Terry Spear – Research in Writing—How Do You Make Werewolves Real?

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

Today we have a special guest blogger  – Terry Spear.Terry is an award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense. Her novel, Heart of the Wolf, was named in Publishers Weekly’s BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NOR Reader Choice for BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

And she’s also a USA Today bestselling author courtesy of A SEAL IN WOLF’S CLOTHING. Congratulations, Terry!

Let’s hear what Terry has to say:


How Do You Make Werewolves Real?  

Or anything real, fantastical, imaginary, or real life real for that matter?

You must create the world that feels real. Then it needs to be populated with people, or other creatures, and they must seem real. So how can we do that with research?

Even if we’re writing about a real place, how will anyone “know” it unless we do research? The climate, the demographics, the buildings, the plant life.

When I wrote Ghostly Liaisons, a YA paranormal tale set in Florida, I lived in the house the heroine lives in as a teen. I explored the rattle snake-infested and alligator-filled swamp and jungle-like forest across the street. I swam in the water moccasin-infested canal until I knew better. I climbed the sand dunes out back of the canal. But even though I “knew” the place, I did research. I’d lived there as a teen and didn’t remember all the kinds of plants that existed in the jungle. I researched about ghost sightings in the vicinity, and about pirates and their pirating path in the area. Research then made the story more real, even though both teens have psychic abilities.

The same with when I wrote Seduced by the Wolf. I had lived in Oregon, but when I wrote the story, I hadn’t remembered how cold the lakes still were late into the year. Frozen in some areas! So I had to revise my idea based on that. One of the places my hero and heroine in Heart of the Wolf end up is at Wolf Mountain in Oregon. I actually printed out topographic maps to study the elevation of the terrain, where water was located, the vegetation, and the chances of sighting a bear in the area. I also used Google Earth to determine the layout of the wolf’s pen at the zoo in Seduced by the Wolf. I used the same zoo in Heart of the Wolf, but it had been renovated significantly since then.

I also researched how frequently wolves are spotted in Oregon. When I wrote Destiny of the Wolf, I learned that deer were destroying the forests, and wolves were needed to keep the impact down. That the new growth was beginning to make a slow come back. I love doing research because it can add realism and details to the stories to make them richer.

When I wrote Dreaming of the Wolf, I had the problem of the heroine turning wolf at a motel. Would a guest be allowed to have a wolf in a room, even if the hotel allowed dogs? What are the laws concerning wolf ownership? Also, I researched the qualifications of bounty hunters and read up on what bounty hunters have done while doing their jobs.

In Wolf Fever, I researched whether a wolf’s saliva would be different than a dog’s. I’ve researched werewolf lore also, and real werewolf trials and talked about them in some of my books. I also researched about passing viruses from one species to another, from humans to pets.

So wolves and werewolves are now real. What about places? They can be, or they can be made up. Silver Town, Colorado is run by a wolf pack. It’s not a real place. It’s based on Telluride, and some other old Colorado silver mining towns, and just a werewolfish kind of place.

In To Tempt the Wolf and A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing, I researched different areas along the Oregon coast, where I visited a number of times when I lived in Tigard, Oregon and made up the cabin resort that Meara and Hunter Greymere inherited. But Finn’s home was a real house offered for sale on the coast, and I used the description of the forest, beach, patio, barbecue, vegetation, security system, and the interior of the home, only I changed the color scheme to make more of an impact and to have a deeper meaning for the hero.

In Seduced by the Wolf, I did the same thing, found a home, country ranch in Oregon, that was offered for sale, and it became my pack’s digs. There were several out buildings including a couple of extra homes for pack members, a bigger building like a barracks for bachelor males, and timber, cattle, a river, everything a pack could want. It even talked about other animals that often grazed in the area, great for hunting! The place was real, and it was fun turning it into a home for fantastical creatures!

Looking at pictures of people can help to give ideas for the story characters also. In the popular YA fae series, The Winged Fae came into being because of the whimsical picture of a winged fae drawing graffiti on a wall. She seemed perfect for the role of a mischievous fae.  I’m just starting to work on Dragon Fae—my daughter found her picture. She’s Goth looking, eyeing something in a treasure box, dragons love to hoard treasure, so it’s the start of a new character and book.

Of course, research is necessary for historical pieces also. In A Ghost of a Chance at Love, I emailed the Stagecoach Inn staff in Salado to learn if the hotel had a bathroom back in 1870. But they didn’t! Everyone had to use an outhouse. Ewww…

I visited Scotland and have used some of the research I’ve learned in my stories also in Winning the Highlander’s Heart and my other Highland stories.

If I get stuck on my story, I often will do some research. And often will come up with a new angle I had never thought of before!

Let research make your stories real!

Terry Spear

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”


Terry Spear has written a dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. An award-winning author, Terry’s Heart of the Wolf  was named a Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008. A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear is a librarian by day and spends every spare moment writing paranormal romance as well as historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on new paranormal romances! For more information, please visit http://www.terryspear.com/.






Thank you so much Terry!

Well, Scribes fans. Your turn – how do you use research to make your stories come alive. Or if you have a question about Terry’s books – ask away!

27 thoughts on “Terry Spear – Research in Writing—How Do You Make Werewolves Real?”

  1. OMG, Casey, the first time I get to see the USA Today bestselling tag in a guest blog post!!! Thanks so much! I still am reeling from the announcement!!!

    Thanks so much for having me here today! With 5 hours sleep (kept thinking about wolves last night when I got off work at 9 PM), and an 8-hour work day looming before me today, I have my day cut out for me, but I’ll stop in when I can today on breaks and at lunchtime and after work!!!

    Good luck to everyone who comments! Off to let the world know I’m here! 🙂 Thanks again, Casey!

  2. Terry, congrats on making the USA Today list! I’m very impressed with the amount of research you do, but I’m not surprised, considering how amazing your details are in your book. I’m lucky in that I have a cousin who owns a Dojo and can help me with my fighting scenes. Otherwise, my heroes would fight like five year old girls. Congrats again!

  3. Hi Terry and Welcome to the Scribes. Congrats on making the list! You’re books look amazing. I’m so impressed with how prolific you are, your beautiful covers, and the amount of research you do for each story.

    It must be a day to talk about research because I just posted about my research for Savage Cinderella over at YA Beyond ( http://bit.ly/yZbd5j ) and I noticed the folks over at the WG2E are also addressing the importance of research. I don’t think anyone who is a non-writer can comprehend how much research goes into creating books. But I guess that’s the beauty of it. Readers get to be transported into a “real” world of imagination through the talent and diligence of authors who work so hard to make it all believeable.

    Do you find that a lot of your research comes from you asking yourself questions about the story and tryng to suspend reader’s disbelief? Or is it more about just setting the scene and trying to be accurate?

    1. Hi, PJ! Thanks so much! I’m still on Cloud 9! The covers are gorgeous!

      Some of my research comes from setting the scene and trying to be as accurate as possible. I’ll just add something to a scene and later research it to see if that holds true. If it doesn’t, I’m reworking the scene! Or like when I was writing about a marten in A Highland Wolf Wedding, I researched to get some details to make the animal come alive to readers. Some of it is trying to make a fantasy world seem real…by attributing wolf or jaguar characteristics to humans, but also, I use some true stories about wolves/jaguars to add to the fantasy. 🙂

  4. Thanks so much, Casey! I’m thrilled to be here!

    Shelly, thanks so much!!! My son has a double black belt in two different forms of martial arts. I even did a magazine article on him for Listen Magazine for teens! I would act out some of the scenes with him, or ask him how to get a weapon away from a perp while writing some of my scenes. It’s great fun to have someone like that who can help us out when we’re not the experts ourselves!! 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Werewolves, Fae, Highlanders, SEALs , what more can a reader ask for? And all by one author, AWESOME! I’m a new Terry Spear reader, and loving it! Thank you.

  6. I know that Terry can make wolves real — I just read DREAMING OF THE WOLF for the Rita Awards (a real standout in a mostly mediocre field) and totally believed it. Now I need to read the whole series…

    1. Woohoo, thanks so much, Gerri!!! I hope you love the wolves!!! 🙂 When I went to the wolf reserve to see them, my daughter said, “You’re not going to fall in love with one of the pups and bring it home, are you, Mom?”

      Lol….not unless he’s a hunky shifter kind!!

  7. Congratulations on your listing in the USA Today list. I am amazed at the research you have lived. Your life sounds as exciting as your stories. Is a wolf’s saliva different than a dog’s? And how would you go about finding that out? And bathrooms in the 1870 in hotels usually took the form of those bowls you see in antique stores. People buy them today to put fruit in. They are collectibles. Imagine? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, Gail! I’ve always been told to write what you know. In several stories I’ve written about, I’ve been to the location. Like in A Howl for a Highlander, coming out next year, it’s set in the Grand Cayman Islands. I actually went on the dinner cruise, the stingray snorkeling adventure, and the pirate ship too. The only thing I didn’t have my hero or heroine do was take the submarine down, which I did do. I even ate at the restaurant in the story. We can’t always go to a place we write about, but when we can, it makes it that much more special, I think! Wolf’s saliva is different than a dogs! I read where they were testing for that in the case of a farmer’s sheep having been killed. They discovered it was a dog that had done the deed, not a wolf!

      LOL on the bowls for fruit. Ewwww. LOL

  8. Wow! USA Today Best Selling author. I’m so honored to be here. On this special day. I know of a small town much more north of me, that you actually can hear the wolves howling from your home , and if you’re near the Intl Wolf Center you can see them in a very natural habitat. And some of these big flannel clad lumbering men in this town, I suspect might be able to shift. But you’ll never know for sure, until you personally check it out. Question: Is there anything you don’t know about wolves that you want to know? Thanks for sharing your research and adventures with us today. DD

    1. Thanks so much, Donna!!! To think the day before I was just me. Well, truthfully, I still feel like I’m just me! But today at work the manager of the Civic Center said that anytime I wanted to reserve a room for a 100 up to 2000 people to offer workshops, they could handle it. LOL

      I still want to know how to howl like a wolf. I wish you were closer and I could just run up to Minnesota and take a howling class and visit with you! 🙂 Thanks so much!!!

  9. Congratulations on hitting the Big Time, Terry! Your books look terrific and I’m putting some on my TBR list. Thanks for so much for visting us today, and for the glimpse into your process.

    1. You’re so welcome, Susannah! It’s exciting to make a list like that. I kept hoping I might someday win a Rita for RWA. But making a list like this is really out of this world! Thanks for including my books in your to read pile!!! Hope you love them!!!

  10. Terry – you know I think you are phenomenal, and the rest of the world is finding out now too! How you manage to do everything you do amazes me, but I am so grateful that you can spin such glorious worlds where anything is possible; that take me away and allow me to be someone else for a few hours…it is such a generous gift that you are honestly not paid enough for. Are not rewarded enough for, are not recognized nearly enough for. But you ARE loved dearly by those of us who appreciate you for sharing your gifts with us!
    Congratulations for finally getting some of the recognition you deserve and may your star continue to rise and shine brighter than any other!

    1. Wow, thanks, Gena!!! I’ve always been told to think of the highest point you can go and aim for it. Go for the top. Now, some have said they never did anything and they made it. That’s great. But more of us have struggled to get there.

      And to me, it makes it that much more worth the “prize.”

      Thanks again, Gena! You’re the greatest!

  11. Thanks so much, Savannah! When I read a story, I want to be in that story, living it, breathing it, struggling as the character to find happily ever after. And in the meantime, I want all the perks the characters get too! 🙂 Thanks again!

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