About Today's Author:
McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.
She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock.
She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/McKenna-Dean-Author-262328784224302/
What drew you to write about shifters?
I’ve worked with animals my entire life, and usually include them in my stories—writing about characters that can morph into animal form just comes naturally to me. But it’s more than that. I love the world-building that comes with writing shifter romances, and the scope for overall storytelling. Most of us have felt like an outsider at some point in our lives, and shifter stories allow me to explore what it’s like to be different and discriminated against. I also firmly believe in the power of accepting who you are—and shifter stories let me tell tales of internal growth and self-belief.
What’s your favorite type of shifter to write about?
I confess, I’m very partial to big cat shifters. I’ve got two novels out now, and both feature a big cat in them—and I’m planning a series centered around a tiger-shifter detective and her investigative team. That said, I also have a weak spot for mythological shifters too—and my detective is going to butt heads with a griffin-shifter. *rubs hands together with evil delight*
How about reading? Do you have a favorite type of shifter to read?
Definitely big cats and dragons, though I get a real kick out of reading about less dramatic species, like raccoons or otters. You can have so much fun with these non-alpha types! I’m planning a series in which one of the main characters is a hedgehog shifter—and while he gets a lot of flak for it from his teammates, his ability to shift into something small definitely comes in handy at times!
Do you have some favorite authors of shapeshifter books?
I adored Lauren Esker’s Handcuffed to the Bear—she really knows how to combine an action-packed story with steamy romance! I’ll definitely be checking out more of her stories. Roseanna Leo’s Gemini Island shifter books are great fun, too. And of course, Christine Feehan’s leopard shifter stories, as well as Nalini Singh’s fabulous Guild Hunter and Psy/Changling books!
Tell us a little bit about your shifter “world”.
In my world, mythological shifters have always existed in small numbers and secret enclaves—the stuff of legends. But following the advent of nuclear weapons detonation, two things began happening across the world: first, latent shifter genes became activated, creating a new class of shifters from all kinds of wildlife. Secondly, dangerous artifacts of immense power began turning up, resulting in the creation of Redclaw Security to collect, catalog, and determine what these artifacts do.
The Old Guard, so to speak, has set up Redclaw to also police shifter issues in an attempt to maintain their secret status, especially since there is a growing panic among the general population. These powerful dragon, griffin, and phoenix shifters want to maintain the status quo they’ve held for centuries. But some shifters believe that it is only a matter of time before shifter numbers increase to the point they can come out into the open—and that the alien technology should belong to all.
This sets up some delicious conflict—not only between Redclaw and criminal elements, but also with legitimate groups seeking to capitalize on the emerging technology. Each of the Redclaw Security books can be read as a standalone.
What’s next for you when it comes to writing about shapeshifters?
I’m in the middle of writing the origin story for Redclaw just now. Set in the 1950s, it details the establishment of the agency and some of the first agents working to collect the artifacts. After that, I plan to launch the first in the Better Off Red series, which is a spinoff of the Redclaw Security books, focusing on the Major Shifter Crimes division of the agency and its investigative team. I’m deep in the throes of character planning now, and have started a notebook with playlists, photos, and biographies for each of the recurring characters.
I have a light-hearted series planned featuring four shifter women who must find their perfect mate before their biological clocks kick in and pair them with the first shifter that walks through the door—the women will conspire to help each other find the mate of their dreams!
At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.
A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.
With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they each harbor secrets that might tear them apart.