With Wolf Under Fire, Paige Tyler kicks off a new series in her paranormal universe of werewolf heroes and the people who love them. We talked to Tyler about the concept for the STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team series and why she and her husband plan out all her books at P.F. Chang’s.
Where did the idea for this spinoff come from? Have you known for a few books now that you wanted to set another series in this world, or did the idea come after you finished Wolf Rebel, the last book in your SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series?
The STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team series spinoff actually has roots all the way back to book three in the SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series, In the Company of Wolves. Caleb Lynch, our favorite out-of-control omega werewolf, made his first appearance in that book and his character screamed out for his own story. Unfortunately, with his criminal background, he didn’t fit in with the basic premise of the SWAT Series (i.e. law enforcement) so he was sort of stuck for a while . . . years actually. And no, he wasn’t happy about that!
It wasn’t until the release of book nine in the SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series, Wolf Instinct that we started thinking seriously about the spinoff. This book introduced not only another scene-stealing side character—Jake Huang—but also the broader supernatural world, revealing that there are other things besides werewolves that go bump in the night.
Take those two characters, a wide-open supernatural world, an international perspective and a tag line of “Mission Impossible . . . with werewolves” and you have the basis of STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team in one neat package.
Is there any paranormal creature you haven’t depicted that you’d really like to have in your books someday?
That’s easy. I’ve always wanted to write a story with a gargoyle. There’s something so powerful and tragic about a creature forced to sit on the top of a building, watching life pass them by. Just writing that little part has a dozen ideas spinning though my head that I’d love to jump on . . . if there were enough hours in the day.
“I’ve never written alpha-holes. Can’t do it. Don’t want to.”
I really enjoyed how Jake had some typical alpha traits, but was also very emotionally intelligent and respectful of Jes’ abilities and boundaries. What led you to make him a less traditional alpha male?
I’ve never written alpha-holes. Can’t do it. Don’t want to. The stories I write are as much about strong, capable women as they are about the strong, capable men they fall in love with. There’s no room in my world—or my stories—for anything less.
What do you love about romantic suspense? Would you ever consider writing in another genre?
I’ve always been attracted to the danger and action of the suspense side of the house. Having your characters in tense, life-threatening situations brings out a ton of raw emotions and words that can be fun to explore. It also brings obvious conflict to the story, both internal and external, while providing a plot vehicle to carry the story in between those moments that the hero and heroine are developing their connection. And yeah, blowing up stuff is a lot of fun.
What was the first paranormal romance you remember reading and loving?
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks! It came out around 2005, and while I had read some paranormal romance before then, none had really struck me quite the same way. In my experience before that book, supernatural protagonists (mostly vampires) were a rather broody lot. Woe is me, I live in a dark home, drinking blood, I’m so unhappy, etc., etc. Not that I mind that particular trope (especially when it comes to Angel from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”!) but it started getting a bit old. Then I find Kerrelyn’s book about a vamp who loses a fang biting something he shouldn’t have and the human dentist (who hates the sight of blood) he goes to for help. The story was so different than anything I’d read before and showed me that paranormal creatures are people, too, looking for love, laughs and happiness. It changed the whole way I approached the genre and has had a tremendous effect on how we write our paranormal stories.
I imagine this book required a lot of research, from the various international locales the team visits to the equipment they use. What aspect do you most enjoy researching? And is there anything that is particularly annoying to research, but necessary?
Yes, tons of research! All I can say is thank God for Google and the rest of the internet. I depend on hubby a lot for the weapons and equipment, but we both get wrapped up in exploring the locales for the adventures the team gets involved in. I really love looking at that kind of stuff—old cities, hotels, iconic buildings and landscapes—and imagining having a chance to see it for real someday.
Research can take on its own life sometimes, taking the story in a direction you didn’t even consider. That happened when hubby found a GoPro video someone had taken of themselves riding a motorcycle through the Blackwall Tunnel in London. The footage was so mesmerizing we ended up changing the story to have the hero and heroine ride a motorcycle in the same tunnel.
Of course, this can also be the annoying part. Research can be a tremendous time suck! You think you’re going to spend a few minutes finding some details on a restaurant your characters go to eat and the next thing you know, you look up and realize you spent four hours of your day flipping through images of food you’re never going to actually eat! The internet is a very dangerous place . . . you can get trapped in there!
You and your husband, who is also your writing partner, go to P.F. Chang’s to plot out your story arcs. How did that tradition get started, and do you have a favorite dish?
That’s a great question! We’d eaten at P.F. Chang’s a few times over the years and really liked it, but up until about 2011 or so, it was merely a restaurant we ate at occasionally. Then we were at the Lori Foster Get Together in West Chester, Ohio, that year and ended up going to dinner at Chang’s with a few other authors from the conference. After receiving some advice on what kind of stories we should be writing and what New York was looking for, hubby and I ended going back to Chang’s the next day for lunch by ourselves. We ordered Chang’s Spicy Chicken and spent hours brainstorming ideas for our next book, which ultimately became Her Perfect Mate from our X-OPS series, our first traditionally published print book. We discovered we did our best brainstorming over a plate of Spicy Chicken and brown rice, liberally coated with hot mustard. Now we drive about 30 minutes a couple times a month to the nearest PF Chang’s so we can plot out our stories and we always order the same meal. Yes, it’s become a crutch—and maybe a vice—but it works so well, we don’t want to mess with it.
And yes, we tried to contact PF Chang’s about becoming the official author of the restaurant chain in return for free food. Shockingly, they’ve never returned our inquiries!
A lovely aspect of this book is how organically and naturally the team begins to feel like a family. What are your favorite found families in fiction?
Hubby and I spent 12 years roaming around the globe while he was in the Army. He was in the Bomb Squad, a small team environment that’s completely different than most people envision when they think of the military. Basically, everywhere we went was like a little family. It was that exposure, and how these small teams interact and take care of each other, that comes out in my stories.
As far as found families, there are more than a few. The whole Hogwarts world of Harry Potter is one, of course, then there are the Monster High characters, and most recently the four teens from The Last Kids on Earth. If you haven’t already figured it out, I tend to read a lot of teen and young adult stuff. They all seem to have a lot of family stuff that I love.
What’s next for you?
Well, Seal on a Mission, the next book in the SEALs of Coronado series, releases Aug. 18, then Wolf Untamed, the next book in the SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series, releases Nov. 24. We’re also currently writing the next book in the STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team series, and after that, the next books in the SEALs of Coronado series, SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series and STAT: Special Threat Assessment Team series!
Author photo by Pure 7 Studios.