Local author Dave Wickenden launched Mad Dog, his new novel, this week. Here is the plot:
Fourteen-year-old Daniel and his friends enjoy the best childhood could offer during the summer of 1975 until someone starts brutally killing family pets. Daniel, who wants nothing more than to be the hero from his books, convinces his friends to help search for the perpetrator, but this only brings him to the attention of the killer. When evidence surfaces that points to Daniel as the killer, he soon realizes there is much more to being a hero than what he has read. Running away from home, he enlists two seniors and a neighborhood bully to help trap the real killer.
After 31 years in the fire service, Wickenden retired to write thriller novels full-time. He has written three other thrillers, In Defense of Innocence, Homegrown and Deadly Harvest. He has adapted all four books for feature film.
Copies can be purchased at Coles Bookstore in the New Sudbury Shopping Centre and at Bay Used Books on Elm Street; Giacomo’s on Lorne Street; or through Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles and Apple Books.
Q. Can you talk about the plot for your novel, Mad Dog? What can readers expect?
A. A group of friends are enjoying everything that summer can offer when someone begins killing neighbourhood pets. Daniel, who wants to be a hero, convinces his friends if they can identify the killer, they can be just that. Their efforts bring them to the attention of the killer who turns the tables on the friends and Daniel finds himself blamed for the crimes. With all evidence pointing at him, he has no choice but to run away from home to continue his hunt.
Readers can expect a ton of suspense and action all surrounding familiar landmarks in the Martindale Road and Gatchell areas. It’s a blast from the past.
Q. What was the inspiration for this book?
A. Stephen King’s story, The Body, better known as the movie Stand By Me, was a big influence. I loved the way he showed kids from a different era, reflective of his own childhood.
Q. Talk about your protagonist. Is he based on anyone?
A. Daniel and all the other kids have pieces of a lot of different childhood friends, but they are fictional characters that play the role of advancing the story.
Q. What role does Sudbury play in this adventure?
A. Sudbury plays a huge role. This is the city that I grew up in and my memories are part of the story. There are scenes at Martindale playground, which is no longer there. There are a couple scenes at the pit in Gatchell and another up on the slag dump.
Q. Why have you chosen to set the book in 1975?
A. This is my early teen years and one of the last generations to play outside without much supervision. We left the house after breakfast and usually didn’t return home except for a quick supper. Then we were back out until a half-hour after the streetlights turned on. There were no computers or video games.
Q. Why did you decide to present a cross-generational story (a young kid who runs away and enlists the help of a senior)?
A. There are two seniors who help Daniel. The first is his school teacher who has known him for years and knows he is incapable of such horrible crimes. The second is an Italian who witnessed the antagonist chasing after Daniel and his friend Susie, so knows Daniel is innocent. Daniel has no one else to turn to.
Q. I understand you are a member of the International Thriller Association. What is it about thrillers that you like?
A. I love fast-paced, exciting stories. Thrillers give you the rush without putting your neck on the line. It’s the same reason people flock to roller coasters. Deep down we want to be scared a little, because it helps make you feel alive. It can be both entertaining and escapism.
Q. How has COVID-19 impacted your creativity? Do you see a COVID-related story in your future?
A. I’ve used the self-isolation to complete my adaption of Mad Dog into a screenplay. I have adapted all my novels into film features and they are for sale through the International Screenwriters Association. I am currently taking an online screenwriting course through the ISA and am advancing my next political thriller through both screenwriting format, as well as novel.
Q. Tell us about your creative process. How do you find inspiration? How does an idea go from mind to screen?
A. Most of my stories so far come from what’s happening in the world today. In Defense of Innocence and the sequel, Deadly Harvest, dealt with child abuse and human trafficking. Homegrown dealt with the radicalization of young people by ISIS. And Mad Dog came from the rise of animal activists. My current work deals with the rise of Nazism in America, if not the world.
I do not outline my books. I usually have an idea of where I think the story will go but quite often the story takes me in a totally different direction, which is fun. When that happens, I’m like the reader, not knowing what will happen next.
Q. What are you reading right now?
A. I am doing a manuscript evaluation for my publisher, Black Rose Writing. I’m almost finished Steve Berry’s The Alexandria Link. I just got into Berry’s books, which are modern-day thrillers with an ancient historical mystery and I just love his stories. I am also doing a review through NetGalley for a Toronto writer, Andrew Pyper. His book is called The Residence. Finally, I am partway through a historical novel, Peking, by Anthony Grey.
I post reviews for all the books I read as it is the easiest way to support authors and my thanks for a great read.