Dire Wolves. Beware.

Dirus by LJ Vitanza

An Author’s Journey Through Time

AJ: What story did you read that kickstarted your journey to one day write your own story?

LVIt wasn’t a story, but a high school teacher who motivated me to write. Unlike the rest of my peers, I wrote horror stories in my creative writing class. Each time I turned one in, my teacher’s eyes grew with excitement. It was that look that inspired me to write.

AJ: Tell me the journey that DIRUS took to go from an idea to a printed book sitting on my table.

LVI originally started writing Arctodus (the sequel) and grew attached to Sam. I wanted her to have a bigger role. It made more sense to start a series with her and have her help the characters in Arctodus. So, I shelved that book and started from scratch with Sam and the dire wolves.

AJ: What was the hardest part of finishing this story?

LVThe hardest part of writing Dirus was creating a good ending (hopefully, I succeeded). I’ve read so many incredible books that left me shaking my head after rushing through or creating unrealistic endings.

AJ: What bit of this story still excites you every time you think about writing it?

LVMy favorite scene was when Sam entered the field to retrieve the tracking collar from a dead wolf. I tried to capture her fear through the sights and sounds around her, walking alone, and her questioning what she couldn’t see. Sam knew better but went out anyway.

AJ: Why creature horror? Specifically why dire wolves?

LVWhen I was five, my mom took me to see Jaws in the theater. It terrified me! I fear being stalked and eaten alive. That moment set me up for life!

Every year, we’re rediscovering “extinct” creatures on Earth. We know just as little about the land as we do about the ocean. I thought, what if dire wolves still existed? Central Canada and its thick forests would be the perfect place for them to survive undetected. When a pack of grey wolves left Yellowstone and were caught on trail cameras in Colorado without anyone knowing about their journey, I thought a pack of dire wolves could do the same thing, traveling from Canada to northern Wyoming.

AJ: What should readers who take the DIRUS journey be on the lookout for? Or put another way, what advice would you give readers of your novel?

LVSit back and enjoy the ride! I tried to create non-stop action. One pet peeve I have with other creature horror books is the long lag between attacks. Maneaters don’t stop eating so the characters can engage in drama and figure out a solution.

AJ: Last question, what did writing DIRUS teach you that you hope will aid you on future projects?

LVWriting Dirus was an entirely new and challenging project for me. Writing is the easiest part. When self-publishing, the author has to be an editor, designer, and marketer. Books are expected to have a certain page color, font style, and size. To protect our work, we pay to have it copyrighted and filed with the Library of Congress. We even purchase ISBN numbers so stores can carry our product. Having done this once, I’m hoping the next ones are easier to publish. But, despite the amount of work involved, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!

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