When I started writing the otter shifter story that became Tail Slide, and that later spawned Otter Chaos, I had no idea that “otter” had a particular meaning in gay lingo. I just knew that I wanted an animal built for fun. Everything about an otter, from his humpy running gate to his snootful of whiskers says, “Having a good time here!”
Werewolves and bears seem to have a “canon” if you will. Not every author uses all elements of the generally accepted assumptions, of course, but there’s enough commonality for not explaining everything in detail. I decided that A) if there was an otter canon, I wasn’t’ chasing it down, and B) even if I knew it, I wasn’t going to use it.
One item in particular annoys me, starting with the fandom I was part of, and that’s treating a shifter like two entities. The human, with his “animal”, and the animal has its own opinions. The possibilities for argument are endless, with two personalities in one head. I prefer to think shifters as more like me, before coffee and after coffee. Same being, different reactions.
My first project for these stories then, was defining what otter rules were. How often did he need to shift, and how long did he stay shifted for choice? What were his limitations while shifted? Strengths? What about personality? Mental capacity? What’s important to him? I managed to jot most of the answers to these questions on sticky notes at work one day, and came home to find out the story had pretty much written itself. One happy-go-lucky guy, who sometimes wore fur and other times did not. One who sometimes thought with the human viewpoint was important and sometimes did not. One who liked sushi, and sometimes caught his own.
And then, because it’s fun to tease your characters, I gave him a job in a bank.
Ooh, that was kind of mean. But I also gave Lon a boyfriend with an active, open mind, who likes to snowboard almost as much as Lon does. Corey also has a cat, who’s convinced Lon’s going to eat her, no matter what shape he’s wearing.
Knowing what otter shifter rules are dictated how the story worked. Tail Slide turned out not to need the answers to certain shifter issues, while Otter Chaos turns on them. You can depend on the questions coming up, but not what the answers will be. Because here Lon’s and my answer to otter shifters being like everyone else:
About Otter Chaos:
Lon Ewing snowboarded in and turned economist Corey Levigne’s life upside down, introducing him to a brand new world. Corey’s still adjusting to a boyfriend who shifts into an otter and raids the koi pond—and now Lon says Corey’s department chair is a werewolf?
Wolves at the university, wolves in the bank—across Lon’s desk sits Professor Melvin Vadas and his hench-wolves, demanding a construction loan for the pack’s new lodge in the mountains. There’s just one little problem: the proposed building site is home to a breeding population of rare fish.
What do wolves care for stupid human rules, an otter who’d barely make a good snack, or one pesky human determined to protect the environment? Once they’re snout to snout with Corey and Lon there’s more than silverscale dace on the Endangered Species list.
Tail Slide (the short that kicked off otter madness)
Fresh powder snow and running water in the Colorado back country call Lon like the moon calls the wolves. Belly-sliding to a good time on the weekends makes up for a workweek at a desk, and meeting Corey adds a whole new level of fun to snowboarding.
It’s easy to slip away for time alone in the woods without raising suspicion, but how’s Lon to entertain himself when bad snow and a worse spill force them off the mountain too early?
Never give an otter a box of Cheerios.
About PD Singer:
P.D. Singer lives in Colorado with her slightly bemused husband, two rowdy teenage boys, and thirty pounds of cats. She’s a big believer in research, first-hand if possible, so the reader can be quite certain PD has skied down a mountain face-first, been stepped on by rodeo horses, acquired a potato burn or two, and will never, ever, write a novel that includes sky-diving.
When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand.