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Author Interview & Book Review: Shift by MR Merrick

Posted by The Obscured Vixen on July 10, 2012

Author Interview & Book Review: Shift by MR Merrick

The Protector Series: Book #2

Devastated by a terrible loss, Chase is trying to balance the life he’s been left with, a family he’s still getting to know, and power he never thought he’d have. He doesn’t understand why the Goddess has named him the Protector and granted him two gifts: the Mark, a tattoo that now covers his back, and the ring. But between getting interrogated by the Circle and psychic attacks from Riley, the Mark is the least of his concern. There’s a demon inside Rayna that’s fighting to be released, and it’s not her inner witch. It’s something else—a monster threatening to tear her apart.

As Chase struggles to control his magic, his enemies are closing in. Everyone has staked a claim on his ring, and destroying it may be his only chance to stop Riley. But Chase must decide if stopping him is worth risking the lives of everyone he cares about, or if protecting the ring will be enough to save his world.

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Shift begins right where Exiled left off. And I must admit I LOVE when authors do that.

Caution: Spoilers ahead!

Riley is hungry as ever and still coming after Chase. Chase meets the two Dark Brothers, that have now sided with Riley. Riley and Darius are invading Chase’s dreams and cause him pain that hurts him in the real world when he wakes up. Riley is just about ready to do anything to take his son down.

We finally find out who Rayna’s father is! Her father is Jonathan, a hunter and panther shifter.

I can honestly admit that it is not who I expected it to be. I guess I expected someone… tougher? Jonathan has been trying to find Rayna and get in touch with her for years, but her mother went into hiding. He only found out where she was and that she was even alive when Rayna’s mother was killed.

In Shift our eyes are opened to the world of shifters. The last time Rayna tried to shift in the condo, she passed out and really wasn’t doing well. There is a feline clan that offers to help Rayna shift complete the shift safely. Marcus and Chase know they can’t help her anymore and that there is a chance she could die without help. Rayna agrees to have the clan help her shift.

Willy has been bitten by a shifter and after a while he isn’t healing. He calls grams and she confirms that none of them thought was possible: a demon can become a shifter. Grams gets the local wolf pack and sends Willy with them so he can learn how to shift safely.

Everyone and their mother wants Chase’s ring, but he won’t give it up. Chase wants to destroy the ring, but the only way to do that is stab it with Itheral’s dagger. Chase learns that the dagger is hidden in a dangerous dimension.

Chase, being the stubborn ass that he is, goes after the dagger anyway. This causes Marcus, Rayna, Tiki and Willy to follow him. They almost get themselves killed because of it. You’ll have to read this amazing story to find out the on-the-edge-of-your-seat details.

I like that Merrick does not change his characters and keeps them true to themselves. Chase has been a stubborn pain in the ass since day one, and that has never changed.

When everyone returns safely from the dimension with Itheral’s dagger, Chase and Marcus have a heart-to-heart. We find out Marcus has been in love with Chase’s mom for years. Chase isn’t sure what to say, and finally sees Marcus as a man that lost the love of his life.

Chase now has all four elements and it’s implied that he will be given a lightning power that no hunter has had for centuries. They think that’s what the mark is on Chase’s back.

This story moves very quickly, which I personally enjoy. There were no dull moments or unnecessary details. I highly recommend this story to anyone who is interested in fantasy and suspense. It is truly a great read!

Best part of this book? Rayna and Chase finally make out! Woot woot! Ohh c’mon, I wasn’t the only one who was super excited for this ; )

One of my favorite parts about being a blogger is that I get to meet amazing authors. And I must admit that MR Merrick is humble, down to earth, and an all around badass.He was awesome enough to agree to an interview for my blog. Enjoy! : )

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Obscured Vixen: In this book you talk about meditation and concentrating to step outside yourself in real life and to protect yourself in your dreams. I found this extremely interesting. Where did this concept come from?
MR Merrick:
It’s actually an idea that was implanted in me nearly ten years ago. I was celebrating New Year’s Eve away from parties, and at a house with a few people I knew. There was a lady there that lived on an Indian Reserve about an hour out of town, and we got into talking about spirituality.Native history is ripe with stories, legends, and beliefs, and somehow, in the middle of our discussion, we got on the topic of out of body experiences. Now in some cultures, it’s believed that you can essentially “step outside yourself” onto a higher level. A level that exists just a few inches above ours, but it’s also believed that this is dangerous. When you’re having an out of body experience, it leaves your physical body exposed and open to negativity. In this case, she was talking to me about evil spirits entering your body. That’s where most of my inspiration for that came from. And to this day, it still both fascinates, and frightens me.

OV: Is there going to be a throw down with Rayna and Karissa?
MRM:
A lot of readers give me a hard time with how slowly some relationships develop in this series, but it wasn’t done unintentionally. The Protector Series isn’t primarily a love story, so although many people are expecting a love triangle to be coming into play, that is not the case. While I cannot confirm or deny there may be jealousy between the two, I also cannot say whether or not you can expect a chick fight. That’ll be for you to find out in the upcoming installments.

OV: Just throwing this out there: is Darius Chase’s uncle?
MRM:
Normally I won’t answer questions like these, but I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say…. no.

OV: Is there a reason you wrote this book as YA instead of adult? It seems like it would make an awesome adult book.
MRM:
I think you’re right; this series would work really well as an adult series… and a movie. Just saying Hollywood, I’m open to talk.

I did contemplate back and forth who I was writing this book for a while. At times, it seemed like it wasn’t suitable for younger audiences, but in the end, I chose the YA market because of reach.

I had a vision for this series that won’t fully be exposed until the series is complete, but I wanted it to be enjoyed by everyone. Although you can’t please everyone, and there are some people who just don’t enjoy it at all, I’m hoping that long term, I can take people of all ages on an adventure. I wanted this story to appeal to the broadest audience possible, and since I’m an adult, and I love reading YA, I knew there were countless others out there that enjoyed it too. Writing in this market has allowed me to reach both the young adults, and the older audience as well. If I can bring you inside a different world, and help you escape reality, if only for a moment, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I didn’t want any limitations to whose imagination I could steal away.

That being said, when writing in the YA genre, you have boundaries. Boundaries that as I writer, I am hoping to break free of and explore once this series is complete.

OV: After Rayna’s shift we don’t see Jonathan again. Will we see him again in future books?
MRM:
I had a hard time with this when I was writing Shift. In the earlier drafts, I had more content afterward with Jonathan, but I just didn’t feel like it fit. I know some were confused by it, but it just didn’t jive with the story. It threw off the pacing, and Rayna’s voice kept screaming in my head that she just wasn’t ready for that. There will be more Jonathan in the next book and you’ll get to see how the relationship with him and Rayna is and evolving. Whether or not those changes are positive or negative, that remains to be seen… for you anyways. I know what’s going on.

OV: When is the next book in the series being released?
MRM:
I try not to be too specific with release dates when it’s this early in the process, because I don’t like to push them back, but I am aiming for a December 2012 release. Of course, that is subject to change depending on how this story goes. I’m just about 25% done with the first draft, so I have a long way to go, but I am hoping before the end of the year to have book 3 available.

OV: How many books will be in the series?
MRM:
I have struggled with this for a while now. Originally it was going to be a trilogy, then inspiration struck and if I followed certain story arcs, it would fill a five or six book series. I was unsure about that because although the new ideas excited me, I didn’t want to run the risk of going “too long” with the series.

In the end, I settled on middle ground. I’m currently working on the third book, but there is so much to cover I’m almost positive it will run four. I don’t want to have a giant third book to close it off, so I’m confident I will be able to tie everything up nicely in a four book series.

OV: Have you ever wrote something, reread it and thought, “Wow! That was awesome!”
MRM:
Although I play the slightly over-confident card on Twitter for entertainment purposes, such is not the case in real life. I’m extremely critical of myself, and my work, so I find myself doubting my abilities more often than not.

When I’m writing, I question everything, but every once in a while, I do write a scene and then I stop and think “Where did that come from? That was great!” Then I doubt myself and nervously wait while my wife reads it and tells me what she thinks. She’s my sound board so everything gets her approval.

OV: How long have you been writing?
MRM:
I’ve only been writing for a few years. Exiled is actually the first book, or story of any kind, that I’ve ever tried to write. I know you’re never supposed to take your first book to publication, because you haven’t perfected the craft, but I had to follow through on it. It had a life of its own that pulsed inside my imagination, and I just couldn’t’ let it go.

I’ve come a long way since Exiled, and I think that’s noticeable, so I’m interested to see how far things have come when I start the new project I’ve been brainstorming, but that won’t happen until this series is complete.

OV: Which of your works are you most proud of?
MRM:
Right now, I’d have to say it’s the third book in the series. That might seem silly because it’s only a quarter done and in first draft form, but I’m actually so proud of it so far. I know where the book is going, I’m thrilled with how it’s getting there, and I think it’s all because of depth.

Exiled is very intense and full of action. Chase is young, angry, and he responds to everything with a closed fist and a bull in a china shop attitude. Given his life so far, I think that is fitting for him.

In Shift, you see a new side of Chase. He’s still the headstrong kid you know, but he’s not fighting against everything and everyone quite as hard. He still loses his temper, he is ruled by his emotions, and the repercussions of that are clear. You see Willy in a whole new light, and we experience so much more alongside Rayna, and I really loved that.

As I write the third book however, the depth of Shift progresses. You learn so much more about the characters you’ve fallen in love with, and you’re seeing not only major growth from them, but you’re getting to see how that growth is achieved, especially on Chase’s part. Because this story is told from his perspective, you see his thought process and how he breaks things down. Although action does not take a backseat, it’s a refreshing change to see him developing and maturing from an angry, unruly boy to a man on the verge of self-control.

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One Response to “Author Interview & Book Review: Shift by MR Merrick”

  1. […] confirmed. You’re packages will be going out later this week! Today I’m featured on Obscured Vixen with an author interview containing some questions I haven’t answered before, and with that, is a review of SHIFT! I […]

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