Novalee Swan - Enthralling Characters, Romance, Humor and Action
Novalee Swan is the Amazon bestselling author of six novels and novellas. She writes paranormal and contemporary romance. Her Shifter Town series features sexy alpha shifters and small-town charm. Novalee reads too much — is that possible? — likes pretty things and jumps at any chance to travel. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Bear Essentials.
Please give us a short introduction to what Bear Essentials is about
Bear Essentials is about a shy alpha, Connor Reid, who is the largest grizzly in Shifter Town. This makes him particularly lethal, but at heart, he is actually very sweet and shy (although this comes off as gruff and uninterested) because his size has always inspired fear in others, which he hates. This is a particular source of conflict with the woman who captures his heart. Lily Amaretto has scars as deep as the ocean, inflicted by the men in her past who have always been bigger and stronger than her, so when she’s forced to accept a job working for Connor, it takes all her courage and awakens all her fears.
What inspired you to write about a Grizzly Shifter?
I love all kinds of shifters. Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! How could I choose just one kind to write about? And grizzlies are intelligent, powerful, gorgeous creatures—all traits that are incredibly attractive in a romance novel hero (or heroine).
Tell us more about Connor Reid. What makes him tick?
Connor is the eldest child of six. His parents were high school sweethearts, very much in love, but when his father died in a forestry accident, he stepped up to support his mom and younger siblings. His best friends are twin tiger shifters whom he served with in the military. He has struggled with PTSD, and even though he dislikes violence, he never hesitates to protect those who need protection. He’s also very attuned to Lily, even though he doesn’t have the first idea how to court a woman who avoids him like the plague.
What makes Lily Amaretto so special?
Lily has lived a horrible life, but she still tries to be brave. She hides from the world, and she’s aware this is one of her flaws. But rather than waiting to be dragged out of the shadows by others, however well-meaning, she knows it’s something she needs to want for herself. Even though she is afraid, she keeps trying. Lily understands that bravery isn’t the absence of fear, or even overcoming it every time it rears its ugly head. It’s the refusal to stop fighting in the face of fear.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
If I told you that I can shift into a swan it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! Other than that, I am very analytical and a pretty good problem-solver (now I sound like I am writing a resume). Why is this the hardest question on the list?!
Why did you pick a small town as the backdrop for your story?
When I created Shifter Town—aka Rosewood, Tennessee—I wanted to combine all the elements I love from shifter romance into a setting with the charm of small-town romance. In fact, that’s my series tagline: Sexy shifter romance with small-town charm! I also wanted to create a town where shifters of different kinds could live and thrive, side-by-side. Where a lion (the sheriff in town) can be best friends with a wolf (the bad boy mechanic). My world has quite different dynamics compared to a lot of shifter worlds out there, but I think that’s one of the reasons my readers love it so much.
This is Book 4 in a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
All my books can be read as standalones. The series is linked by the town of Rosewood—Shifter Town, to the locals—which serves as the setting. But as a romance series, each book focuses on a new couple. In fact, one of the things I love the most is that characters from previous books always appear in new books, and even though they’ve had their own happily ever after, their story doesn’t just stop there. We get to see them as their lives change and grow after that point. I plan to expand Shifter Town into a large and dynamic series where you feel as if you are a part of the town and the people because you know it so well.
Tell us more about the cover, and how it came about.
I actually designed the cover myself. I’ve got some Photoshop skills (ooh! I can add that to the resume list of secret skills I compiled for you before). Technically speaking, the cover for Bear Essentials is a composite of five different images: 1) Lily; 2) the grizzly (Connor); 3) the woods in the background; 4) the cabin; and 5) the flowers down the bottom. I’m very particular when it comes to my covers, and I wanted the Shifter Town covers to convey ‘shifter romance’ but also the small-town charm that is unique to my series. It was a bit of a struggle to find the right mix, since so often shifter romance covers feature a bare-chested man and lots of dark colors. Even though my books are seriously sexy, that dark tone just doesn’t convey the sense of charm and emotion that characterizes Shifter Town.
When did you decide to become a writer?
During my first undergraduate writer’s class, when I found myself in an environment where I was discussing books and writing craft and techniques and imaginary worlds. I was actually enrolled in a different degree, and I had been writing casually because it was a hobby that stemmed from my love of reading. It was only when I went to my first Creative Writing 101 course that I understood I’d found my place and realized that I could make a career out of being an author.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Only in ways that make for a better story. Although I plot my books, I do so at the overarching structural level, mapping out scenes and important events that have to occur within those scenes. But as new ideas occur to me, I am always very flexible about accepting them because if some new tangent excites me, chances are it will excite my readers too.
How do you force yourself to finish what you're doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?
I’m actually a very single-task-oriented person. I like to finish one thing, and finish it well, before I move on to the next. I can’t always operate that way, since it is not time-effective because there are long periods in writing where you have to step away from a draft so that you can review it with fresh eyes and find the flaws. But whenever I am writing one book, I am always getting ideas for future books in the series, so I have to jot those ideas down as they occur, or I’ll forget them. But this means that when I am ready to write that book, I usually have a list of really great scenes, snippets of dynamic dialogue or great ideas for conflict that I begin to build the story around.
What are you working on right now?
I am finishing up Ever Unbroken (Shifter Town #5) so I can send it to my editor. It is about Renkin Jones, a black-haired, green-eyed Siberian tiger from backwater Louisiana who speaks Cajun French like the mother tongue. He’s intrigued by enigmatic Sabine Rembrandt, a former supermodel and a purebred Arabian Gray shifter who has never been tamed. These two are some of my most complicated characters to date, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how much readers love them. Ever Unbroken is available for pre-order now at all major retailers and will be released on 6 December 2020.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Please visit my website at www.novaleeswan.com. I have lots of great freebies including free books and a fabulous Shifter Town Visitor’s Guidebook with character pictures and profiles. I also have an active Facebook page for Shifter Town fans whom I love to chat with about the series. http://facebook.com/novaleeswan