Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shelley Munro - Featured Author

From the moment I saw an article in the New Zealand Herald about sightings of a mystery black cat in Canterbury, South Island, I knew it would make a good story. I cut out the article and kept it for about three years while I wrote about other things such as talking dogs, aliens and military men. It wasn’t until I saw a human interest story on our local television about a small South Island town called Middlemarch that I recalled the cat article. Evidently, the town of Middlemarch had a severe shortage of females and to help the young farmers and other men in the area find partners, the town intended to organize a dance.

The two ideas blended inside my head and a story idea bloomed about a community of leopard shifters who lived in Middlemarch and suffered from a shortage of women of marriageable age.

The first book in the series, Scarlet Woman, was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. It started life as a short story. My editor liked it but thought there was too much story for the length I’d written. She suggested that I lengthen it, which I did, although my characters kicked up a fuss. So did my muse. I’m pleased I persevered because it’s now one of my favorite stories.
This week I finished writing the seventh book in my Middlemarch Mates series. I’m not sure why I enjoy writing about feline shifters so much. Maybe it’s because my husband isn’t a cat fan and we have a dog instead. My cat of choice is the black leopard, although I have introduced a brother and sister in Stray Cat Strut who are lion shifters.

Here are a few leopard facts:

Leopards are the most widespread of all big cats.
They are also the most secretive.
They live in different habitats ranging from rocky country to savannah lands and forests.
Leopards are nocturnal and hunt at night.
They usually sleep all day in a tree.
Their spotted coat is excellent camouflage in the patchwork of light and shade in the forest.
A leopard’s spots are actually small rosettes.
Leopards are loners and only come together to mate.
The mother brings up the cubs until they can fend for themselves.
They are built for bursts of speed and for climbing trees.
They have strong jaws, chests and front legs and can move an animal as big as themselves.
Leopards like to ambush their prey, waiting in a tree for an animal to walk underneath.
Leopards drag their meals up into trees to keep it safe.
Black leopards are often called panthers. They are the same species, but their spots are hidden. They are more common in Asia.

In my Middlemarch series, I’ve taken some of the above facts to use in my stories and also given my own personal twist. Middlemarch leopards mate for life and they are a close knit community. They’re alpha characters but are putty in the hands of the right woman. The first three stories are currently available from Ellora’s Cave with the fourth story, Assassin due out on 6 August.

Cat and Mouse, the fifth story is due out in October 2008. To read excerpts, visit my website at and to learn about the real town of Middlemarch, where the dance takes place on a yearly basis because the first was so successful go here.


Shelley Munro said...

Hi Tracey! Thanks for having me over to visit. :)

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thanks for being here, Shelley:)