How HER SECRET AGENT Got Its Start…or How Backstory Material Became a Book (a series of books actually)
When I first started writing Book 1 in the X-OPS Series (HER PERFECT MATE, May 2014), the first few chapters practically wrote themselves. I thought I’d be done with the story—about a shadowy intelligence organization called the Department of Covert Operations (DCO) and how they teamed up an Army Special Forces soldier with a feline shifter—in no time. But when you’re planning out a book series that covers twenty or so books about a covert organization that has been in existence for over a decade, you quickly find out that you need to think about each character’s backstory a little. Actually, you need to think about it A LOT!
Within the first few chapters, I found myself repeatedly referencing people and events in the DCO’s past, people and events critical to what I was writing about now. Like why does Ivy have problems with military partners (how many partners did she have anyway)? Why had the DCO come up with their draconian prime directive (humans are supposed to kill their shifter partners if compromised)? Who the heck is this wolf shifter Clayne Buchanan, and why is he so grouchy all the time? Where did the slimy protagonist Keegan Stutmeir come from…and is this the first time the DCO has seen him? How does the DCO find its shifters and who was the first one they found? The more I wrote, the more questions I uncovered.
I realized that a lot of history would have had to happen to get the DCO to the place it was in Book 1. As much as I really wanted to jump into the middle of HER PERFECT MATE, I knew I had to slow down and spend a little time working out some details of the overarching backstory for my new series.
Well, what I first thought would be a just a few days stretching out some quick notes to myself turned into daunting task of creating a history for the entire X-OPS series. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I ended up spending as much time writing backstory as I did the finished work that the reader ultimately got their hands on.
I found out the hard way that I had to figure out how an organization like the DCO could be created, who would do it, and how they’d run it. I needed to come up with timelines, character profiles, and histories for each of the major players in the series, sometimes going back years before they show up at the DCO and taking them through the various story arcs where they appear. I also needed to flesh out the background characters as well because as the series moves from book to book I realized that the background character in book 2 might be a major character in book 6. OMG, there’s a passing reference to a female wolf shifter in book 3 that shows up as a primary character in book 9. Who the heck is this person?
Before I knew it, the backstory had taken on a life of its own and had almost grown into its own series. I had little baby novellas for all these people and how they fit into the big scheme of things. I never intended to do anything with them. It was just backstory material, so I wouldn’t get confused. But when I mentioned these baby novellas to my agent, saying that maybe I could put them on my website as extra tidbits, he said he wanted to read one of them. I sent him an outline of the events surrounding John Loughlin’s (the Director of the DCO) first run-in with a shifter and how it shaped his life. The next thing I know, my publisher is telling me they wanted to release it as a free digital book!
The novella (HER SECRET AGENT) hit stores December 2nd and readers are loving it! What started as an effort to list a few crucial people and events has turned into this whole world of new characters with adventures, misdeeds, and romances all their own. I already have two other novellas in the works and I’m thrilled at the chance to give my readers a behind the scenes look at all the stuff that goes on before, during, and after the primary novels. I think the fans of X-OPS are going to love all the fun stuff I have to show them. In fact, they’ll get to know things that most of the characters in the books don’t even clearance for. But be careful. This information is classified and you can’t tell any of the characters about it!
If you haven’t read the X-OPS Series yet, this is the perfect book to start with!
If you’ve already read and love the X-OPS Series, this is the perfect companion novella to tide you over until Book 3 (HER WILD HERO) releases!
A prequel to the fantastic X-Ops series by USA Today bestselling author Paige Tyler
John Loughlin, Director of the Department of Covert Ops, is in New York City on a recruiting mission. Cree Forest is a clever fox shifter-and very foxy. John is keen to hire her brilliant mind onto his team.
But Cree isn't what she seems. Just as John has been watching her, Cree has been spying on him. Now John is getting too close-both professionally and personally. On opposite sides of a lethal game, can they trust each other with their hearts?
Cree abruptly realized that while she'd been busy gathering wool, John was sitting there apparently content to watch her sip coffee. That was another thing she liked about him. He didn’t seem to have the urge to fill every moment of silence with unnecessary talk. That casual, confident way of his made her wonder what kind of lover he’d be. A very good one, she was sure.
She forced herself to focus on something else in a useless attempt to get that all-too-vivid image out of her head.
“How did you figure out I was special?” she asked, refusing to use any of the crappy titles his organization seemed obsessed with applying to her kind. “Does the DCO have a big team of experts who pore over hours and hours of videos and records, looking for signs and tells?”
John shook his head, a small smile curving his lips. “Not really. We still don't know enough about shifters for that to be possible.”
“How did you spot me then?”
Her boss had told her to make sure the DCO noticed her, but it would still be nice to know exactly what they’d keyed in on.
John shrugged. “With some shifters, there are physical and behavioral traits that give them away—overt demonstrations of strength and speed, aggressive or over-confident attitude. But in your case, it was more subtle and harder to put into words. It was just a sense I got from watching all the surveillance video. The way you move through a crowd like a graceful animal, the way you lift your nose just a bit like you're testing the breeze for a scent, the way you constantly scan the restaurant when you're eating. It all told me you were special.”
Huh. She had no idea she even did those things, but those were damn subtle signs. “It sounds like you and your team spent a lot of hours watching those videos to pick up all those things?”
He gave her a lazy smile. “No team—just me. And yes, I spent a lot of hours watching you.”
The idea that John had sat in front of a TV or computer monitor for hours on end gazing at her so intently that he'd been able to pick up the details he had should have creeped her out. But it didn't. In fact, it was sort of a turn-on.
“So you're saying the DCO didn't peg me as a shifter—you did?”
He nodded. “But no one there knows yet. I haven't told them. I thought it best to find out if you were interested before saying anything. Right now, the few who are aware of you think you're simply a potential operative of the boring, everyday human variety.”
A grin tugged at her lips—he had a way of making her smile. But what could she say? This mission was turning out to be more fun than she'd ever imagined. And the fact that John was the only one who knew about her secret was like extra frosting on an already well-iced cake.
“Are you interested?” he asked again.
That was a loaded question if she ever heard one. She felt a warm rush suffuse her belly. “I'm very interested.”
“Excellent.” He grinned. “Does that mean you’re joining the DCO?”
She laughed. “I didn’t say that.”
He frowned. “But you just said you were interested.”
She leaned forward in her chair and fixed him with a sexy look, letting a little yellow-glow flash in her eyes. “I didn't say I was interested in the DCO. When I said I was interested, I meant in you.”
He tilted his head to the side, giving her an appraising look that sent the rush of heat she’d felt earlier to pool between her thighs. “I can work with that.”
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And don’t forget to check out the other books in the X-OPS Series!
HER PERFECT MATE (X-OPS 1)
HER LONE WOLF (X-OPS 2)
HER WILD HERO (X-OPS 3)
Enter the World of X-OPS!
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