Friday, October 26, 2012

Author Guest Post: Shelly Holt...

Tasting Fire is an unusual paranormal romance to say in the least. When I sat down last March and decided to try my hand at writing my first romance novel, I knew I would have to do something really different to compete against thousands of other talented authors out there. Readers only have so much free time and disposable income at their discretion and deserved my best effort. It was why I decided to write a non-magical, paranormal romance, which is a complete contradiction of terms I know. I decided to create a world that would answer a literary question I myself have had for many years.

Why have cultures thousands of mile apart and in some cases completely isolated from each other, managed to create very similar shape-shifting legends of humans who could transform themselves into animals. Examples range from Japanese kitsune to Native American legends of skin walkers. These are cultures that until the modern era had no contact, yet created legends of shape-shifters that interacted with humans in all manner of ways, some quite intimate.

I decided to treat the issue as if it occurred here in the real world. I created a plot in which a heat loving bacteria lived only in hot springs scattered across the planet. This bacteria infected ancient nomads over twenty thousand years ago. This particular little bug was pretty nasty, but instead of making you sick, it did something much more insidious than that. If you were infected and then came into contact with an animal while the bacteria was still in your system, the bacteria would allow a second DNA code to become attached to the original human one. Over time, the offspring of these infected individuals had two sets of DNA coding that impacted their lives and created physical, social and economic problems that would impact their descendants for generations to come.

Tasting Fire is the story of Kai Tenzin, a man whose ancestor's DNA was mixed with that of an Asian Snow Leopard and Dr. Rae Hales, the human scientist he hires to help hide his race from medical science. Together, they race against the clock to find a way to hide the Pari people (snow leopard shape-shifters) from humanity and fall in love in the process.

Tasting Fire has strong spiritual overtones and extraordinarily well developed secondary plots that involve personal growth and fully defined characters. All of these well designed aspects make for a truly unique paranormal romance. I will warn readers at this point, if you want a book where the hero and heroine fall into bed within the first two minutes of meeting and have mindless sex, this is not the book for you! If you are looking for a rich, textured romance, full of world building and character development, and if you want to lose yourself in an original, intelligent, romantic, sexy, adventure, this is your book!

My thanks to Belle's Book Bag for inviting me on the blog today.

Tasting Fire
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, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and
rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. As a young man, Kai left his small
village where the mountain touches 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.

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 perception. 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 even speak.

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
them on.


Shelly Holt is a new-to-me author and I wanted to thank her so much for contacting me and doing this guest post.  I look forward to reading Tasting Fire.  :)


  1. Hi Shelly,

    Great post,I love discovering new authors. Tasting Fire sounds really interesting. I have never read a paranormal book yet, but will be adding Tasting Fire to my TBR pile. Also great cover. Thanks again for the post.


    P.S. Love Belle's book favorite place to come and check out books :)

  2. Sorry for the late response, I just realized that I should be checking back well after the day of the post for comments. What can I say I'm a slow learner, but I'm getting the hang of blogging now. I glad you enjoyed the post and hope you like Tasting Fire and it opens the door to many other talented writers of paranormal fiction for you. My favorites are Laurell K Hamilton and a brand new discovery of mine Shona Husk.