About the Author:
Jim Ringel lives in Boulder. When not writing fiction, he can be found hiking, biking, and skiing in the Colorado mountains, or sitting still and meditating at home. He also does a lot of reading, and is a long-standing member of Denver’s Lighthouse Literary Workshop.
( 1) What inspired you to write "Wolf"?
Well, I have a few favorite authors who inspired me―Graham Greene, Thomas Berger, Patricia Highsmith, Walker Percy, Kafka, and contemporaries too, like Ben Whitmer and Megan Abbott. One thing about them. They write page-turners. Books that keep you guessing what's going to happen next, all the while trapping you into a world you normally wouldn't go into, building to something bigger. Some bigger life lesson. I have always loved books like that.
And then I just thought about traditional werewolf stories from when I was a kid, and didn't they get it wrong? What's so bad about evolving into being another creature? Why live a strict and civilized life? I wanted to break the werewolf code. I wanted to suggest it's liberating and life-fulfilling to devolve into our animal state. I thought if I could learn from some of the greats, and write a page turner about a man coming to face his animal side, that could be a world worth knowing.
( 2 ) When did you decide to become an author?
The nuns in school always said I was a good writer, but that was at an age when I'd stopped listening to nuns. Later, after working in television, and then sales, I started writing again, but not too seriously. Then I came down with cancer, and I felt this huge hole in my life. I started asking―what is the thing I'd really regret if I were to die right now. The answer hit me like a sack of marbles―a true wakeup―you never wrote anything, you dummy. That's when I focused. That's when I started to make writing not something I did in my spare time, but something I did every day before all the rest of life came down on me. It's hard. You own less. You don't get all the things that come with having a successful career. It can be lonely. But nothing makes me happier than writing. Nothing.
( 3) Where did the idea for Johnny Wolfe's character come from?
I've worked in sales, and as a regular old American, have dealt with salesmen all my life. America is a sales culture. It's a gamble, and a hustle, and a lonely pursuit of trying to best the other guy. So I thought a salesman might allow for a unique insight into contemporary life, and be a good hero. A guy scraping to get by. Selling to survive. Then I got the idea, what is it about salesmen―bad salesmen really―that is truly characteristic of the trade. It's that they don't know what they're selling. Their job is just to sell, without really understanding what. Just the finesse of selling. So I thought, yeah, that's Johnny's conflict. His one last shot at survival is to sell something he truly doesn’t understand. His quest is to find out what product he's selling so he can make a big commission. Then he finds the product he's trying to sell is potentially the very thing that could destroy him. I liked that idea.
( 4) What do you hope readers will get from reading "Wolf"?
I hope readers get scared. I hope readers get personal insight. And they hope they get a laugh out of it too.
(5 ) Why did you decide to write of a world where dogs are extinct?
If you live with enough dogs in your life, you get fascinated with how wild they are. Yes, sure, they're domesticated, we can pet them, teach them tricks, feed them under the dinner table. But when we're not looking, dogs do all sorts of bizarre things, bad habits, sneaky stuff, right there in the living room.
As humans, as Americans, we romanticize the wild. But really, we've lost all sense of it. So why not a city where dogs are gone, and man is struggling to maintain the horrors of civilized society. I wondered about a world like that. What would it be like?
Then I wondered what about a man who missed his dead pet. And wanted to be her, because deep down, that's who he really is. Wild. Facing up to who you are, that's scary. Like Jean Jacque Rousseau said. Stop living civilized. Open up to our wild side. It's more honest.
(6 )What genre would you put "Wolf" in? Is it Paranormal? Sci-fi?
That's a tough one. It's dystopian, that's sure. It's sci-fi, or at least speculative fiction. A little bit horror. I like to call it a sales noir, but people look at me funny when I say that.
( 7)I'm currently working on a Buddhist detective series that takes place in the speculative worlds of the Buddhist six realms. The Hell realm, the Hungry Ghost realm, the Animal realm, the Human realm, the Warring Titan realm, and the God realm. Each book takes place in a different realm where the detective must solve a crime, learn a lesson and then die so that he may pass onto the next realm, getting closer and closer to enlightenment.
(8) What is your writing process like?
I walk around a lot when I write. I act scenes out, and then type them out. I outline, and then I write the chapters and blow up the outline as new ideas come, as my characters become more real. Then I outline again, because without an outline I'd just keep walking around with no place to go.
(9) Do you have a favorite character from "Wolf"?
Well, I got to love them all, right, because they're my babies? But I really enjoy Lana Jackson, the devious, manipulative, expert salesperson of a boss. She's like a composite of all these persuasive people I've met in life, who I never wanted to be persuaded by, because they're just so awful, and yet by whom I was completely persuaded because they were just so damn good at it.
(10) Do you have any advice for new authors and people thinking about publishing?
Open yourselves up to the stuff you won't normally open up to. Read everything. Mostly listen to everything. Listen to the obvious stuff, like music, all kinds of music. But also speeches, sermons, teachings, the breeze, distant trains passing. Train yourself to hear the rhythm in everything. Because in the end, it's the rhythms that keep people reading. Have a good plot, have interesting characters, have strong language, those things are necessary―but what the reader connects with in any moment of reading is the rhythm. If you can feel the rhythm, you can write a pretty good story.
I hope you all enjoy this. For now Trisha signing off.