Wolf Island, the 8th book of The Demonata, is set around the same time period as Death's Shadow, and certain events overlap. Grubbs is the narrator. Having accepted his role as Beranabus's assistant, he has been getting on with the job of trying to find out more about the mysterious Shadow by tracking down demons and making them talk. But he hasn't learnt very much. When he hears that Dervish has been attacked, Grubbs and his companions (Beranabus and Kernel) return to Earth.
To try and find out the truth about who was behind the attack on Dervish and Bec, Grubbs heads off in pursuit of Prae Athim, the sinister leader of the Lambs. Meera Flame and Shark lend him their expertise, and Shark puts together a team of bad-ass soldiers, in case the hunt gets nasty!! But when they set down on the rooftop of the building where Prae Athim works, they walk into the middle of mystery, one whose many questions can only be answered by a visit to the ominously named Wolf Island.
On an island overrun by werewolves, Grubbs and his team will face one of their toughest-ever challenges, and Grubbs will once again have to face the beast which lies dormant within him. Grubbs is about to mature very swiftly, but it's a coming-of-age tale like no other. In the wilderness of Wolf Island, Grubbs Grady is about to learn more about himself than he ever imagined. His life will never be the same again...
NB - PLOT SPOILERS!!! DO NOT READ BEFORE YOU HAVE READ WOLF ISLAND!!
I started work on Wolf Island on September 2nd 2005, and did my final edit in July 2008. I had a blast writing this one!! I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something in the style of the action movies which I've always loved, such as The Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare. Except I wanted to do it with werewolves!!! I was keen to return to the werewolf strand of the storyline which had been introduced in Lord Loss. I think lots of fans thought we were finished with that after book 6, when Grubbs subdues his wolfen half. But I knew that part of the story wasn't over. Grubbs has been evolving from book to book, learning new things about himself each time round. i.e. in Slawter he learnt that he was a magician, in Blood Beast he learnt that he had the wolfen curse of the Gradys, in Demon Apocalypse he learnt that he could control it. I was determined to carry the at learning curve forward -- I think it's what makes Grubbs such an interesting character.
I also wanted to return to the issue of the Lambs. I hadn't done much with them over the first seven books. We see Prae Athim briefly in Slawter, where we also get to see the Lambs in a dream scene, they pop up VERY quickly in book 6, and they're name-checked in book 7, but we hadn't seen anything else of them. One of the things I like about working on a long series like this is introducing plot strands early on, then letting them lie idle, a bit like a bomb waiting to go off. I did it with Steve Leopard in The Saga, and this time round it was the turn of the Lambs. In the bigger scheme of things, the Lambs aren't that important, certainly not compared to the likes of Lord Loss or the Shadow. But in the personal terms of Grubbs Grady, they've always been a menacing presence, and now's their time to shine!!!
The book is a companion piece, in a way, to Slawter. Like that book, much of the action takes place on a "set" after which the novel is named, and although it plays an important role in the telling of the overall story arc, it can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone book. It's fast and furious, with a gradual build-up, then an explosion of action. Only I think this is an even stronger book than Slawter!! It's a more savage book too. As dark as the series has been, this takes us into an even darker realm, as we come to see a side of Grubbs that we've been blind to before, a side of him that we're not necessarily going to like...
I'm very interested in debunking the myths of "heroes" in this series. While I love a good, old-fashioned hero as much as anyone else, I suspect very few of them actually exist or ever existed. People are a mix of good and bad. We all have the capacity for good and evil, and most of us do a little of both over the course of a life, especially if explosed to extreme circumstances. We've seen the noble parts of all three of the series' main characters over the course of the first six books. In the latter stages, I want to explore their darkers sides. Grubbs, Kernel and Bec are all decent people at heart, who want to do what's right for the world. But as the stakes mount against them and the pressure comes on stronger than ever, will they crack? Will they stay true to their calling? Will they become the heroes they have the potential to be -- or will they end up crumbling and succumbing to the darkness in which they find themselves embroiled????
As dark as Wolf Island is, it's also one of the books I had the most fun with. Because it started life with the aim of emulating films such as The Dirty Dozen, I remained true to some of the staples of big action stories like that. So, yes, there IS a crack squad of soldiers, put together solely to complete a one-off mission. And lots of them ARE just canon-fodder -- you can tell, as they're very quickly introduced to proceedings, that, just like second-string actors in big action films, lots of them aren't going to see this through to the closing credits!!! And YES, there is a smooth-talking villain. And YES, there is treachery in the ranks. And YES, there's a private helicopter, a cool gun, and explosions galore!!!!
We also get to meet one of my personal favourite characters of the whole series in Wolf Island -- the eccentric but effective Timas Brauss. I felt it was important, given the darkness of the last four books, that I introduce a couple of characters who could lighten the mood and stop things from getting TOO miserable! We met the first of those in Death's Shadow, the cowardly Kirilli Kovacs. Timas is the second of those characters, but he's a VERY different kettle of fish to Kirilli!!! In fact, Timas isn't like any other character in any of my books. I hope you like him as much as I do. I suspect you will.
The main new character in this book, though, is a guy called Antoine Horwitzer, a high-ranking Lamb who is central to the success or failure of the mission. If that name sounds a bit familier, it should -- it's a play on the name of Anthony Horowitz!!!! As long-time fans know, I like to name-check friends and family members in my books. In this one, I also decided to name-check Anthony. I'm good friends with him, and I love his Alex Rider books, so I thought it would be fun to work him into the story. He's also name-checked me in one of his books (as Darren O'Shaughnessy), giving me a small part. I decied to give his character a much bigger part, but since his name is so well known, I tweaked it slightly. But there's no doubt who this guy is based on -- just like Anthony, he's smooth, suave and a big hit with the ladies!!!! I'll be sending Anthony a copy of the book, and I hope he gets as much of a kick out of reading about the exploits of his alter ego as I did writing about him!!!!
Some of the other characters are named after friends. Liam, Marian and Stephen have been three of my closest friends for a long time now, going back to when we first met when we were 12 or 13. The character of Terry is named after a guy I go to football with. And James Farrier... well, James was the winner of a charity auction to have his name featured in one of my books!!! Actually, his Mum bid secretly on his behalf, and only revealed it to him on his birthday!! I was keen to give James a juicy part (I'd promised in the auction that the character of the winner would be killed off in the book!!), and because of his surname, I was actually able to do a lot more with him than I'd initially planned!!!
Wolf Island is one of my favourite books in the series. It's fast, furious fun, while at the same time being one of the darkest, grittiest books I've written -- not a bad balancing act!!! We saw in book 7 that the odds were mounting against our band of heroes, and in this book they continue to rise. There doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel that Grubbs, Kernel and Bec have found themselves in. Will book 9 offer a sudden burst of hope for them?
Heh -- what do YOU think?!?!?