ShadowShifter Series - Team Aristan or Team Thesian?
June 28, 2016
A lot of my friends and colleagues often ask me how did I create the ShadowShifters and why did I feel the need to create two races of werewolves to make my world out of. Most just wanted to know how they were different and why.
As many people know, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for werewolves and all things paranormal actually. My first short story I’ve written was a vampire story set in medieval era. Though I liked the characters, I didn’t love them.
There was a lack of humanity in the vampires that I couldn’t repair. Maybe it was me, but part of me wanted my hero to have humanity without being human. Enter the fascination with werewolves. Even as a little girl, I remember feeling sorry for all the werewolves I saw on film and television. Even Stephen King’s “Silver Bullet”, which had a brutal portrayal of a werewolf, some part of me felt deep sympathy when he died and you were able to see what he really was…just a man, flesh and blood who somehow lost his way.
Growing up reading sensual romance in my teen years, I began to feel the itch of the pen and tried my hand at writing a story about a dysfunctional relationship between a witty, stubborn werewolf and a young college student studying to be a veterinarian. Their names at the time were Patrick and Alyssa, respectively. I had adored their chemistry together; however, when I wrote their scenes I wrote it short-sighted and only focused on their love scenes. Yeah, I was a horn dog in those days. Because I liked the characters but couldn’t put them in a decent plot, I left them. I stashed them away in an old notebook and let it fester as I moved on to other projects.
Maybe several years later (roughly 8 years) I started digging around and found some of the old scribbling of these two characters and wondered what I could do with them. I liked Patrick, but he was too hard. Alyssa was just as rough. I began readjusting their personalities a bit more, but realized soon to makeshift storyline with Patrick and Alyssa set in college just wasn’t gonna work. I needed them more mature, more multi-faceted. So I did the hard thing. Trashed the work and started fresh. I wanted to build them both from scratch: hero and heroine.
This was where the magic happened for me. Upon working on Patrick’s (Now Aidan) character sketch, my mind began to want to go far back…back to before he even existed. It was then I desired Goddesses to be responsible for the creation of the werewolves. Twins. Beautiful lonely women with lots of time on their hands. That’s when I played with the ‘evil twin’ ideas, light and dark side of the moon and such until I settled on a beautiful, simplistic backstory:
Two Goddesses of the Moon, Arista (of light, strength and virtue) and Thesia (of darkness, grace and mystery) were bound together by blood. Arista decided to create a race of humans who would love and pay homage to them alone. So she gifted villagers and fighters from Phenes with the power and mystique of the wolf- an animal who reflected unity, cunning and respect. These animals were already blessed by the sisters as they paid homage to the moon.
In a fit of jealousy, Thesia hated them as these ‘Aristans’ only paid homage and prayed to Arista only. They did not recognize Thesia. This hatred broke apart the sisters. It was then, Thesia created beings of her own that would love her and see her as their Goddess. These “Thesians” were brawnier and war-like than her sister’s people. They also were not able to change at will like the Aristans. Despite the differences physically there was character traits associated with each. Aristans needed order to survive. They pack together and formed societies almost immediately.
Part of their organization is the military, which they call the Azanesti Order is the primary facet of protection for the pack. Each pack had an Order- Strong, stealthy Aristan fighters that were dedicated to protect. And each pack Order has a general. It was not uncommon for the Azanesti General to also be the Alpha leader of each pack or clan. This was why I made Aidan an Azanesti General. I found it intriguing and sexy for a man to be so dedicated to protecting and loving his people.
There is so much baggage there and so much pressure to succeed; it basically shaped how Aidan’s character would be: Strong, protective, warm-hearted (even when he’s being a jerk) it was through this growth I began to finally love him. To see how others could love him even when his past tells him he wasn’t worthy of love.
The Thesians on the other hand are very militant as well, however, order is not a primary for them. It’s just whoever is strong enough to get to the top. Because they were created out of reaction, they have to real society or order (at least not for a while) because Thesia just wanted them to kill the Aristans. She didn’t really have a plan for their existence. This background contributes to Thesians being seen as mindless meatheads that only do what they are told. This doesn’t make them ‘evil’ and the Aristans ‘good’. That wasn’t my intention. I wanted both races to be flawed and have their good points and their bad points. I wanted them to have humanity and what’s humanity without flaws?
In this first book I wanted to prove that by making the main antagonist an Aristan, not a Thesian. Though it’s hard not to lean towards the Aristans because my hero is Aristan. Will there be Thesian heroes? You bet! I have many books up my sleeve for this world.
My easiest way to separate the differences between the Aristans and the Thesians is this: Aristans are built for speed. Thesians are built for comfort.
Everything about the Aristans screams fast, graceful, deadly, from their speed bikes to their old-school sword wielding. They are hot, fast and beautiful. Thesians are thick, tall and impulsive. They act first and ask questions later—just like the Goddess who made them. A lot of their ‘bumbling’ and confusion comes from the fact that for thousands of years their race has been ‘lost’. With no clear understanding why they were there and what they were to do – they became obsessed with destroying their kin, the Aristans. This lack of brotherhood and sense of belonging gets better through the years, but they are still lost. Pretty sad, if you ask me.
Now that I had created the perfect back story, perfect villains and perfect hero---I had to build up a great heroine for my Aidan. Not just any old gal would do! Alyssa became Maddie- A pudgy, but beautiful Veterinarian of late 20’s-early 30’s I wanted her to just be in the middle of making a new start for herself when she meets Aidan. A woman embracing her independence and finding herself just before Aidan comes into her life. Now in hindsight, this feels familiar to me, as my life gently reflects this. Before I met the man of my dreams, I was happy by myself. I had moved into my own place, own life, own freedom. I embraced it and was so content when I met him. The timing was perfect.
I knew Aidan would have a rough heart, so I didn’t want Maddie to be too rough. I didn’t want her to be too difficult; because I didn’t want her to fight to keep him out of her life…I wanted her to fight to keep him in! Maddie is proud and stubborn, but not too stubborn to forget a man like Aidan. Deep down I think she knows he’s the real deal and he’s worth it.
So there you have it, an intro behind the novel of infamy. Me being a fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon, I totally respect humor and sexy fighting men. They had to be the center of my world, just as she has with her Dark Hunters. One thing is for certain; these characters will keep me going for a long time!