Please welcome Shelly Holt today!  She's talking about her new book Tasting Fire and the inspiration behind it!

Tasting Fire
Shelly Holt

Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. Kai leaves his small village where the mountains touch the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.

What spurred the idea?
Shelly Holt

After writing a childrens book and several short stories that did not sell, I did a great deal of research on what genres were actually selling well as e-books.  I decided that I would have a much better chance of success with a romance novel.  I was never much for historical romances myself and out of all the new romance genres that had emerged, my writing style would fit well with a paranormal romance.  I knew that to compete in a market that was saturated with shape-shifters, I would have to do something completely different.  I had already decided that I would not use magic in my world building, I felt as a writer I would be forced to develop a much stronger plot and place much more emphasis on character development if I put limits on myself as to how I could explain the presence of shape-shifters in the world.

I created a scenario in which shape-shifters evolved over thousands of years by merging the DNA of humans and a variety of animals by means of a bacterial infection.  The source was hot springs all over the world.  The hot springs contained a rare little bacteria that if it is imbibed by somebody with just the right RNA receptors and then within a short time frame they come into contact with a secondary DNA code then boom! you have the beginning of a race of shape-shifters.

Dr. Rae Hales, my heroine realizes during her research that if one is real, doesn't that mean they could all be real?  How else do you explain thousand of different legends of shape-shifters that arose from different cultures, sometimes on completely different continents.

I decided I wanted to start the series with a sexy, strong predator that hadn't really been done too much before.  There were tons of books about wolves, tigers, jaguars ect... but there really hadn't been a lot done on snow leopards.  I did research on the natural habitat and then from there, I researched folklore and myth on the different cultures of the Himalayas.  I first created the character of Kai Tenzin and then his romantic paramour Dr. Rae Hales.  I decided that I wanted each of their names to be the equal amount of letters to balance it out, Kai = Rae.  I also wanted them to come from opposite backgrounds as well, Kai came from wealth and a strong cultural background.  He had a strong father figure growing up, but no mother.  Rae was from a very deprived background, her mother fled an abusive home and had to work as a stripper in Las Vegas to feed her daughter.  Rae grew up never knowing her father.

The book also has strong spiritual overtones, and secondary plots regarding personal growth which are somewhat unusual for a romance novel.  All of these well designed aspects of the story make for an unusually strong paranormal romance.


The short ride to Kizhi island was exhilarating on the open hydrofoil.  Kai helped Rae off the boat as it docked at the seven mile long island.  The tour group followed their guide off the dock and onto the island.  They listened intently as the guide in stilted English advised them that the site had become a  world heritage site in nineteen-ninety.  There were more than eighty pieces of wooden architecture that made up the outdoor museum’s collection.  The guide then gestured for the large group to follow him.  The tour group was led up to a magnificent structure.  The center piece of the collection that was known as The Church of Transfiguration.  

Rae felt as if she had stepped right into a storybook.  The guide started his official recitation on the history of the structure “the Church of Transfiguration has twenty two onion domes.  It was built during the reign of Peter the Great.  No nails were used in the construction and it was created by using interconnecting wood pieces only.”  Kai stood back taking picture after picture of the breathtaking silver domes.  The guide then indicated for them to enter and put his finger over his mouth to indicate silence.

As Kai and Rae walked in they could hear why the guide silenced them.  A trio of singers were performing a deeply moving mass.  Behind them a gold leaf Russian icon painting glinted in the light that was streaming in through the dusty windows.  The effect transported the tour group back in time.  They were now in a time before digital cameras, before cell phones, to a time when the Tzars ruled Imperial Russia with an iron fist. 


Shelly is giving away a $20.00 Starbucks Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  Follow the tour!  The more you comment, the more you win!  Complete dates can be found here.

About the Author:

My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on.

It's funny, I never wanted to be a writer!  In 7th grade English, we were given an assignment.  We were told to write an original poem and turn it in the next day.  I was determined to turn in not a good poem, but a great poem.  I spent the whole night working on it instead of watching my favorite show, The Waltons.  (Hey! it was 1980.)  I turned it in the next day.  Apparently, I succeeded a little too well and was accused of copying it from a book. (1980 remember, no internet yet).  The teacher stated and I quote "this is too good for a seventh grader, where did you copy it from?"  Well, I didn't write for 30 years after that. In my 40's, after a life changing move to rural Nevada as a caregiver to my father, I realized I needed a way to earn a little money on the side.  I did some research on the internet and read all about a certain little book, about a certain little college student and a handsome billionaire with some ahem! (issues.)  I decided after reading that book, I could do that, and Tasting Fire was born. I'll admit it's been strange revisiting a talent buried deep inside for so long, forgotten, but apparently not lost. It's been an important journey and one I am quite thankful for and excited to see where it takes me.

Shelly Holt

 P.S. Mr. Jordan, I really did write that poem!

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