Paranormal Inspiration: shapeshifters and hungry ants

December 7, 2007

 By Bonnie Vanak

What would happen if evil beings could shapeshift into any animal or insect form, retain their intelligence and clone themselves into a killing army?

This is what happens in my December Silhouette Nocturne book, The Empath.  In The Empath, army ants attack Nicolas and Maggie, werewolves who are forced to run for their lives. The Morphs, former werewolves who turned evil to gain power, shapeshift into bears, ants, bees, wolves, an alligator with razor-sharp teeth, even a fire-breathing dragon. Morphs need energy from dying victims, feeding off their terror to gain power. Nicolas and Maggie must work together and learn to trust in each other and their powers to defeat the enemy.

In one scene, army ants crawl over Nicolas and begin munching on him as if he were fast food. Of course (spoiler alert!) he survives. The idea for this scene stemmed from my childhood, when I accidentally sat on an ants’ nest while wearing shorts. They were only carpenter ants, but I’ll never forget the sensation of feeling something crawling on my skin and looking down to see a mass of black ants teeming over my bare legs. 

Maggie is a veterinarian who tries to find a cure for the mysterious disease killing her beloved dog. She’s unaware that she’s a werewolf, and the pack’s long-lost empath who can heal injury and disease. Nicolas must convince her of her true origins, and teach her to accept her destiny as a werewolf and the pack’s empath. As they race to cure the pack’s leader of the disease that is slowly killing him, they must continually evade the evil Morphs. At each turn, they wonder what form the enemy will take to try and destroy them.

Writing The Empath made me think about the tremendous power in the animal and insect kingdom. Of course it’s paranormal romance fiction, so all turns out fine in the end for Maggie and Nicolas; but as for me, next time I’ll look twice before sitting in the grass with shorts on.

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