Thursday, June 24, 2010

"The Shadow of a Wolf" Author, Sam Cross is visiting today!

I’ve got Sam Cross here with me on the “Show” today. Sam, how are you? Thanks for coming by!

Thanks for asking me on the show and letting me talk about my book!

Interviews about novels are pretty much standard, so I want to shake things up a bit. Instead of getting right into the writing, I want to talk about you first.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, first of all I should let you know that Sam Cross isn’t my real name, it’s a pen name. Under my real name, Geoffrey Knight, I write gay adventure erotics, but it’s a VERY different genre to my straight thrillers and I felt I needed a new identity for my them, so that people wouldn’t go into these stories expecting something completely different. I currently live in Sydney, but I love to travel (I think all Australians do, it comes from living so far away from the rest of the world). I’m a big movie fan, a huge animal lover, I enjoy a nice meal with a glass of wine, and I’m completely addicted to writing. I think storytelling is one of the most wonderful and important things in the world!

Any fun quirks or habits you’d like to share?

I’m weirdly compulsive about fingerprints on drinking glasses, I’m forever switching glasses or wiping them clean with a napkin. Given the stories I write, people always think I’m trying to wipe away any evidence! Also, I’m one of those tomato sauce (or rather, ketchup) freaks. I pour it over everything. I know most people think that’s disgusting, but I also know there’s a few of you out there who share that obsession! It’s a habit that’s hard to hide at the dinner table.

Other than writing, do you have any aspirations or things you’d like to do in your life time?

As a said earlier I love traveling. Experiencing other cultures and languages and food is something I find irreplacable. The sights, the smells, the sounds. I’d love to cover every continent in the world one day. I’ve done five, only South America and Antartica to go!

When was your first writing attempt? What was it like?

My first writing attempt at a full-length novel was when I was 21. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, so I sat down one day and started writing my first thriller. It was when Twin Peaks was popular so it was kind of inspired by that: a sprawling murder mystery set in a small town with a huge cast of characters. 700 pages later I finished it, and while I was traveling one year one of my friends picked it up and submitted it for a competition judged by Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s Ark which later Spielberg made into Schindler’s List). I didn’t win but I was shortlisted. That was enough for the little writing bug to set up home permanently in my brain.

If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you be; and why?

Oh I love this question!!! I think I’d have to say Superman for a number of reasons. Firstly it’d be AWESOME to spend just one day not having to think about dieting because I don’t think Superman would ever worry about putting on weight. Secondly he’s the only person I know who can walk around in his underwear all day and not only feel confident, but look good too! And thirdly—and most importantly—how cool would it be to fly! Ever since I was a kid I’ve had dreams about being able to fly! I’d dig that!

Can you tell us your favorite childhood book?

My favorite books as a kid were those Choose Your Own Adventure stories. The ones where you weave your way through a story, making decisions about what to do, until you either solved the mystery or met with a very unhappy ending. There were pyramids, aliens, volcanoes, abominable snowmen—the adventures were neverending! I think those stories did a lot to spark my imagination, but looking back I think they also taught me how to make choices in storytelling. As a writer, every page, every word is a choice. Should my hero open the door or hide behind the curtain; should he or she get in the car at gunpoint or run into an alley; should I give them a weapon or make them use their wits to survive? Every line you write, you’re choosing your own adventure.

What one piece of advice has been the most helpful to you in your writing career?

Gosh, I only get to mention one? There’s so many great tips that you receive along the way. Maybe I’ll cheat the question and mention two! Firstly, after I wrote my 700 page novel I switched to writing screenplays. I was majoring in drama and film studies at the time at university and movies have always been a big part of my life. I did a lot of homework into screenwriting and one of the things that has become part of my style is economy of words. When you write a screenplay, you have to be tight with your words. Make every action count, make every line of dialogue up the ante. Never finish a scene without raising the stakes, propelling the plot forward or developing character. That’s something that goes for novel-writing too, and it’s the best lesson there is. The second best piece of advice I’ve been given, by several different editors and publishers, continuously, even as recently as last week: stop with the damn adjectives!!! Someone shouldn’t pull a gun silently, stealthily, determinedly. Rather, “He pulled the gun. Nobody saw him do it. No-one heard him squeeze the trigger.”

Ok, on to your novel. What can you tell us about THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF?

I actually have four thriller out this year—HARM’S WAY, THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF, THE GRACE OF GOD and the soon-to-be-released ON THE OVERGROWN PATH—but I decided to talk about THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF specifically because it’s a big, complex, chunky thriller that took a couple of years to write. It’s also the one book of mine that scared the living daylights out of me while I was writing it. In a nutshell, it centers around three characters: the perfect murderer, the perfect scapegoat and the perfect victim. One is a prostitute who lies and steals but has a heart of gold, one is a Professor of Criminology, and one is a serial killer at large. Needless to say, I’m not going to tell you which of those three characters is the perfect murderer, the perfect victim and the perfect scapegoat. You might be surprised!

What inspired this novel?

As morbid as this sounds, I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers—I think a lot of us are. I’ve read countless biographies on the world’s most infamous killers, and I’m a bit of an expert myself on the subject. In fact, throughout the novel I’ve written lecture notes that the Professor of Criminolgy gives his students, each analysing the crimes and killings of real-life serial killers. This was the part of the novel that frightened me the most. There are so many different sociological and psychological reasons why somebody kills, but I truly believe there’s more to it than that. I listened to a lecture on serial killing once that looked at the theory that serial killings were a different breed of humans. The analogy they gave was dog breeds. A Labrador is very different to a Pit Bull. They’re both still dogs, but instinctively, psychologically, emotionally, they’re very different. As humans we differentiate ourselves based on geology, language, culture, race, religion. I think we’ve got that wrong on a LOT of levels. What we should be doing is trying to understand whether or not there are different ‘breeds’ within our species that we should be studying. Serial killers, pedophiles, etc. These people have compulsions they cannot control. We need to understand why. Goodness, is that too deep and controversial?

In a few sentences, tell us why readers are going to love your novel. What sets it apart?

It’s complex and compelling. The canvas of the story is huge. You won’t know what’s going to happen from one chapter to the next. You won’t know who will live and who will die. You’ll think you’ve guessed the next twist, then the twist itself will twist. Again. And again. And again. And not for the sake of inserting a twist, but it will happen with complete credibility, reason and terror!

Tell us your favorite quote from THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF.

Can I tease you and tell you that I can’t, because it’s the last line and I’ll give everything away. But I truly believe that the only sentence in a novel more important than the first sentence, is the last sentence. It’s got to give you a thrill as you close the back cover. It’s got to make you say, “Now THAT was a great book!” And it’s got to make you think about every other sentence you read before it!

Describe your favorite character from this novel. Does this character reflect you as a person in any way?

She’s an obvious choice, but I do like Holly, the prostitute. I love that she is so incredibly flawed, I think we all are. I go into great detail about how she’s going to shoplift jewelry from a department store so that she can maintain a wealthy upmarket client. And her lies are so spontaneous, yet so considered. She’s a professional liar. And yet all she wants is an honest life. She’s a wonderfully complex character, very real, and you truly want redemption for her despite her flaws. But then again, what is she really: the perfect victim, the perfect scapegoat or the perfect murderer? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Where can we find your novel for sale? Please give us a link to your book and your author page!

THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF is available from Eternal Press at this link
Alternatively its available in print or on Kindle at Amazon at this link
You can also check out my Sam Cross blog at or for the whole gamut of my books, plus lots of fun and sexy stuff check out

One last question, before we let you go, Sam. Will you honor us with a short excerpt from THE SHADOW OF THE WOLF?

I’d love to! This is a scene about the rather gruesome childhood memories of one of the main characters:

These were the sights and sounds and smells of Klaus Irga’s nightmares:
A letterbox view of icy moonlight falling upon the distant escarpment of crippled Carpathian hardwoods, their bare, bony limbs knuckled and knotted together. The uncontrollable thunder of his heart, trying to bash its way out of his chest. Flashes of white streaking through the trees, slowly venturing out in blurred shapes that sniffed at the air and scurried up the blue-tinted field. The thick stink of rotting wood and rusted bolts that wouldn’t give. A strained angle on the farmhouse a short distance away, the sight of his father climbing back up the porch steps and seizing the rope dangling from the porch bell. The terrible clang of the ringing—
The ringing!
—echoing out across the field and into the woods, calling up the feast. Then the sound of the farmhouse door slamming and locking. The glow of the last candle in his parents’ bedroom window being snuffed out. A nearby howl, then another, the sound of a hunger so fierce it hurt. Getting closer. The stench of his own urine as it seeped down his legs and pooled along the splintered boards of the old wood chest. The banging of the lid, slamming against its hinges and padlocks as he tried to force the chest open from inside. His breathing turning into a terrified whimper. A soft pounding against the earth, sweeping in from all directions, the swift, near-silent rush of an army of slaughterers.
And then…
Not a sound. Not a single shimmer of movement from outside the box.
The boy snapped in his breath. Held himself completely still. Utterly silent. For a second his mind told him that he had imagined it all. That his father was right. That he was weak and pathetic and should have been left as food for the wolves when he was a baby.
Then, wide-eyed and trembling, he gathered all the courage he could and edged his face slowly toward the sliver of air beneath the lid, peering out.
Suddenly the night caved in.
Saliva and foam erupted in his mouth and over his cheeks as a giant snout pushed its way as far inside the wood chest as it could, fangs gnashing, jaws cracking, the hot stinking wind of its guts gushing up from its cavernous belly and sucking out the cold air. One snout became a dozen. Claws shredding the wood.
Ripping at the lid.
Trying with all their monstrous might to tear the boy out of the box and pull him apart.


  1. Sounds nice :)

    Lol, I have only seen one choose your own story book, but I sure did enjoy it

  2. Great post. This sounds like an epic. I love a lot of twists and turns, I wish I could write them. Two years to write, I'm sure it's superb. The little tease you gave us with the complex characters are intriguing.
    Good luck with the novel.

  3. Thanks guys! I'm really proud of this book! Thanks for reading!

  4. Oh wow... You like ketchup about as much as me!! I never thought I would meet someone like that. I use to eat it with EVERYTHING.... I have cut back... but oh I love my ketchup... and the ocd, lol.. My sister in law puts her glass down at my house... and two seconds later I have washed it and dried it.

    Hey CJ... *waves frantically** Thanks for having Ms. Cross over!!

  5. Hey C! Thanks for coming...I always love to see your smiling face!

    Blodueud! I've missed you! Hope you've been occupying yourself with a lot of good books lately!

    Lorrie, thanks for taking the time to visit my blog for each and every guest. It means alot to me!



  6. Sam, loved the interview. I think your book sounds exciting and, how could it not, with such a charming, inspirational writer such as yourself!



  7. Oh thanks CJ!! It's been my pleasure, thanks for your great questions! Now I'm off to eat something smothered in ketchup and hope I don't get it all over my computer keyboard - lol!

  8. Very interesting site. Enjoyed the interview, especially the reference to the "skeletal" first draft.