When Leah’s inability to control her new-found skill nearly sends her into a full blown shifter-tantrum in front of the entire high school, even she has to admit that the last week of school is no place for a new shape-shifter.
Keeping her new, unpredictable shape-shifting skills a secret is paramount, so Leah agrees to spend her summer vacation with her eccentric Aunt Cecelia, a fellow shifter who lives in the deserts outside Tubac, Arizona. Begrudgingly at first, Leah learns what it means to be a shifter, discovering that, in nature, her kind is not as rare as she first thought. While coming to terms with her new identity and learning to control her skills, she meets the son of her Aunt Cecelia’s life-long friends. But Drake King is different from other boys, and not just because he is a shifter. When cornered by a pack of wild dogs one night in the unfamiliar desert, Drake reveals an additional, extraordinary gift that saves Leah’s life.
Amidst rumors of rogue shifters who have broken their oath and revealed themselves to the public—threatening the tenuous new life Leah has just begun to love—she and Drake embark upon a journey that will redefine them as individuals and forever solidify them as a pair.
Elle wrote her first novel at the age of 16. Then she wrote a sequel. More than ten years later, those first manuscripts have been re-written and are accompanied by many companions. An indie author with imagination and heart, Elle writes smart, compelling Young Adult and New Adult contemporary fantasies that feature strong female leads and real relationships.
What will readers like about your book?
I hope readers will connect with Leah--she is a regular person with emotions, some of which are less-than-flattering, like everyone else. But she is also kind, curious and quirky. If the reader connects with her, I think they'll enjoy being inside her head.
Readers who enjoy lighter fare will like the overall optimistic theme of SHIFT, while readers who prefer heavier content will appreciate the underlying darker current just under the surface of this plot and the foreshadowing to heavier issues that occur in future books.
Why did you self publish?
I was introduced to self-publishing a few years ago, but the industry and market wasn't ready yet. Now, with the wide acceptance of e-format, e-readers, etc, I feel like the market is ready to accept self-published authors. And, moreover, I think that the casual reader has become more savvy and is looking for intelligent fiction that might have slipped under the radar of the traditional publishing industry (much the same way that more and more music-lovers are turning to indie-artists.) The publishing industry is changing so dramatically and so quickly now that I'm not entirely sure I would still want that legacy deal I'd dreamed about (and come so close to having) for so long. While I'm working harder to get my name and my work into the hands of readers, I've gained full creative control of my work and my brand in return through self-publishing. It's a fair trade, in my opinion, and one that I believe more and more authors will begin to make.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is incredibly variable--I give my writing and my projects the kind of attention they need when they need it; this mean that sometimes I pour over the computer for hours, hammering something out, while other times, I walk away and don't touch something for a couple of days. One thing I do consistently is what I call "letting things percolate." (I'm from Seattle, so count on me to make a coffee-related analogy.) When I get a new idea, I let it rattle around in my brain for a while. I let it steep. (More hot beverage references!) It takes on three dimensions and depth in that time, and usually, I unknowingly develop the skeleton of the story while the idea sits in my brain without my paying very much attention to it. The next step is driving--I think very clearly while I drive and listen to music. Ideas often come to me while I'm sitting in traffic. In fact, now that I commute less, I find that it takes me longer to get through this stage. Once things have percolated and I've driven them straight, I start outlining and writing.
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
If I'm writing full-time (i.e. I'm not gainfully employed elsewhere) it takes me about 4 weeks to write a first draft and to read-and-revise once on my own. Then I hand it off to my beta-reader #1 (EverCritic--checkout her blog: http://evercritic.tumblr.com) who reads for story holes, clunky sentences and anything that doesn't make sense. I take her edits and move onto the second draft from there.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
SHIFT came to me in a unique way. It felt like I'd been reading and seeing a lot of animal-shifters--werewolves, mainly--and every time someone referred to a werewolf as a shapeshifter, something would catch in my brain (the way a breath can catch in your throat, but with a thought.) That idea of shapeshifters sent my brain into the percolation phase without me even realizing it. Before I knew it, I was thinking and driving, and then one night, I outlined the whole thing. Three weeks later, the first draft was written.
It was almost cold outside. The desert looked blue and purple in the darkness.
“So how long have you been at this shifting thing?” Drake asked, his hands in his pockets while he kicked at the rocks on the ground.
“A few weeks,” I replied. “Cecelia said that both of your parents are shifters too?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, keeping his attention on the ground.
“That has to make it easier,” I said, a little jealous.
“Not necessarily,” he replied. “So did you freak out? When you found out, I mean.”
“No,” I shook my head, then remembered .... “Well, not at first.”
He scaled a big, round rock, at least six feet tall, and sat on the top of it. Then he leaned over the edge and outstretched his hand to help me up. I took it, the comforting warmth making my breath catch again, and he pulled me up.
“Everyone freaks out at some point,” he said, staring at me as I took my seat before taking his hand from mine.
“So, did you just know, all along, then? Since your parents can do it too…”
He laughed darkly under his breath and lay back onto the wide rock face with his hands behind his head. He was so comfortable and confident. It made me at ease to be with him.
“No,” he said. “They couldn’t tell me right away. They had to be sure I was old enough to keep the secret. Not that anyone would believe us if we told them. It’s showing them that’s the worry.”
“So they waited ‘til you were 17, too?” It seemed silly to wait that long, when it was so certain that he’d be one of us.
There was that dark chuckle again. “No. I don’t know when they were planning to tell me…”
“What happened?” I turned around and sat on my knees, facing him. His tone told me there was a story here. Possibly an entertaining one.
He looked at me, the darkness casting mysterious shadows over his tan skin. “I walked in on my Dad with another woman.”
I felt my eyes grow wide.
“But it wasn’t another woman, naturally,” he laughed quietly.
“Oh my god,” I couldn’t help but laugh in astonishment. That was so entirely not what I was expecting him to say, though I couldn’t tell you what I was expecting, either. “I think I might have died!”
“It was a weird day, for sure.”