events continue on the road they are on or do they stand up and take action? Neither decision is without pitfalls.
Something else that is starting to become more clear in the series is the relationship between the human part of Mac and the others and the animal parts. From the beginning, I’ve known that the animal aspects were always present in the back of the minds of their human counterparts. In Challenge, that relationship is explored more than it has been before. Part of this is because Mac will need a better understanding of her animal aspect, not having grown up knowing what she could become. Part of it is because that is what the book demanded (yes, yes, I know. I’m the author. I should tell the book what it is going to be not the other way around.)
So what is the future of the series? There is at least one more book left. That next book (or possibly the one after it) will end the current story arc. However, I have a feeling that won’t be the end of my relationship with Mackenzie Santos. She is one of those characters that doesn’t take sitting in silence for long well. Right now, I have a short story, or possibly a novella, featuring her brewing in the back of my mind. This one will also feature her shifted animal, a jaguar, a creature almost as mouthy as Mac can be.
So here’s the plan. Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. Publication date is December 15th. If you follow the link and pre-order it now, you won’t be charged for it until the release date. Here’s the blurb (and it will be tweaked before final release):
The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.
If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.
What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.