My Inspiration

Colleen Shannon

How I Get My Ideas

Foster Justice

Foster Justice was a strange creation for me, among many such creations such as Sherlock Holmes characters who happen to be werewolves. I moved to LA for over 10 years, and while there I was often cited for parking violations, among them parking outside the hash marks, street-sweeping day, etc. I was also homesick for Texas, including the macho males who populate the state with huge pickups, quarter horses and big ol’ pointy-toed boots. LOL.

One of my favorite chick flicks was Pretty Woman, and one of my favorite funny action comedies was Beverly Hills Cop. So when I was writing a script for UCLA’s Advanced Professional Screenwriting program, Chad Foster was born. I wanted to combine the touching romance of Pretty Woman with the action, suspense and humor of Beverly Hills Cop, and that led to the “what if” of a Texas Ranger (one of whom is among my actual ancestors, and my Texas family tree includes a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence) forced to come to LA to track down his irresponsible younger brother.

The Gentle Beast

“I’ve always loved fairy tales. While they’re obviously fantasy, the best ones carry a core of human truth. Good and evil, joy and sadness, gallantry and cowardice. They almost always have a moral. And of them all, The Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites. How could a story’s moral be more moving than a callous, vain rich man who is brought low by his own unkindness? He earns freedom from his ugliness only when he loves enough to let go. So I went back to one of my favorite periods in England, the Georgian era, and thought how fun it would be to create a story about a family who pass down this legacy of devotion in each of their own personal tales, engraved in a jeweled book that is the tangible proof of the power of love. I wanted to make the heroine worthy of the ruthless beast. So I gave her her own spirit and abilities, and while the beast begins with vengeance in his heart against her and her stepfather, whom he blames for his own father’s death (and rightly so) it’s only when he’s willing to turn the other cheek and let her go that he wins her. And at the end of the book he gives her the jeweled legacy to give to their children. In this way I loosely tie together all three tales though they’re set in different periods with different characters. I had a lot of fun bringing to life one of my favorite subjects–British history. The details I wove in about John Wilkes and his quest for Parliamentary reform and Samuel Johnson’s staunch opposition are as accurate as I know how to make them. In fact, Johnson uses dialogue in the book that stems mostly (probably close to 50%) from his historically direct quotes. I just wove them into the story.”​

Click here to learn more about John Wilkes and his campaign to limit the crown’s power. Thomas Paine in his Rights of Man is partially inspired by Wilkes.

Click here to get details on Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of the classic French fairy tale. While it’s limited obviously in the effects area it has a gorgeous and lyrical fantasy yet reality that few stories later have matched.

The Steadfast Heart

“This Hans Christian Andersen tale is one of the most moving, to me. The Steadfast Tin Soldier stays devoted to his ballerina even to fire and death. I thought it would be interesting to convert that steadfastness to an unexpected place–high Regency society. A wealthy earl falls in love with the ultimate misalliance, Chantal. She’s a penniless French ballerina. His stern mother does everything within her considerable power to stop the match when she learns he intends to marry the girl. She’s successful for many years, totally unaware that in banishing Chantal, she’s banishing her own grandson. Telling neither of them she’s with child, Chantal flees to the continent to become a world class, celebrated ballerina. When she meets the earl again years later, she pretends not to know him. To protect herself, yes, because she never quit loving him, but most of all, to protect the son he doesn’t realize exists. As is customary with me, I love to create powerful secondary characters, and Chantal herself isn’t aware she has a formidable ally–her own real father, one of the wealthiest men in England, whom never knew.”

Click here to read the original tale here.

Just for fun, Click here celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas.

Prince of Kisses

“Based on the Frog Prince fairy tale, this story of two mismatched characters, an ice princess and a Frenchman (or in British parlance, any Frenchman is a Frog) who is the unacknowledged son of Sir Cecil Rhodes, the famous British explorer and exploiter of Africa, African diamonds in particular because he started the de Beers company. He also endowed the famous Rhodes Scholarship named for him. So I decided to use as fodder for this tale one of my other interests, jewelry design. I made the heroine heiress to a famous jewelry studio somewhat like Tiffany’s today, and she has the jeweled book passed down from Kimball to Kimball as her inspiration. However, she claims she’ll never wed and has a distaste for men. Devlin literally climbs into her life through a window because he’s out to steal her jewels. It was fun trying to sustain romantic conflict without him being able to kiss her, because he will transform in her eyes when he kisses her. Cecil Rhodes appears briefly. ”

Click here to read the original fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. ​

Click here ​to read about the real Cecil Rhodes.

Heaven’s Rogue

My description: “I was taking a long road trip west with my family in 1999. The news was full of what it meant to human kind to actually live to see a new millennium. As we were viewing the wonders of Yosemite, Seattle, San Francisco and the like, I grew contemplative about the subject while we drove and I read (I never go anywhere without a book including short trips around town). I thought it would be cool to capture where we’ve been and where we might be headed given how profound the subject was. But could I make it fun? So I wondered what could really capture the humanity of man through the ages. Michelangelo’s David was the best example of human kind’s hubris and humility. So I thought–what if he came to life in modern times? Would he be an ideal or a flawed human? And everything in the trilogy devolved from there. These have been my only published time travels so far but I much enjoyed writing them and hope my readers enjoy reading them half as much. Naturally I wanted to be as accurate as possible so I did a great deal of research on the period, particularly Michelangelo and Da Vinci. I’ve shared some links below I hope you’ll find interesting.”

Click here to enjoy this 3D virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel

Click here to watch this free BBC documentary about Michelangelo, part one

Heaven’s Hero

“In this sequel to Heaven’s Rogue, two of the secondary characters from the first book have their own story. Hard bitten, cynical cop Nick has to follow his younger brother Ernie through the magic mirror into the Renaissance to save him from being skewered by a knight. In the process, he finds the best part of himself again and learns that despite his bitterness against the cops who cashiered him from the force, there are still battles to be won and lives to save. In the process he brings home the female knight, Isabella, who steals his heart and unites with Leonardo da Vinci to fight their common enemy.”

Click here to watch a free BBC documentary about Leonardo da Vinci

Click here to see a tour of the Mona Lisa

Heaven’s Warrior

“In this final time travel of the trilogy, which is as yet unpublished, the action ends as it should, with Nick and Isabella’s descendant fighting her own battles in the third millennium for human kind. Rafe, the cynical ex SEAL who is featured in both of the above novels, has done enough killing and vows never to fight again. However, he finds that working with Nick in security makes him restless. When he visits Ernie one day, the magic mirror calls to him and shows him where humankind will be a thousand years from now: a world far away in the solar system. Human kind has evolved into empaths who are brilliant artists, engineers and inventors but abhor any kind of violence. They’re invaded by a ruthless race and about to be annihilated or absorbed by forced breeding. Without hesitation, Rafe steps through to their time to teach them again to fight. In the process, he falls in love with Nick and Isabella’s descendant and while he doesn’t know it, their children will unite the warring galaxy into one strong coalition. A fitting legacy for the descendants of Michelangelo’s David.”

Click here to read an interesting article about David’s descendants

Click here To read about the rigor of Navy SEAL training

The Hawk’s Lady

” Back in the dark ages when Reagan was president, I followed with interest his conflict with Libya and Gaddafi. For awhile, Gaddafi exacted what amounted to tribute from various nations.. I’ve always been a student of history and I remembered from early American history that we’ve had problems with countries in that area of the Middle East since we formed our first Navy back in the late 1700’s. In fact the famous warship, the USS Constitution, participated in battles against the Barbary States. The debate was the same then: tribute and armed peace or outright war? The famous Marine Corps hymn even mentions this area, “to the shores of Tripoli…” So I got the idea of having an American sailor agitating with other newly American conservatives over the need for a navy. He voluntarily goes undercover as a Barbary pirate to prove the dey of Algiers is behind much of the piracy going on in the area and to find his sister who has been kidnapped and put in a harem. In the process, he comes across the yacht of a willful British heiress. She takes him at face value at first, as a golden barbarian who has divested himself of any attachment to king or country in the quest for power and riches. She doesn’t remember him as the awkward American heir come to London for some polish, or that he admired her and she cut him short with contempt. The roles will be reversed now as she’s his captive. He remembers her well, however, and at first, at least, not fondly: He plays his own games with her, but cannot break her spirit and admires her for it. He finds he still loves her and no matter whether she wears chains at his feet, it’s he who is her captive. I bring in many historical aspects here such as the debate against a strong federal government and a navy, Washington’s death, the details of xebecs (the Barbary pirate preferred sailing ship) and the famous battle of the USS Constitution in the Mediterranean. While this book is a bit more flowery and detailed than what I’d write today, I am proud of the way I brought an interesting slice of history to life against the emotional backdrop of star crossed lovers fighting their love for one another while they fight for freedom.”

Surrender the Night

“If Regency readers are familiar with the real Hellfire Club, the secret society formed by roues and cads in London of the early 1800’s, they’ll know the seeds for the inspiration for this book. Devon attends the dissolute club because he’s curious about the legendary beauty being auctioned off that night. The minute he claps eyes on Katrina, he recognizes her as the only woman who’s ever scorned his advances. He duels to win her. Again, be warned as it is old fashioned in that it has a very forceful seduction scene early in the book, but the hero thinks she’s a kept woman, and does not realize she’s innocent until too late. Because he’s an earl and she’s a baker’s granddaughter, he will only keep her as his mistress. While he seduces her into his arms and steals into her heart, she has a spine of iron and too much pride to remain his kept woman, especially when she finds out she’s pregnant. Knowing this will tie her to him forever and she could even lose the child to him, she flees into a very uncertain future. It is his selfish treatment of her that will be his making because when she leaves, he realizes too late that not only does he passionately love her, he faces a very lonely future without her. He moves heaven and earth to find her…and will go through hell to win her back.”

Golden Fires

“I’ve always loved archaeology and in fact my BA from UT Austin is in that field. The painstaking detail, the dangers of working in the jungle or the desert, especially for early archaeologists, are great fodder for fiction writers. My two favorite eras of study were Egyptian and Mayan history. I chose Mayan history here and loosely based events on the discovery of the tomb of Pacal, the King of Palenque in the Yucatan. So I combined two loves in this story of the daughter of a famous archaeologist who goes on expedition to investigate the mysterious builders of amazing New World pyramids. As she excavates, she has to learn too the rigors of the human heart in her attraction to their rugged guide Jeremy. He has to save her numerous times from her own headstrong acts and combines his own time between wanting to tie her up or kiss her…”

Trelayne Inheritance

“When I was asked by my editor to write a gothic for a new line for Dorchester, I gravitated to a werewolf story because there’s something poignant to me about the duality of a cursed man who can’t control his savage impulses. And then having love be his redemption but in a romance with a happy ending it gets a bit trickier to make it both believable and moving. I’m happy with the way The Wolf of Haskell Hall turned out but to my surprise Shelley Holmes was also born. I’m an organic writer, that is I start with a simple idea, usually a paragraph and a picture of the main characters in my head, so the way the books end are as unknown to me as to my readers in the beginning. But after I created her, I liked her so much I wanted to keep her around in the other books I’d contracted for, so she was born as a thinking werewolf who could control her transformations. That’s done all the time now but not as much when I wrote it.

So it was logical for the next book to be about vampires to give her a worthy villain to fight. I also enjoyed making her a psychic investigator at the same time. Modern forensics were just being explored in the late Victorian era so it was fun incorporating them into my books. I did a lot of research to do so. Thus The Trelayne Inheritance was born, with a young female scientist and a very dangerous hero with a deadly agenda that she, of course, complicates.”

Click here to read an interesting article about the lore of the vampire, including a clip from the original and still watchable Bela Lugosi classic Dracula…

Click here to watch an entertaining video about the sexy vampire trope.


One advantage/disadvantage of being a fiction writer with many varied interests is that I’ve seldom written the same book twice. Settings may be similar, even plots, but the story and characters are always targeted to who they are, where the conflict takes place, as accurate to the history of the moment as I could make them.

Catspell was really fun for me because I’d never written a shape-shifter book and I love big cats. My BA is in Archaeology and I also love Egyptian Archaeology so it was a natural tie in. I’m using it with a modern twist in the contemporary virus thriller I’m writing. Plus making the heroine somewhat of an invalid who gains strength and matures with her character was a challenge. I also really enjoyed giving Shelley her own romantic lead who was the first to match her in intelligence and abilities. The fourth and final book I planned would have been her story, probably a time travel, but it’s another idea that formed and didn’t finish. I have many of those. Like most fiction writers, it’s not the ideas that are hard; it’s finding time to finish them all…if you go to the free reads page you’ll find several of those including a treatment I wrote for a film I’d like to do myself one day.

Click here to read an article about saving the Amur tigers.

Click here to read an interesting article about the African Lion.

Click here to see a book portraying a fascinating true story about a Russian wildlife officer who had to track down and kill a maneater.

Travis Justice

“My sons and I took a trip to San Antonio to see a Samurai exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art called ‘Lethal Beauty.’ The first exhibit was a Samurai sword from the 1300’s. I froze and my mouth dropped open. It was both a very dangerous weapon and a work of art. It’s hard to even justly describe it as it’s one of those things you have to see in person. I’d always been fascinated by the Samurai. Even read some of The Three Rings and knew about the 47 Ronin. As we drove home I thought how cool and challenging it would be to combine a female trained in martial arts and katanas in a modern Texas Ranger story. Not to mention a challenge…I think I had a couple reviews complaining the two cultures were too different but when my editor finished the book she told me I combined them ‘beautifully’ though she’d been skeptical I could when I pitched it to her verbally. Again, lots of research was involved especially when I decided to make her family legacy a Masamune blade, probably the greatest sword maker in the history of the world. He worked in the 1300’s yet his blades are still some of the strongest and most cherished ever made and sell accordingly. It’s my favorite of the three and it also gets dark toward the end but the ending is inevitable to believe all that went before. It’s one of my few books I’d like to turn into a script because it has a great deal of action and suspense and the romance makes it even more emotional,”

Sinclair Justice

“When my Kensington editor read my novel version (written first as a script for UCLA’s advanced professional screenwriting course) of Foster Justice, she asked for two more modern Texas Ranger stories. I’d recently moved home to Austin from LA and had my Master of Real Estate Development degree. While there I worked with multiple historical properties because I loved them and wanted to save them. The leap from make believe world building to real world building was more natural than it might seem to be on first glance because they both require a similar skill set. So I decided for the second book I’d make my heroine a new Preservation Officer for the Parks Department in DC which manages the historic designation process. I needed a way to combine that with an exciting Texas Ranger story. My mother had lived in Amarillo and I knew it had some lovely old buildings so Ross Sinclair and Emm Rothschild were born. As usual I started out with just an opening scene and things flowed from there. I’d been concerned about human trafficking for many years and knew most people were unaware that the numbers of people forced into the sex and or/labor trade are much higher now than in human history. So again I did tons of research on FBI statistics and the like. By the end, the book became a bit darker than I intended but to accurately portray the hideous trade I had to make it real. It’s still a good romance, I think and has received many positive reviews at Amazon. And no, I haven’t paid for any of them lol.”