Author: Skyla Dawn Cameron
Series: River Wolfe (#1)
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/YA
Release Date: Re-Released Aug 25 2014
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Defiant, nocturnal, moody–though River sounds like a typical teenager, she’s anything but. River’s a werewolf.
The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn't belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn't know who bit her or why.
But River isn't as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. And though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.
As if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn't want wasn't bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school.
The Inspiration Behind River
To be terribly unexciting about it, River actually came from a call for submissions.
Back in 2004, a friend passed me a call for subs from a small publisher looking for vampire, werewolf, and psi-powered character stories—both shorts and novels—and I hadn't written a werewolf story before, so I thought I’d give it a try. I had thought I’d write a short story.
I hadn't expected two weeks later to have a rough draft of a full-length novel in my hands.
So that is, at least, what kicked me into starting the book in the first place. But the roots of River went back much further: my love of wolves, my inability to identify with humans, and my dislike of school and the people who populated it.
The character of River herself, an angry violent outsider, seemed a good way to critically look back at middle and secondary school. Nothing brings the callousness and near sociopathy of kids into perspective like another species observing us would, in this case a wolf.
Wolves are not the big bad villains depicted in movies and stories. They’re highly intelligent, devoted to their pack, and have a strong sense of community. Teamwork, loyalty, compassion—these are all areas many humans struggle with, and it’s never more apparent than in high school.
Almost immediately, when writing a werewolf story, it felt much more natural to focus on the difficulties this fascinating, not-scary creature would have trying to survive in our world rather than depict yet another tale of a protagonist battling the beast it turned into on the full moon.
The other details of River’s character, putting someone underdeveloped into the human world, also came from experience; I wrote the book just after I turned twenty-one and since the age of fifteen I’d worked with special needs children as a tutor, respite worker, and developmental programmer. I’ve worked with severe communication and processing delays, speech difficulties, sensory integration, gross and fine motor skill development, and dealt with severe behavioural problems (ODD and conduct disorder), so I had an idea of what a wolf-turned-young-human-girl’s life would look like. Although the novel picks up three years after her change, elements of the work done to get her to that point are still evident in her day-to-day life from the modified classes she attends in high school to the social worker who still oversees her case.
As I wrote the story and the themes developed, I realized it contained strong threads of a common thing that shows up in most of my work: found/chosen family.
For a character like River, who was so isolated and angry and difficult for other characters to connect with, I hadn't expected the chosen family aspect to become so prominent. But almost as soon as she appeared on the page, just being herself and fighting for what she thought was right, other characters were drawn to her. Little by little, without River or even me knowing it, she built a pack of humans—her foster family who came to care for her no matter her damage; her foster brother who tried to look out for her like any biological big brother would; her friend Jen who broke away from the social group where she didn't belong to connect with River, someone with the strength Jen so desperately needed to find in herself; even Daryl, the one River deems an antagonist immediately, was someone pulled in by her uncompromising strength and honesty.
As much as River is about battling the things we can’t change and can’t take back, it’s also about finding a pack in those around us and drawing strength from a family built not by blood but by loyalty and respect.
All that from a simple call for submissions and a novel I never planned to write. I’ll be forever grateful for that email forward, over a decade later.
Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her short attention span. She is also a proud Writer of Unlikable Female Characters™.
Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she writes full time, works as a freelance designer, stabs people with double pointed knitting needles, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own Irish pub, as well as become world dictator.
Places to find Skyla
Facebook Author Page
Places to find River