Shells chats with author Daniel Shields
How did the idea of Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey come about?
Hi Shells, thank you for granting me this interview. The idea for Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey started back in 2006 when I co-founded a billiards company called LiquidWick Pool Cues. My two favorite animals have always been sharks and wolves. I came up with the idea to bring the billiards term “Pool Shark” to life and since every good action / adventure story needs the main character to have a buddy, it was easy for me to add in Wolf. The book started slow but then the writing took on a life of its own. It took about two years to complete between edits and rewrites.
Each character that is an animal in the book takes on such extreme human personalities. Were any of those characters based on real life people?
As writers, I believe we consciously and unconsciously absorb the world around us. The animal characters in Shark and The Wolf: Predators and Prey are not based on any one particular person but rather a collection of the types of people the characters needed to be. When I started the book I had some rough ideas about the main characters such as a hero (Shark) villains (Shaw and Old Jack) buddy (Dog Z Boy) side kick (Wolf) and love interest (Vixen) but the really cool thing was that as the story developed the characters took on personalities of their own. I remember having some trouble during rewrites with some of the graphic violence that takes place and especially the end of the prologue and the fate of the baby elephant. I thought about having a different outcome for the small little guy but as I thought about it from the perspective of the character Shaw, who happens to be a cold hearted psychopath, he would not have done anything different. I decided that I had to stay true to the story and characters even if personally, like I hope the reader will experience, I had hoped things could have turned out a little different. In stories as in life, sometimes things just don’t turn out as we plan.
Every author I have talked to and being one myself, we always say a little of us goes into every piece of writing we do. In that case, which character out of Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey would you say is most like you and why?
I would like to say I would be Shark: The hero, the good guy, the man’s man, the ladies man, the man (or fish in this instance) that is willing to sacrifice his own life to save those of his friends, BUT – although I like to believe I possess some of these attributes not the least of which is a ladies man (only kidding) I would have to say I’m much more like the character of Wolf. When we first meet his character, he is standing in the shadows, observing the events, much like a writer might do. Wolf is a very cool mysterious loner who as the reader will learn, possesses the same strong convictions about protecting other animals as Shark. He makes a great side kick and also happens to have a hot panther girlfriend named Cahira. Yes, Wolf is part me and I would not mind being part Wolf.
I would like to share one of my favorite scenes with Wolf and Cahira. This takes place just before things go horribly wrong:
As Wolf walked on the sand, the sounds of reggae music filled the air. The music gave a little party bounce to his step. He felt thirsty, and it was happy hour. Those two factors added up to one thing in his mind—cold beer.
Wolf made his way up the two wooden steps and headed straight for the bar. Cahira was talking with Frenchie and stopped as she noticed him. On her way over to greet him, she grabbed a cold beer out of a cooler.
“It’s good to see the handsome wolf again,” she said as she opened the beer bottle and handed it to him.
“It’s good to see the beautiful panther Cahira again,” he said, smiling. He took a big, long sip of his beer. “You know this is my favorite time of the day. And you are my favorite part of the view.”
“You do know how to make a lady feel special,” Cahira said, blushing. “It’s just that I’ve heard almost every line in the book.”
“Who says it’s a line?” Wolf whispered.
Cahira laughed. “All right, I was wrong. Now I’ve heard almost every line in the book.”
Wolf continued playing with her. “So what you’re saying is that by me giving you a line and saying it was not a line, it is actually a line in itself.”
Cahira laughed and looked at him, a little confused. “Something like that I guess.” She leaned in close, almost touching him, and Wolf found the scent of her breath more intoxicating than the taste of the beer. She continued, “But you know, you don’t need to use any lines on me. Just the way you whisper my name in the darkness of the night is enough to send shivers through my body.”
Wolf grinned so wide it actually hurt his jaw. “Should I leave the door unlocked again tonight?” he asked with confidence.
“Only if you want trouble,” she said coyly, continuing to look at him as she moved across the back of the bar.
“I live for trouble,” Wolf said boisterously. “Trouble is my middle name.”
How challenging was it to write Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey?
The book took two years to complete through many edits and rewrites. I think the biggest challenge was having the patience to let the story develop on its own. There were points where I thought “Where is this thing headed?” and like a reader might do, wanted to fast forward to see the ending. After a while, the story took on a life of its own and started to guide me in the direction it needed to go. Did I know that it would wind up in Las Vegas inside the amphitheater of The Serengeti Resort and Casino? Yes. Did I know that there would be a big final battle Shark would be forced to endure? Yes. But – it’s the journey the characters take along the way that is the true soul of the story. Patience to let the story develop on its own was both a challenge and reward.
Your passion for the sport of Billiards is obvious in this book. How did you get started with that and how does it influence you in your everyday life and writing?
As I stated above, In 2006, I co-founded a billiards company called LiquidWick Pool Cues. My business partner and I actually invented a pool cue called “The LiquidWick True Stick 24oz Power Break Cue” that helps add power to the pool player’s break. We own the patent on its “phase shifting technology” and currently sell it online at www.liquidwick.com. Needless to say, I’m very close to the sport of billiards, I love the game and find the atmosphere of some pool halls to be dark and mysterious. Not bad settings for a novel. When I decided to bring the billiards term “Pool Shark” to life as the world’s only Great White pool playing shark, the character of Shark started to develop. He also happens to be the main attraction in the world’s most brutal show. It’s been a wild ride! Here is a short excerpt:
As he approached the entrance to the big tent, Shark was shocked when he looked up and noticed a twenty-foot-tall circus bill, a huge advertisement with a giant cartoon-like depiction of him. The caricature distorted the size of his head and showed him with a mean-looking smile. The colorful poster had a caption that read:
“Come One – Come All To See – The Only Great White Shark in Captivity.”
The cover is very striking. Who came up with the idea for the cover art and who did the illustration?
Thank you for your compliment on the cover. I like it how came out but have to admit that I stressed about its design for sometime. When I first had the idea for Shark & The Wolf, it was just that, a character that was a pool shark that had a side kick that was a wolf. I went to a local T-shirt place in Albuquerque, described my idea to an artist and then paid to have the illustrations drawn up. They went through several revisions and then wound up with what you see on the cover today. I used Createspace to both format the book and do the cover. I provided Createspace with the illustration and then described that I wanted the characters placed against a sunset over water with palm tree leaves hanging in from the sides. I wanted it to appear to the book cover viewer that they were looking at the cover image from the edge of land, at the characters and then past the characters to the beautiful sunset over water in the distance. My hope is that the cover can pull the reader in enough to at least start the book. If they do and they can handle something a bit off the beaten path then I think they will be in for quite the exotic journey.
Can we expect more from the characters in Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey for future works?
I have a few ideas bouncing around and would like to think at some point Shark & The Wolf fans will meet these characters again. Vixen is always up to something and is bound to get herself into some trouble. As you know, Shark would never hesitate to run to her rescue.
If you had to say one thing you wanted readers to get from reading the adventures of Shark, Vixen, Dog Z, Old Jack, Gills and the others what would it be?
Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey is an allegorical novel about the exploitation of animals for the mere purpose of human sustenance and entertainment. The book actually brings the billiards term “Pool Shark” to life. Shark, the main character, also happens to have one hell of a killer smile. The story takes place in a world where certain species of animals have evolved both intellectually and physically side by side with humans. In its own small way I like to think it gives a voice to the other species we share this planet with.
The book brings the reader on a wild journey from Africa, to Key West, Fiji, South America and finally Las Vegas. I’ll be the first to admit that it does contain some graphic violence. And all I can say about that is, the world we live in is a violent place. The sub-title Predators and Prey says it all.
At the end of the day, my hope is that the reader can let themselves be swept up into the exotic world the story takes place in. If they do that, then I truly believe they will be taken for a ride on the Wild Side!
Where can people find out more about you?
Readers can always contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org Shark & The Wolf: Predators and Prey has its own fan page on Facebook and is available on Amazon in both kindle and print editions. (It would make a GREAT holiday gift! – nothing wrong with a little self promotion) It’s also available online at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I have included links below.
Thank you so much for the interview Shells, these questions were a blast to answer.
Posted by Shells W