SMILODON is about a giant cat that goes on the rampage in an old abandoned game preserve. Wild animal tracker Jason Bristol teams up with beautiful wildlife biologist Norah Phelps as they track this man-eating predator across the wilderness of north central Idaho.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
SMILODON was originally conceived about five years ago but I was working on other projects so I only had time to jot down notes—a scene or bits of conversation—when they popped into my head. I began in earnest six months ago.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I’ve always found the subgenre of creature fiction entertaining and the stories—whether in book version or movie—never fail to capture the public’s attention. Popular examples are JAWS, the ALIEN movies, RELIC, JURASsIC PARK, and many more. I wrote my first creature thriller—THE UNNATURAL—in 2003, just released as an ebook, and SMILODON is my second creature fiction story.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
Actually, very little, though I do enjoy the outdoors and have been known to “drink” every now and then.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
The main characters in SMILODON are Jason Bristol and Norah Phelps. Jason is an ex-boxer and an expert animal tracker, however ever since his son was mauled to death by a grizzly, he’s been haunted by guilt, which he “treats” with alcohol. He’s also suffering from a post traumatic stress disorder and the last thing he wants is to have to track down a man-eating predator that defies belief. Norah Phelps is the wildlife biologist who teams up with Jason after the spate of killings threaten to derail her father’s prize real estate project.
How long did it take you to write your book?
As I mentioned above, once I sat down and decided this was going to get down—about six months.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Before I actually start writing, I usually have a beginning and an end, though the end usually ends up changing by the time I get there. Many times the beginning changes as well. For instance, in SMILODON, I added the prologue only after the entire first draft was done.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?
Most of my research is done through the internet. It’s so easy and convenient to just google whatever it is I’m looking for—i.e. plants, animals, or in the case of SMILODON, the information about saber-toothed cats and the Tunguska meteor explosion over Siberia in 1908. I then fictionalize some facts to fit my story.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
My goal—and it’s the same with all my books—is to write the most entertaining story I know how. If the reader finishes one of my novels and can say he/she was entertained, then I did my job and I’m happy. In SMILODON, I did add a brief statement about the big cats of the world, but that was only to remind readers we are reaching a point when some of these magnificent animals may vanish forever, unless some action is taken to protect them and their environment.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
For me, writing any book is difficult. The hardest thing for me is to make myself sit down and write every day—even if it’s only a page or two. I’m always thrilled once I complete that “crappy” first draft. I find it much easier to rewrite than to face a blank page.