22 April 2011

Please welcome back Pepper O'Neal

Please give a warm welcome back to fellow Black Opal Books author, Pepper O'Neal.

Several people have asked me where I get my ideas for the animal characters I use in my books, as I always have at least one character that’s not human. So I thought I’d use this blog to explain that.

Basically, I take the animal characters from the same place I take my human ones: from real life—from the friends and acquaintance, both human and non, I’ve met throughout my travels. Only with the animals, I don’t have to ask permission first.

I’m a sucker for animals. Always have been. As a child, growing up on a farm, I learned that animals have personalities, just like people do. Now, I’m not saying that animals—other than humans—are sentient beings, but they do all have unique personalities and seem to display many of the emotions we do. I’ve seen animals express happiness, anger, grief, depression, cleverness, shyness, and downright sneakiness. When I was younger, I assumed (you should never do that, you know) that this was only true of domestic animals. It seemed reasonable to me that if the animals lived around humans, they’d pick up some of the human mannerisms and habits, good and bad. But when I started working for a company doing educational documentaries and research in third world countries, I discovered that wild animals also had distinct personalities and gave the appearance of having those same emotions and mannerisms.

One night around our evening campfire in rural Mexico, I expounded on this theory to the team I was working with at the time. The team leader—a gorgeous hunk who was a former CIA officer I’ll call Jake—raised one eyebrow, which he was very good, at by the way. After a few minutes of thought, he stated that while he could see why I would think that, his opinion was that since animals weren’t really sentient beings, while they might experience a facsimile of human emotions, it was unlikely they could experience the same degree of emotions that humans could. This was an opinion I was quick to disagree with some three weeks later when the team was being chased out of an area by an extremely pissed-off wild burro who took exception to our invading his territory.

As we hauled ass down the trail with the burro literally nipping at our heels, I pointed out to Jake that, while I’d encountered some very angry people in my life, I’d yet to see one go ballistic quite as fast as that burro. To which Jake succinctly replied: “Shut up and run, damn it!” We can laugh about it now, but at the time it wasn’t all that funny. Especially since we had to trek back up the trail to collect all our scattered gear once the burro gave up and went away.

I saw all kinds of wild animals during my travels, but I especially loved the wolves. There’s just something so haunting about a distant wolf’s howl late on a moonlit night. Toss a few clouds around the moon and you go from haunting to chilling. Wolves are mostly extinct in all but a few places in the northern hemisphere, so most of the ones we saw were on reserves or in wild animal parks. But there was one when we were in Southern Mexico who used to sneak into our camp to steal tuna fish sandwiches. I don’t know where he came from, whether he’d been someone’s pet, or if he’d escaped from a breeding program somewhere. He was young, skinny, and hungry. He would come just so close and no farther, letting you almost touch him, but not quite. One of our team named him Wiley Wolf, because he reminded us all of Wiley Coyote on those old Roadrunner cartoons. I don’t know what happened to the pictures I took of him, so this is as close as I can get to what he looked like.
When I created the main character for Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, the book that’s coming out on April 30, 2011, from Black Opal Books, I combined Wiley with another one of my team members whom I’ll call Ryan, to come up with a Vampire/Lycan half-breed, named Roman. Since Ryan was definitely an alpha male with—as the whole team agreed—a little too much testosterone at times, by combining Wiley’s sweet and gentle nature, with Ryan’s not so much one, I got an alpha male with a sensitive side, who has tremendous control over his animal nature but struggles with his emotions.

When I emailed Ryan a bio of the character, he responded that he’d always wanted to be a vampire, so he was cool with it. And he figured Wiley probably would be too. Though neither of us has been able to contact him to find out for sure. Since I promised my friends and associates not to use real names or photos, I’ve had to improvise. So this is a picture representing my hero, Roman, not a picture of Ryan.

My heroine in Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny is a half-human/half-tiger named Chase. Both she and the tiger she’s combined with have a story all their own. But I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Visit my website: http://www.pepperoneal.com

Learn more about Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny at: http:www. http://pepperoneal.com/blood-fest-series/

Read an excerpt of Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny at: http://pepperoneal.com/blood-fest-series/excerpt-chasing-destiny/

Check out Sherry’s Duty Calls as well as other Black Opal Books publications at:

1 comment:

Bluebethley said...

What a fantastic story teller! I really enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at what inspires Pepper O'Neal to write her stories.