Behind the scenes: Sasquatch Surprise
Whoa – a sasquatch shifter? Believe me, I was pretty surprised when that character popped out of my imagination. And I never imagined he’d get his own love story. But my mind tends to run away with the unlikeliest of characters, and before I knew it, Harrison had stolen my heart. He seems to have had that effect on many fans, because they kept asking for Harrison’s story. So I’m really delighted to finally share it with you – Sasquatch Surprise!
But really – a sasquatch? Yes, really. Think Chewbacca. Think Bigfoot – you know, the guy in those blurry pictures that appear from time to time when someone thinks they’ve spotted a giant, furry, humanoid beast in the woods. I have to confess, my mind was mostly on Chewbacca when I wrote Harrison – a big, ferociously loyal, don’t-mess-with-my-friends kind of guy. And voilà! A new shifter species was born!
This characters in this story have their roots in Desert Wolf, the first sequel to Lana and Ty’s story (Desert Moon). That story demanded an opportunity for Ty to show his heroic side, and somehow I came up with him overcoming a sasquatch. As it turned out, the sasquatch didn’t mean any harm, and his parting words really stuck with me:
“I didn’t mean it!” Harrison cried, so broken and lonely Lana almost felt sorry for him.
That line was the clincher. Harrison came across so lonely and wounded in that brief scene – so full of character and mysterious backstory – that my heart cried for him. In my mind, he was always the lonely, gangly kid who tried hard but never quite fit in. Sasquatches, I figured, are solitary creatures of the woods. Yet Harrison is different – the one outlier of his species who yearns for more contact and more friends. (Yes, there’s a lot of the young Anna Lowe written into the character of this big hairy guy! I’m sure I’m not the only one who often felt left out and awkward as a kid.)
Sadly, Harrison goofed big-time with his innocent prank the day of Ty’s visit, and he left the Berkshires shortly after to wander the great white north. Those hard years toughened him up and made him grow up fast. They almost made him too tough, in fact, to the point that he risked losing his core charm, his sensitivity. But he never forgot the woman who made his heart thump, and that’s what pulls him back home in Sasquatch Surprise.
So I had my hero. Next, I needed his mate. Someone out of bounds, forbidden… maybe even a step above him in life. From the very start, I knew that would be Lana Dixon’s younger sister, Nala. (The sisters’ names are so close due to the family tradition of naming kids with the syllables from her parent’s names – Nate and Laura – as alluded to in several Twin Moon stories.) Nala was actually present when Ty humiliated Harrison and I always pictured her trying to comfort the sasquatch after the event.
It didn’t take much to fill in the rest: Nala has lived a fairly comfortable life, as a lot of younger siblings do. She’s had a lot of people looking out for her, and she is eager to break out on her own – hence moving to Boston to study and be her own person. But when she does, she discovers how much she loves home. (That was me, too – racing away to college only to realize how my home place was a part of me). As the younger sister of Lana Dixon, Nala has a tough act to follow, and she often wonders if she can measure up. (That’s another Anna Lowe similarity – I always had hero worship for my older sister!) Nala has never been truly tested – until the vampires come along and thrust her into survival mode. That’s her chance, as it turns out, to prove just how tough and capable she is. It’s also her chance to win over the man she secretly crushed on for years.
A big question for me was where to set Sasquatch Surprise. Although it’s linked to the Twin Moon Series, both Nala and Harrison hail from New England, and I decided to keep the story there rather than in the desert Southwest. I love the Berkshires in winter when the woods and hills are blanketed by snow, and I love the bucolic backdrop of Vermont’s Green Mountains in all seasons. The setting was ultimately clinched when I decided to set this story during the holidays, because New England in winter screams “Christmas” and “New Years Eve” to me.
The rest pretty much flowed from there. I needed a situation in which Nala was vulnerable and on the road – so, bingo, she is heading home for the holidays from Boston. (I’ve lived there, too, and I LOVE imagining all the crazy paranormal creatures inhabiting historic Cambridge.) And bad guys? Well, vampires, of course, because I needed a formidable foe for both Nala and Harrison to overcome.
At it’s heart, though, Sasquatch Surprise is Harrison’s redemption tale. It’s the story of a hero coming back from a period of suffering and self-imposed exile to fight for what he loves most. At the same time, it’s Nala’s coming-of-age tale when she shows what she’s capable of. Both characters have been touched by destiny in the past, but neither truly fought to control their own fate until the events of this story force them to. And that’s what I love about this story: both characters grow and develop. Both get their happy end.
MY FAVORITE SCENE
My favorite scene in Sasquatch Surprise is the cuddling-for-warmth-during-the-blizzard scene. What better way to bring old friends close together again? I love how Harrison and Nala are so close but still coming to grips with the attraction they feel. When I close my eyes, I can feel Harrison’s body heat and hear the howl of the storm outside. I feel Nala’s shiver in my toes and the scratch of the hay. I hear the whispered conversation that harbors so many unspoken hopes and heated dreams.
If you’ve read a few of my stories, you know that I’m a sucker for a happy end. That’s why my other favorite scene is the epilogue. I love the image of Harrison being welcomed back into the wolf pack as a hero and a lost son. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding out you were never really rejected – you just needed time to find your way home. The cozy cabin with the fireplace and quilt is a major bonus, too. That final scene is packed with so many details of a perfect Christmas – frost on the window panes, kids pulling sleds, and coming in from the shiver-inducing cold to a warm bed and a well-deserved lover….sigh! To me, that’s the very definition of peace.
How about you? Which scene is your favorite?
BIGGEST CHANGE from early drafts to final edition
The biggest change in this story was that from a road-trip story that crossed a big part of North America to a story set entirely in New England. Originally, I was thinking of having Nala drive from Massachusetts to Arizona with her brother (who was going to ditch at the last minute and send Harrison in his place as a protector for Nala). While I loved the concept, I eventually decided on a cozy New England holiday setting instead. And who knows? Maybe I’ll send Harrison and Nala on a cross-country trip in a sequel soon!
CROSS-LINKS with Twin Moon Ranch
This story is a spin-off from Desert Wolf which in turn is a follow-up story to Desert Moon. I never imagined my story world growing so big, but the characters are so real to me, and they’re all interconnected through family ties and intertwined destinies. Plus, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring Lana Dixon and Ty Hawthorne back to the East Coast while giving Harrison his crowning moment at the same time. A happy end for everyone, you might say!
I hoped you enjoy reading Sasquatch Surprise. Happy holidays, everyone!