Author Spotlight: N.J. Walters
October of 2023, I’ll have been a published author for nineteen years, but I find I’m still learning with every book I write. The process never fails to surprise me. The goal is to continually improve and become a better storyteller. Every writer’s process is unique to them. The trick is to find what works and allow it to grow and change over time. The past few years I’ve slowed down as a writer and have had to learn to be okay with that. The more I’m able to relax, the more I’m able to allow the stories to flow.
I’m what’s known as a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants. I learned early on in my career that if I tried to plot the book, I lost interest in finishing it and the characters stopped speaking to me. That may sound strange to most people, but for me, it’s always been a process of sitting at the keyboard and taking dictation. The characters tell me their stories.
The characters always come first. It can be a name, or I may get a picture of them, a sense of who they are. Oddly enough, the hero almost always shows up first. My goal is to get an outline of who he is, what he looks like, what his secrets are, his emotional hangups, and what his role is in the conflict. The heroine comes next. After all, if she’s going to handle the hero, she needs to be a strong woman. I flesh out the basics but don’t come close to knowing everything about them. I learn about them as they tell me their story. I can’t tell you how many times characters have surprised me.
Lone Wolf Legacy trilogy
For my new Lone Wolf Legacy trilogy, the idea of the legend of the lone wolf came to me first:
Since the rise of the werewolf, there has always existed a single lone wolf—with pure white, gray, or black fur and eyes that match—who answers to no alpha, belongs to no pack. Merciless and deadly, he wanders the world, both judge and executioner of rogue wolves who senselessly kill, endangering all their kind.
When one dies, another takes its place, awakening to his purpose the first time he shifts to his wolf form. Known by the sign of the lone wolf—a sickle over the heart—the short-handled, circular blade remains as a tattoo on the man and as a mark on the wolf. A lethal combination of intelligence, brutal strength, and keen instinct, he walks a lonely path, shunned by pack, always alone.
Gift or curse, he is endowed with immortality and can be killed only by beheading, either during battle or by stealth or betrayal. Some say worn down by responsibilities, they eventually choose to die. Some whisper only love can kill them. The truth remains a mystery.
For the first time, there are three in the world—white, gray, and black—who all bear the mark on their chests. No one knows why, least of all them…
Many readers ask where ideas come from. My answer is always the same—everywhere. I’ve gotten ideas from snippets of overheard conversation, from nonfiction books, song lyrics, magazine articles, and even an online quiz. (The Hades Carnival series was born after I did a fun-only quiz—What carnival ride would you be?—and I got a carousel.) Then there are the series like the Lone Wolf Legacy where the idea seems to come out of the ether. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten random ideas while in the bathtub, just before falling asleep, or while riding on the bus. (It’s usually times when I’m relaxed, and my mind is drifting and open.) The goal then is to get the idea down as fast as possible before it disappears. Sometimes it is a single line of dialogue or an image, but it starts my mind mulling over the possibilities.
I met the hero of Taming the White Wolf, Devlin Moore, first. The vivid image of a stormy night high on a hilltop deep in the woods with a white wolf standing over the body of a rogue wolf he’d taken down was one that left a lasting impression. With his unusual appearance and deadly demeanor, he sprang to life. Then came Zoe Galvani, a single woman with no family and one not-so-good friend, living and working in New York City. In their own way, they’re both loners.
Once I get basic character sketches, I have to wait for the first scene to come to me. There’s no starting until I have the locked down. As soon as that is set in my mind, I sit at the keyboard and start writing. I have no idea where the book is going to go, other than it has to end on a happily ever after, or at least a happy for now. For this book, I knew there would be an overarching conflict for the trilogy, as well as the individual issues Devlin and Zoe would face and have to overcome.
Often when I’m writing, I’ll get ideas for possible scenes. I’ll type them in at the bottom of the document to reference later. Sometimes I use them, sometimes the characters take me in an entirely different direction. It’s always an adventure.
Experience has taught me to trust the writing process, but even after all the books I’ve written, it’s not always easy. Inevitably, things tie together—often without me having any idea when I write something at the beginning of a book that it will play a role in the later stages. Some authors fear the blank page, the start of a new book. I love it. Some have a difficult time with the ending. I tend to rush it and have to fix it in rewrites. Where I always seem to bog down is the middle. I inevitably wonder if I’ll make it to the end, and somehow, I always do. Taming the White Wolf was no different. I had days when the writing flowed and others where the characters simply weren’t speaking. Those are the days you have to learn to walk away and try again the next day.
Some authors write a page or two a day while others write dozens. My brain seems to work in chapters. On a good day, I’ll write an entire one. On a not-so-good day, I’ll get a half of one. Then there are days I get nothing at all. I’m not one of those writers who works seven days a week. I decided early in my career that it wasn’t sustainable. I love writing, but if I push, I’ll burn myself out. I’ve come close. A couple of years ago, I was as close to burnout as I’ve ever been. Pulling back and writing less has allowed me to keep going, but somedays that’s almost too much. Those are the days I step away and let myself just be. It’s one of those professions that can take over a life if you’re not careful. As I plan to continue writing for many years to come, I’m working through it as best as I can.
In the meantime, I continue to write the stories the characters whisper to me, loving that they trust me with their tales. It truly is a privilege and an honor to get to do what I do. I love writing. It’s challenging, to say the least, especially for someone as technically challenged as me, but I love it.
The white, gray, and black lone wolves have left their marks on me. I cherish that they trusted me with their stories. I’m looking forward to the next trilogy I’m hoping to share with readers. There are three brothers… But that’s a story for another day.
Taming the White Wolf
Lone Wolf Legacy, Book 1
The lone wolf answers to no alpha or pack. From his first transformation, he knows his destiny: to be both judge and executioner for rogue werewolves. Welcome to the spellbinding first book in New York Times bestselling author N.J. Walters intense new werewolf series.
White wolf Devlin Moore has spent nearly the last century following his destiny: hunting rogue werewolves. His fate is to be the only one of his kind—hardened, feared, and brutally ruthless. Only now, Devlin’s not alone. There are two others. And if that wasn’t unsettling enough, Devlin is drawn to New York City for what appears to be a human…
As far as Devlin can tell, vibrant artist Zoe Galvani is no threat. But there’s something about her— from her unusual eyes that look similar to the same shocking hue as his own, to his growing need to mark her as his that suggests magical forces may be at play.
Now there’s no escaping each other, or the attraction that grows stronger by the second. But no one, especially a human woman, should have this effect on a lone wolf. And just when he’s sure that having her could be his undoing…the truth steps out of the shadows.
Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/books/taming-the-white-wolf
About the author
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
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Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor