Today we're excited to be part of the blog tour for Stephen Wallenfels's new book Bad Call.
Read on for a author chat, more about Stephen, his book, and a giveaway!
Meet Stephen Wallenfels!
STEPHEN WALLENFELS is an avid outdoorsman from Richland, Washington. He was a freelance writer in the health and fitness field for many years, and now works as the IT and creative director at a large fitness company. Stephen’s first novel, POD, has been published in six languages.
Meet Bad Call!
It was supposed to be epic. During a late-night poker game, tennis teammates Colin, Ceo, Grahame, and Rhody make a pact to go on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park. And poker vows can’t be broken.
The first sign that they should ditch the plan is when Rhody backs out. The next is when Ceo replaces him with Ellie, a girl Grahame and Colin have never even heard of. And then there’s the forest fire at their intended campsite.But instead of bailing, they decide to take the treacherous Snow Creek Falls Trail to the top of Yosemite Valley. From there, the bad decisions really pile up.
A freak storm is threatening snow, their Craigslist tent is a piece of junk, and Grahame is pretty sure there’s a bear on the prowl. On top of that, the guys have some serious baggage (and that’s not including the ridiculously heavy ax that Grahame insisted on packing) and Ellie can’t figure out what their deal is. And then one of them doesn’t make it back to the tent.
Desperate to survive while piecing together what happened, the remaining hikers must decide who to trust in this riveting, witty, and truly unforgettable psychological thriller that reveals how one small mistake can have chilling consequences.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I had a close call with an ax while on a camping trip in college. It was an accident, but if I had been a little slower or closer or a quarter inch shorter—then there might not be a novel titled BAD CALL. Since I was passionate (and still am!) about writing at the time, I wondered what would have happened to my three companions if...well, something bad happened.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Ha! Such a tough question. I like them all for different reasons. I relate to Colin the most, for example I love reading screenplays and have read Good Will Hunting too many times to count. I loved writing in Ellie’s POV because she was so smart and independent. And getting into Ceo’s head was always fun. Grahame was kind of dark and a little scary to write so I tried not to hang out there too long. On the whole, I guess Ceo was my favorite character. He was a force of nature.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. But unlike my other novels, BAD CALL was the first and only title. I thought Disney might change it because titles are a big part of marketing and it may not fit their plan or the genre—but the title didn’t change and I’m glad!
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I love the scene where Colin (Q) finds out that his father had died and he has to fly back to Vermont to be with his mother. On the way to the airport, Ceo takes Colin to the beach to unwind before the redeye flight. I needed to get the emotions right for Colin. It was a defining moment for their friendship. When Ceo said, “Next time your father dies, call me first,” I actually got choked up when I heard those words in my head and wrote them down. I probably wrote that scene ten times at least. A close second is the scene where Colin and Ellie talk about what may or may not have happened in the tent with Ceo the night before. I loved writing the subtext in that scene, and how their relationship took a big step forward. Colin was very happy, and that made me happy, too.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I’ve learned is it’s all about the characters. You can have a great story and plot, but if your characters are flat, or predictable, or too perfect, or too flawed—then the story fails. I love writing dialogue which is a crucial element of character development, and I learned over the years that the difference between good and great dialogue is subtext. That is the secret sauce, IMHO.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The mood. It captures the quiet of woods in winter, and all that red strikes an ominous sense of dread. And that ax in the blood-shadow of a tree—look out, trouble ahead!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017-2018?
I’m looking forward to The Continent by Keira Drake.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2017?
I’m passionate about the environment, survival, and politics, and above all, climate change. So my favorite book of 2017 is American War, by Omar El Akkad. I’m a big fan of M. T. Anderson, so I’m looking forward to reading Landscape with Invisible Hand.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I just finished my last round of edits on Deadfall, another YA survival/suspense thriller, set in the Pacific Northwest. And I’m well into my next novel about a woman that witnesses a murder in the mountains outside Durango, Colorado. She is captured by the killers and taken to...well, I think I’ll stop there.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
To any writers out there that aspire to write novels, here’s tip. Climb a mountain that will challenge you. Do the research, acquire the tools and gear, stand at the base, look up at the top which could very well be in the clouds, and while you are thinking, “Do I really want to do this?” know that what you are feeling is what it’s like to stand at the base of a novel. When you’re ¾ of the way to the top and you have blisters and you can’t find the trail and bad weather is coming and it’s getting dark and you wish you were home in a comfortable chair watching Netflix—that’s what it’s like to write a novel. When you finally reach the top, and you are so exhausted you can barely talk, but you have that amazing view and that profound sense of accomplishment—that’s what it’s like to finish a novel. It makes everything else that you endured worth every second.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The scene where Colin learns that his father died. My father is still alive, and it was not easy imagining him...not alive. My mother died while I was writing the book, so that scene was challenging for me on many levels.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
My latest book would be Deadfall. The protagonist was having sexual identity issues and that was hard to write. And another key character had trauma induced mutism. It really limited the way I could have her communicate, particularly in desperate situations—and there were lots of those!
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Ugh. I have to pick? That’s like a dentist asking me which I prefer more, the drill or the hook? But both are fun in their own way. Drafting means I have the book ahead of me. And revising...I had so much fun working with my editor Hannah Allaman on Deadfall. Like Julie Rosenberg on Bad Call, it is so amazing to see how they lead me to a better book!
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I love writing dialogue (my dream is to sell a screenplay!). I’d like to think that if the world were in jeopardy, and the only thing that could save it would be a page of snappy, well written dialogue—someone, somewhere would ask me to put on my mask and cape.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Yes, and thank you for asking. Climate change. My first novel, POD, had an environmental theme. The novel I’m working on now has climate change as a critical element of the plot. Since the basic rule of survival is shelter first, and the earth is our home, it makes sense to protect it. Future generations are counting on us!
By: Stephen Wallenfels
Publisher: Disney Publishing
Release Date: December 19th, 2017
One winner will receive an copy of Bad Call (Stephen Wallenfels) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*