Behind the Scenes: the Psy/Changeling Series
(Updated May 2015)
This is the page where we’ll be adding behind-the-scenes material on the Psy/Changeling series. I decided to separate it out as there are possible *spoilers* in there. If you’d like a particular question answered, drop me an email. I’ll try to get to all questions that come in (depending on deadlines)!
There is a slight difference between the published order and the chronological order of the stories in the series when it comes to the novellas. I tend to write my novellas about secondary characters who were introduced in previous books – and quite often, this leads to the novella being set back in time.
These novellas are all written to stand alone, but for those of you who like to read in strict chronological order, here it is:
1. “Beat of Temptation” in Wild Invitation
2. “Whisper of Sin” in Burning Up
3. Slave to Sensation
4. “The Shower” – deleted scene
5 “The Cannibal Princess” – free short story
6. Visions of Heat
7. Caressed By Ice
8. “Miss Leozandra’s” – deleted scene
9. “Stroke of Enticement” in Wild Invitation
10. Mine to Possess
11. “A Conversation” – free short story
12. Hostage to Pleasure
13. “A Gift for Kit” – free short story
14. “Movie Night” – free short story
15. Branded By Fire
16.“The Party” (deleted scene from Branded By Fire)
17. Blaze of Memory
18. “Christmas in the Kitchen” – free short story
19. Bonds of Justice
20. Play of Passion
21.“Wolf School” (deleted scene from Play of Passion)
22. “Clean and Dirty” – free short story
23. “Declaration of Courtship” in Wild Invitation
24. “Home” (newsletter short story)
25. Kiss of Snow
26. “Naya’s Most Important Visitors”* (newsletter short story)
27. “Grocery Shopping”* (newsletter short story)
28. “Stalking Hawke” – free short story
29. “Texture of Intimacy” in Wild Invitation
30. “Pancakes”* (newsletter short story)
31. Tangle of Need
32. “Dancing with Cooper”* (newsletter short story)
33. “Poker Night”* (newsletter short story)
34. Heart of Obsidian
35. “Sunday Morning”* (newsletter short story)
36. “Secrets at Midnight“ in Night Shift
37. “Making Dinner”* (newsletter short story)
38. “Hide and Seek”* (newsletter short story)
39. “New Year’s Kisses” (newsletter short story)
40. Shield of Winter (June 2014)
41. Shards of Hope (June 2015)
42. Untitled novel (2016)
*Missed a newsletter short story? Join the newsletter mailing list through the Contact page – you’ll be able to access all the back issues with short stories through the Welcome newsletter, and get new short stories directly in your inbox. If you have any problems, email Ashwini.
Behind the Scenes
I’ve always been fascinated by psychic powers, by the idea that we might have unawakened abilities inside of us. Experiments have shown that humans use only a tiny percentage of their brains.
But what if we were suddenly able to access that unused remainder–isn’t it possible that abilities now considered paranormal might then become run of the mill?
As a child I simply thought it would be really awesome to be able to read other people’s minds. However, as I grew older, the ethical considerations began to loom large. Then I began thinking that maybe I didn’t want to be reading everyone’s minds. But what if real telepaths had no control over their abilities? What if they couldn’t stop?
Then one day in February 2005, it was as if my various thoughts about psychic powers had spent enough time mixing. The idea that came to me was full-blown. And it was deceptively simple: What if the flip side of incredible psychic power was insanity of the worst kind, the kind that drove you to murder? What would you do to survive?
That nightmare question was the beginning of Slave to Sensation. I was so compelled by it that I wrote the complete first draft in three weeks. With each page I wrote, the question became ever more complex, because these people were not just their abilities–they were sentient beings. And they were in an untenable situation.
I’ll probably write more on this later, but for now, I’ll leave you with this question: Would you choose Silence if you were part of the PsyNet?
Fact 1: Panthers are not a species but rather leopards (among others) who have the genes for dark pigmentation. If you look closely at the fur of a panther, you can see the characteristic leopard rosettes below it.
Fact 2: Leopards don’t like water but are good swimmers. Jaguars by contrast like the water, even to the extent of living by rivers.
Fact 3: There is some controversy over whether big cats do or don’t purr. After listening to the experts and reading a ton of research material, I decided to take artistic license and go with purring. After all, changelings aren’t exactly like their wild counterparts. They’re human and animal in one. And humans can purr if you stroke them just right *grin*[Edited to Add] A reader emailed me to say that she had indeed heard big cats purr, so there you go!
Fact 4: The VIP Folder, a.k.a. the Series Bible, refers to the folder I have full of stuff about the Psy/Changeling series. I need this because my world has certain rules that have to be followed, as well as a large cast of characters I need to get right. I didn’t realize this when I wrote Slave to Sensation, but when I began Visions of Heat, it became obvious. I kept having to flick through StS to check things.
At the simplest level, the bible involves keeping physical descriptions of the characters. I need to know who has what color hair and eyes, their height and any defining characteristics – for example, Lucas’s facial markings. (Not that I would ever forget those!)
This stops me making goofs or helps me pick them up when I do. For example in Slave to Sensation, Rina’s hair color changed from blonde to brunette, a mistake I picked up during one of the final edits.
However that’s not all I have. I have tree diagrams that show the links between characters, both in terms of blood or in terms of Pack/the PsyNet. And, because timing is important in my world, I also have a timeline with people’s birthdates and other major events. Events change characters and I need to remember each event, each shift, each point of growth.
All this sounds very organized and technical, and to some extent, it is. I need the information easily accessible and simple. But I don’t write the book constantly referring to it. I tend to write my drafts fairly loosely in terms of internal consistency, checking only major factors that might affect the plot. It’s during the later edits that I go through and make sure the tiny details are right.
The bible is by no means complete, it’s a work in progress – for example, when I write Hawke’s story, I’m going to have to go through every book before his and note the passages where he’s mentioned, because he’s such a strong presence throughout the series – but it’s very, very useful. I would recommend doing the extra work to any author writing a series. It will save you time a thousand times over. You might still make mistakes (we’re only human after all) but a comprehensive bible helps lower the chances of that happening.
Research Facts Part II
Readers often ask me what kind of research I do. I thought it might be fun to share a few pieces of the research I did for Stroke of Enticement, my novella in “The Magical Christmas Cat” because I ended up with some fun questions to answer.
Because SoE is a novella, it didn’t require much research in comparison to a full-length book, but it’s funny the things that come up. Here are some things I had to check before the final draft.
Q: What is a male swan called?
A: A cob. I actually didn’t end up using this info, but it’s gone into the research file (a.k.a. my brain) for later retrieval.
Q: What do you call a male deer?
A: Buck, bull or stag. Now you know.
Q: I know there are giant boulders in Yosemite. I saw them. But how did they get there (I didn’t need this info, but I just found it interesting.)
A: These are called “glacial erratic boulders” and as the name suggests, they were carried to their location by slow moving glaciers.
Little questions like this come up all the time in manuscripts. Thank goodness for the Internet, libraries and the beautiful, wonderful people who answer my questions – sometimes when they don’t know me at all!
1. As requested by some of you, here is a list of commonly used Psy designations. (These are by no means all-inclusive.)
Tk – Telekinesis (some are teleportation-capable, others are not)
Subdesignations mentioned in the series to date:
Tk-Cell: A Tk-Cell has the ability to move things at the cellular level. Some are capable of doing this to their own bodies.
Tk-V: Also known as “Travelers” these Psy are true teleporters and can go from location to location in the blink of an eye. Travelers are extremely, extremely rare.
Tp – Telepathy
Telepaths are broken up into many sub-designations. Pure Tp-Psy exist at the top end of the spectrum – they can literally send and receive across the world, with a clarity that makes it seem as if they’re standing in the next room. Pure telepaths of that level of power are rare and usually work for the Council.
M – Medical
M-Psy have different specializations. The most well-known of their abilities is the power to see inside a body and diagnose illness. Some M-Psy at the far end of the scale have the capacity to see down to the DNA level.
An unknown fraction of M-Psy can actually heal, but that healing appears to be limited to low-level injuries (broken bones, cuts etc).
F – Foresight
A variation of Foresight, that still falls within the F-designation, is Backsight – the ability to see the past.
Ps – Psychometry
In basic terms, those born with Ps abilities can gain information by touching objects. Ps-Psy will be discussed more in depth later on in the series.
X – Possibly from Exardesco (f .Latin, ‘to blaze up’): X-Psy have the ability to produce cold-fire/X-fire, which can burn things to ash within microseconds.
The power has the capacity to build until it reaches synergy. This is a very rare designation as most X-Psy do not survive into adulthood.
Also mentioned – further information to come in future books:
- The ability to create illusions.
- The ability to give someone an “electric shock.”
(Neither of the latter two have yet been named in the books.)
2. Is the series open ended or do you have a certain number of books planned?
As of Tangle of Need I see approx 2-4 more books until the end of this story arc. So if you’re reading for that arc, you will get a satisfying conclusion.
After that, I’d like to explore aspects of the world and its characters that we haven’t seen as much to date. The world is so vibrant and alive, that so long as there are stories to tell within it, I’ll happily continue to write them.
3. With Psy/Changeling or Human/Changeling couples, are the offspring always changeling? Or are there exceptions?
Since exceptions to the rule have a way of springing up without warning, I won’t say “all” but in the vast, vast majority of cases, a child with a changeling parent will have the ability to shift. This doesn’t mean they are fully changeling – their blood is mixed, which leads to all sorts of interesting things.
4. What would a Psy/Human couple have little humans or little psy?
Since the Psy, Changelings and Humans are capable of mating and producing children, it’s genetically impossible for a child to be either/or. He or she will be both, though some genes may be dominant, others recessive.
5. Is the idea of skin privileges formal – i.e. are there rules?
No, it is a very private thing. However, there are certain assumptions – ie. that lovers, pack members and mates will have it. However, even then, changelings are careful to listen to body language and find out whether that assumption holds true in their case. Because touch is such an intimate thing, it depends on each individual as to what level and to whom, they will accede the right to skin privileges.
6. Will Kit get his own story?
I adore Kit but he’s a bit young yet. That’s not to say I don’t have a story in mind for him. I do. First though, he’s got to grow into his own skin a little more, learn who he is.
7. Have we seen all the Psy designations?
No. There are other designations that I haven’t yet mentioned, simply because those designations haven’t played a part in the stories to date.
8. Are there any extra bits you can put up from Nate and Tammy’s story in the Enchanted Season anthology?
These are now up on the Deleted Scenes page.
9. Why isn’t Judd Lauren linked psychically to the SnowDancers, as Sascha and Faith are to the Web of Stars?
This question is answered in Kiss of Snow.
10. How much time has passed in the series?
As of the start of Shards of Hope, approximately three years and four months (from the start of Slave to Sensation).
11. How long do the races in the Psy/Changeling world live?
The races age normally, however, given that the series is set in the future, and taking into account all the advances in science and medicine, they live to around 130 years of age, and they’re extremely healthy for close to the entirety of that time.
The offical Psy/Changeling character list is complete in draft form and will be finalized as soon as I have a chance to go through it once more. Until then, check out this character guide created by a fan: Wicked Scribes Psy/Changeling Character list.
I’m delighted to announce that a reader of the series has set up a Fan Forum where you can talk about my books.
Shards of Hope
Links to some great videos readers have made about the Psy/Changeling series, both in English and in German! (The links will take you to the videos on YouTube).