Please help me welcome David J. O’Brien to my blog today. He talks about the inspiration behind his new release, Leading the Pack, the second book in his Silver Nights trilogy.
Leading the Pack by David J. O’Brien
Alphas aren’t elected; they’re self-selected.
Life has been good since Paul McHew left his werewolf pack twenty years ago and married Susan. Patrick is the eldest of their four children and feels the pull of the full moon earlier than his father had.
Patrick itches for the city, but things have changed since his father’s time. The economy is booming and everyone has a smart phone. But in a post 9-11 world, where security cameras abound, everyone is being watched.
Patrick must make the city streets his own as the eldest of a new generation. To do that, he must learn to control his own impulses, and those of his pack mates, if he hopes to become their leader.
Encountering a potential mate and facing a definite rival, can Patrick be the alpha everyone expects him to be?
10% of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund and to Survival International.
The man lifted himself up and held the limp animal by the ears. He exposed the throat. With his two left canines he ripped a hole through the soft skin. Blood started to drip. He put the opening to his mouth and sucked up the flowing liquid. Then he lifted the body up over his head and raised his mouth to drink it all, taking the legs between his fingers and pulling, to push the blood through the limbs and torso.
When the corpse ceased dripping, he put his fingers through the hole and ripped off the head, tossing it aside. Then he pulled the skin back off the muscles in one piece. The animal skinned, he bit into the muscular back legs and tore off strips of raw meat. Barely chewing, he swallowed hard on the flesh and walked through the paddock under the moonlight.
He caught the scent of the cattle and deer on the wind and, coming from the other side of a hill, heard the neigh of a horse, then a long, drawn out howl. He grinned to himself. The blood still on his lips dripped to his chin.
The animal consumed and his stomach filled, the man wondered what to do now that particular desire had been satiated.
A voice whispered to him.
He’d been told the voice would come. He’d been instructed to ignore it—it was just in his head. He was curious, though. The voice had a soft tone; seductive and conspiratorial. It was his friend—at least that’s what it sounded like. The voice told him that the people in the big house he could see half a mile off, a pale sentinel in the moonlight over the fields, were all against him. He should stop listening to them. They were only trying to control him because they feared his power, his ability. He was a hunter, a wolf. The voice said he didn’t need them or anyone to take down a deer—or a bull, if he wanted to. And he didn’t need to obey their rules. They were merely jealous of his prowess.
He looked at the house. No doubt those inside watched his every move through the meadows. His bedroom was in there, at the extreme end of the right wing. It had been easy to leap down from the second floor. He could climb back up there, too, quite easily. But the voice was right. Why would he want to do that? Just because the other inhabitants said that was best?
He turned his back on the big house. What was it, really, but a prison? Yes, it was his home. The only home he’d ever known. Yet tonight it felt like a prison: one that had held him for too long. It would hold him no longer. Not for this night. Tonight he would run. The voice was right; he could escape.
Energy surged through him. He ran. Through the trees, faster and faster, dodging trunks, leaping over deadfall. Deer skittered ahead of him through the dappled silver. He suddenly came to a wall and stopped. It was a very high wall—probably twice his height.
The ground sloped down toward it, making it higher still at its base.
The city lay beyond the wall. Running a few miles more would take him there.
He imagined the city, the streets, before him. He could sprint though them, seek more seductive objectives; find more exciting pursuits than hunting and killing hares and deer.
He could make it. He could leap onto the wall.
He stepped back and took a run. Jumping from a few feet out, he hit the smooth stone with one foot, bounced off that and stretched his hand out. Grabbing the top edge, he easily pulled himself up. He stood on the wall, grinning triumphantly. He was free. He’d escaped the prison that sought to encircle him, to bind his life inside.
He readied himself to drop onto the narrow road running along the outside of the wall, then looked back, as if to say goodbye. As he turned, however, he noticed another figure standing on the wall, not ten feet away.
“Get down from the wall, Patrick,” the other man said.
A thought flashed through Patrick’s mind—that he could attack. He instantly rose up on the balls of his feet and tensed his muscles. He could pounce, like he’d pounced on the hare. Two quick steps along the top of the wall, a powerful leap through the air with a twist, and he’d land his feet on the other man’s chest: kick him clean off the wall.
The voice in his brain told him to go ahead.
But the thought disappeared just as quickly. He had no real fear of the man, but he did have knowledge of his ability; his fitness, his prowess. He was not big. He was, on the contrary, deceptively small. The body contained a power difficult to comprehend. This man would react faster than the hare had. And he was ready for Patrick, prepared for an attack. Though older—more than twice Patrick’s age—he was yet in his prime. He had leapt onto the wall just as easily as Patrick had himself; more so, since he’d not made a sound. The fight that would ensue from any aggression would leave both of them badly injured, and Patrick perhaps maimed.
“Which side?” Patrick asked.
“Whichever you want. If you get down on the same side you got up, you can walk back to the house. If you get down on the other side, I’ll have to carry you. You’ll have two broken legs. And you won’t be out catching rabbits tomorrow night.”
His tone was not angry, nor even very menacing. But the matter-of-factness chilled Patrick even more than an overt threat. Or fury.
Patrick knew he could not fight the older man. However, he could, perhaps, run. Maybe he could outpace him, flee to the city.
But the other man would catch him. Before Patrick had gone a mile, he’d have reached him, and he’d drag Patrick back. And yes, he’d have broken legs when they arrived.
Patrick heard a woman’s voice, then. Hearing it made his mind up for him. “Don’t hurt him, Paul,” it said.
The woman who spoke knew the threat the other man, Paul, held.
Patrick stood down from the balls of his feet, relaxed his muscles and bowed his head in defeat. “Okay, Dad.” He nodded, then stepped off the wall and lightly dropped to the grass beneath.
The woman stood off under the trees. Patrick could just see her in the shadow, her long hair and full figure. Her hands rested on her hips, as if cross; unwilling to put up with this behaviour.
She had positioned herself far enough away that she’d be out of view of any fight, but easily within earshot in the calm, quiet night. She also didn’t want to see Patrick’s naked form, he assumed. He didn’t want her to see, either. There was a time when he’d been perfectly comfortable with her seeing him naked, the same as he’d seen her.
It still felt natural to be naked. Just not within her view.
“Run up to the house now, and have a drink, Patrick,” she said. “There’s a pitcher of beer on the porch.”
Patrick nodded. “Thanks, Mum.” He started jogging off under the trees.
“There’s a pair of shorts there, too, if you want to put them on,” she called after him.
He halted. “Why?” His father was as naked as he.
“Practice, Patrick; practice.”
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Guest post by David:
Thanks for having me on your blog today to talk about my new release, Leading the Pack, Book Two of The Silver Nights Trilogy.
I hadn’t originally thought to write a trilogy when I first wrote Leaving the Pack, which was Book one of The Silver Nights Trilogy. I had written it as a stand-alone novel about the truth behind the werewolf myth – a real race of people with extreme physiological reactions to the full moon in their lunar cycle. Persecuted for centuries, they now have to look for mates outside their clan, and book one dealt with Paul’s struggle to find his own way to securing the future and leaving the pack he had lead for so many years, keeping them hidden in plain sight among us.
It was a pleasure to return to the characters after so many years, though working on the two novels in tandem was a struggle while I was immersed in them.
The question I feel I have to answer now, is, “why go back?”
There are many answers to this question. Mostly, because I couldn’t leave it alone.
I had to return to and expand on the idea.
That’s not always a good enough reason, however, and even with the best will in the world, it can be a mistake.
I hope I’ve done the right thing. I hope I’ve not made a mess of the story. One thing I hate is when writers and moviemakers go back just for the sake of it.
One of my favourite movies is Highlander, and I’ve seen it many times. I hate the sequels. I hate the series. Silly films that made a mess of a great original story.
I recently watched the miniseries Lonesome Dove, after having read the book, and now I have discovered there are sequels and prequels, but I’m wary about even going there, given some comments I’ve read.
Why mess with such perfect stories? Why corrupt the vision?
If you go back, you have to have a reason, a need, something else to say.
In my case, I wanted to explain the werewolves from different angles; firstly, from the viewpoint of a new generation.
Paul’s pack, in Leaving the Pack, is a disciplined machine. Paul has complete control (mostly) of his power. But is such camaraderie innate in a race so apt to violence? What is it like to feel such potency for the first time? I wanted to explore the line between being the alpha and what I called the leash – does power necessarily come with responsibility or vice versa?
Secondly, how do werewolves adapt to a new millennium?
The twenty-first century is a world that such an ancient tribe as my werewolves would have trouble confronting, in terms of our more open, permissive and public society. How can you remain hidden in plain sight with so many cameras watching?
The world is changing rapidly for us; imagine for a race who live so much longer. And at the same time, if they can embrace the future, then so can any other culture.
David is a writer, ecologist and teacher from Dublin, Ireland, now living in Pamplona Spain. He has a degree in environmental biology and doctorate in zoology, specialising in deer biology and is still involved in deer management in his spare time.
As an avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David’s non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science. While some of his stories and novels are contemporary, others seek to describe the science behind the supernatural or the paranormal.
A long-time member of The World Wildlife Fund, David has pledged to donate 10% of his royalties on all his hitherto published books to that charity to aid with protecting endangered species and habitats. 10% of his royalties on The Silver Nights Trilogy will also be donated to Survival International, the movement for Tribal Peoples.
You can find out more and read some poems and short stories at http://davidjmobrien.wordpress.com/