Once Upon a Tiger
Tiger Shifters #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: T&D Publishing
Date of Publication: December 13, 2013
Number of pages: 75
Word Count: ~23,000
Cover Artist: The Killion Group
She’ll never run.
Among the tiger shifters, Alexis Tarasova is regarded as fierce and dangerous, with a reputation that would make even the most daring tiger think twice about challenging her. Female tiger shifters may be rare and the mating run a critical part of their species’s survival, but Alexis is the only female Tracker and will not back down, even at the threat of tiger law. She will not be forced to mate. So when a handful of males band together to force her to participate in the run, Alexis chooses to stand her ground and fight instead.
He's forbidden to run.
Outcast from the tiger shifters after a vicious childhood attack left him mute, Victor Romanov has never taken part in the mate run. He’s never particularly cared, though, since the woman he loves refuses to take a mate. However, when he learns Alexis may be in danger, all bets are off. Nothing will keep him from her side.
Together, they're unmovable.
The chemistry between them burns wickedly hot and forges them into an unbeatable pair. Alexis knows that being with Victor means she will have to break another one of her people’s laws—a move that might push the tigers too far. But, for Victor, she will risk everything, including her life, and do what she thought she’d never do—run.
To Alexis’ surprise, Victor was standing at her door only a few minutes later. She swallowed and tried not to stare. He was magnificent, muscled and lean, with just the right amount of hair covering his human body. The hard cut angles of his face should have made him look harsh but somehow he just looked more compelling. Black eyes, closely cut dark hair, and a sexy half-smile that made her stomach muscles tighten, all combined to send her heartbeat pounding.
She’d never been around Victor when she was in estrous. In fact, since coming to terms with the knowledge that her obsession with him could never lead to a future, she’d made an effort to never spend time alone with him. He was the head security technician at the elders’ compound, so they crossed paths regularly. But she tried making sure there were others around to keep her from doing something stupid.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t always been successful.
She flashed on a recent memory of literally bumping into him in a corridor at the compound when she’d been too deep in thought to notice her surroundings. He’d held her arms while she caught her balance. The contact sent shivers of desire shooting through her body, forcing her to step back as soon as she could, then apologized.
He pulled a notebook from the back pocket of his dark jeans and wrote, You okay?
“Fine. The job I’m heading out on has me…” She shrugged. “It’s a tough one.”
“No. Nothing like that.” She made the mistake of looking up to finish and got momentarily caught in the deep darkness of his steady gaze. Her stomach danced in giddy delight even as her heart tightened. Swallowing, she said, “The tiger I’m going after has something wrong with him. He’s started stalking children.”
Human or tiger?
“Exactly.” Dangerous to their people if he were discovered by the humans. Also dangerous for her as her target couldn’t possibly be sane if he was hunting kids.
Has he hurt any yet?
“No. Fortunately. He came close twice, though. I have to find him soon.”
Do you want help?
She straightened. No one offered to help her. Not since she’d taken the Tracker oath. But he looked serious. And beneath the façade he normally wore, she sensed a hard core of intensity only a stupid person would challenge. His silence was intimidating enough, but for the first time, she saw a dangerous edge to him.
And he was offering to help her. The gesture touched her in ways she wouldn’t have expected. Suddenly, she was aware of just how alone they were and just how desperately she wanted him.
“I’ll be fine.” Even as she said this, her heartbeat quickened and she had trouble speaking above a whisper.
I know. But if you need me, I’m here.
Her pulse pounded loud in her ears as she read. Could he hear it? Did he realize just how much she needed him—just not for the hunt? She found herself staring at his mouth. The urge to lean in and taste him overwhelmed her.
Alexis blinked back the memory and realized she was once again staring at Victor’s mouth. This time, there was no one around to interrupt them and keep her from giving in to the years of wanting. During that previous meeting, a member of his security tech team had required his attention and he’d hurried away, leaving her breathless. She’d brought in the rogue tiger with a little more aggression than she might have normally. And then she’d taken herself off to her retreat here in the mountains to wallow in the frustration of having to resist the only man she wanted.
Now Victor was here. No one between them. And her hormones were making things infinitely worse.
His being naked did not help her control either—which was hanging on by a very tiny, thin thread.
About the Author:
Kat Simons earned her Ph.D in animal behavior, working with animals as diverse as dolphins and deer. She brought her experience and knowledge of biology to her paranormal romance fiction, where she delights in taking nature and turning it on its ear. After traveling the world, she now lives in New York City with her family. Kat is a stay-at-home mom and a full time writer.
Interview:I would like to thank author Kat Simons for stopping by today to tell us a little about herself and Once Upon a Tiger.
KS: Hi Diane! Thanks for having me here today.
What is your favorite part of the story, Once Upon a Tiger?
KS: Obviously since it’s my story I love it all. *g* But I’d have to say if I had a favorite scene, it’s probably the scene after Victor arrives to help Alexis and they’re in her cabin discussing what to do next. I love the tension in that scene. I also really like the following scene from Victor’s point of view… Okay, really I like it all.
How long did it take you to write Once Upon a Tiger?
KS: I write pretty fast first drafts—actually, I write really fast first drafts because I have no time so I have to do a lot in a short period—and this is a novella, so I think I had the rough draft done after about two weeks. But then the editing started. A couple of rounds through me first, followed by some beta readers, then a professional editor and a final copyeditor. That all took about three months in total, fitted in around life and such.
What inspired you to write your first book?
KS: I’ve been telling stories and writing fiction for as long as I can remember. I wrote a lot of short stories through college—even submitted a few. I wrote my first full length novel, actually my first three novels, in the couple of years I took off between getting my Bachelor’s degree and getting my Ph.D. I was inspired to write the particular novel I wrote first because I couldn’t find anything like it to read. (Isn’t that how most of us get started?) I wanted a fantasy romance—high fantasy like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones but with a real, proper romance as the primary plot. That particular book is still under the bed *g* But it taught me a lot.
What is your typical day like?
KS: If it’s a school day, my morning is a mad dash to get my 5 year old off to kindergarten. Then the baby and I come home, have breakfast and set about doing whatever needs doing—my writing work, housework (hahahahahaha—I’m not much of a house cleaner), laundry, shopping, whatever. I squeeze my writing in around entertaining the baby and getting chores done. When (if? *sigh*) the baby takes a nap, I settle in to write or do writing related work. In the afternoon, we collect the 5 year old and the afternoon/evening is play, homework (yes a kindergartener has homework! I can’t hardly believe that), dinner, reading and bed. Somewhere in there I get a few minutes to spend with my husband. If I’m very tired, I go to sleep as soon as the baby is asleep. If I can take it, I’ll stay up a little later and do a bit more work. But at the moment, with the baby only just turning one and still not sleeping through the night (not even close), I tend to just go to sleep. That’s as close to a typical day as I get. My days tend to be…flexible. *g*
How do you overcome writer’s block?
KS: By not believing in it. LOL. Seriously, though, I just don’t have time for writer’s block. As it is, I have to write in fits and spurts, taking advantage of whatever time I get. So, for example, when the baby goes to sleep, and he may only sleep for 30 minutes, I only have 30 minutes to work. I can’t sit staring at a blank screen for an hour. I have to be able to just start typing when I open my laptop and that’s what I do. Even if I don’t like what’s coming out or know what’s going to happen next, I just write. Eventually, I find my way through the story while I do that. I can always edit it later.
So I guess the way I get through writer’s block is to just keep putting words on the page until some of them start to make sense. I also mull over my story a lot when I’m not at the screen. By doing this, I usually have at least an inkling of where to start when I can sit down and write. I can’t say if this process would work for anyone else, but it’s the only way I can do things.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
KS: Currently, I’m working on the second Tiger Shifters book. It was going to be a novella, but as I write, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a bit longer than that—maybe category novel length by the time I get done. (As an aside, this is why I love electronic publishing. The length of a book can be what it’s going to be rather than having to meet a specific, required word count.) Anyway, it takes place a few years after Once Upon a Tiger. The hero is a Tracker and the heroine is a scientist whose best friend (another tiger shifter) is killed by a human serial killer. The basic story is the heroine wants to kill the murderer, and the hero is trying to keep her from attempting it because it will get her locked up for life.
Among the tigers, killing a human—especially in tiger form—is almost always an automatic death sentence because it risks calling attention to them. They’re having enough trouble surviving without having the general human population discovering them and hunting them out of fear. Since the heroine is one of the precious few female tigers, she wouldn’t be put to death but she would be locked up for the rest of her life if she kills a human. The hero is in love with her, so he is trying to protect her. But of course, he wants to kill the murderer too, so he’s pretty conflicted. I don’t want to tell too much more (to avoid spoilers *g*), but that’s the basic story.
What book are you reading now?
KS: I’m working my way through Meljean Brook’s Guardian Series. I never read the first book in the series—Demon Angel—so I’m reading that now. I’m also reading two non-fiction books: The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin (my oldest is on the spectrum) and “Judy Blume and Lena Dunham in Conversation”. That last was a bonus little book my husband got with a subscription to The Believer magazine.
What do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?
KS: I will read anything. I prefer paperbacks and ebooks over hardcover. I find hardcover difficult to hold and carry. While I still adore reading paperbacks, I do end up reading more ebooks because I can read them with the lights out while the baby is sleeping. I really like the instant gratification of ebooks too. Someone recommends a book, and I can buy it right then. That’s a little addictive, actually. But I like paperbacks a lot still too and read them when I can.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Diane! This was a fun interview!