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Bonnie Vanak | The Healing Power of Romance

November 30, 2007

My December Nocturne, The Empath, is dedicated to my dog, Tia. Someone I know thought that was strange. I didn’t. Tia wasn’t just a pet, but a loyal friend.

One year ago, Tia died from liver cancer. When my husband and I got the diagnosis, our hearts broke. Our wonderful, lively pet who barked with joy when we came home, used to howl when my husband howled with her, jumped in my lap when I wrote and rested her head on the laptop (ever try to write with a 24-pound Shih Tzu hogging the keyboard?) was dying. Typical of Tia, as I sat there crying, she pushed her nose into my face and tried to cheer me up.

I grieved, and began to write.

The story became The Empath. It started with a woman who tries to find a cure for the mysterious disease killing her beloved dog. Gradually the story shifted. The woman developed into Maggie, a veterinarian. She was a Draicon, a werewolf, and the pack’s long lost empath, unaware of her ability to heal. The hero strolled into the story, a powerful warrior werewolf tormented by a dark secret, who longed for peace but forsake it to kill the enemy destroying his pack. The enemy became the Morphs. They were former Draicon who embraced evil to gain power and shapeshifted into any animal form. They turned into army ants, a fire-breathing dragon and bees to attack Maggie and Nicolas.

Maggie finally discovers her ability to heal through touch, and realizes the person in greatest need of emotional healing is Nicolas, her mate. Then I created the mating lock, in which they come together sexually in a pure moment of communion, and exchange thoughts, emotions and powers, the two halves made whole.

I wrote non-stop, sometimes sitting on the back patio, Tia resting her head between her paws while lying at my feet. The story became my balm those months while I visited the vet for new medication to keep Tia comfortable, experimented with food and coaxed her to eat when her appetite waned, and waited, watched and prayed. Not for a miracle, but for strength when the time would finally come for us to make the hardest decision of all.

That decision came December 7. She was in extreme pain. It was the hardest thing in the world, harder even when my mom was dying of cancer. My husband drove the car, as I cradled my whimpering friend in my arms. When our vet went to give her the shot, Tia reached up and licked my husband’s face.

And then she was gone. It was so quiet, except for the sounds of all of us crying.

In The Empath, Maggie’s tremendous powers cure her beloved dog, and heal Nicolas’s spirit, giving him the peace he’s sought for ages. It’s pure romance fiction, a world where the impossible becomes possible, and dreams and hopes come true with the help of love and magic.

For me, that’s the healing power of romance. When all around you is falling apart, and your heart is breaking, you can create a world in which everything turns out all right. And where a friend who was loyal to the end lives on forever in the pages of your book.

In memory of our beloved Tia. (Nov. 1995-Dec. 7, 2006)

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