Author Danika Stone talks Edge of Wild, her first mystery-thriller book + an excerpt reading by Ms. Danika herself!
You’ve published quite a few titles from the past years, how different is Edge of Wild from your previously published works?
I consider my work as falling into two categories: contemporary fiction and young adult fiction. There are a few differences between the two (audience, degree of complexity, etc.) but beyond that, most stories still come down to spinning a good yarn. I hope I do that!
Edge of Wild is unique because it’s the first book I’ve written in the mystery-thriller genre. The level of tension you must build in a story like that is special. The plot must unravel at exactly the right pace to keep readers guessing as they turn the page. I’m really excited to share this story!
Have you always been interested in mystery and thriller stories both as a reader and a writer?
I read everything! But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Stephen King’s books have kept me up many a night! I love the puzzle aspect to a mystery, and there’s something very primal about a story that won’t let you stop reading. Hopefully Edge of Wild does both.
What’s the most difficult part to write in Edge of Wild?
I’m admittedly much better at writing first drafts than at editing. (And that’s why it’s so good I’ve worked with excellent editors!) Edge of Wild required a very careful approach to laying out the pieces and including enough characters that the reader didn’t know right away who the killer was. For me, this complex planning was the biggest difference between writing a mystery and other genres.
What then did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Characters always come first for me, and I definitely fell in love with Louise and Rich right away. Their relationship is the beating heart of the book. When I wrote their slow-burn romance, I would find myself grinning at my computer screen. The connection was definitely my favorite aspect of writing!
Describe each of the characters (Rich & Louise) in 3 words.
Rich: Driven, Struggling, Leader
Louise: Centered, Attuned, Negotiator
Lastly, what shall the readers expect in Edge of Wild?
Edge of Wild takes readers on a journey into a little border town where not everything is what it seems. You should expect a bevy of memorable characters, a complex mystery, and a romance that’ll burn up the page! It’s a quick-paced, smart read.
Edge of Wild
by D. K. Stone
Jeff was packing to leave when he heard the noise outside the window. It was a low keening sound, the sort of moan that would have sent a city slicker like him running a year ago. But not now. No, tonight, he picked up the wooden bat next to the door and walked out onto the porch.
Jeff’s time in the mountains had changed him. He was far more confident in who he was nowadays; the solitude of Waterton had done that. Other changes were less certain. He was preparing to throw away a career at Coldcreek Enterprises, for one thing. And last spring, he would have had misgivings about walking out into the darkness after hearing… something.
Tonight he did it without a second thought.
He stood, staring out into the sooty black. Waiting. The sound didn’t return, but his mind was abuzz with it. Jeff replayed it over and over, subtly adding to it, filtering it, until he was certain Tucker’s whine was somewhere in the remembered sound. Jeff had bought the cougar hound pup from a local rancher last spring, when the problems had begun. “Cougars can be trouble ’round these parts,” a Park warden had warned when the bloody kill had appeared on this very porch. A dog seemed like the best way to deal with it. Jeff hadn’t expected to love the long-eared mutt so much.
The dog had disappeared a week ago.
In the darkness, far beyond the porch’s golden light, a branch broke.
“Tucker?” Jeff called, his hand tightening on the bat. “That you, boy?”
He whistled, but there was no response. Jeff turned in a slow circle, taking in the protective perimeter of porch light and the door to the house, still ajar, and the warm light of the kitchen. Uncurtained windows framed the room beyond. Jeff frowned. A year in the mountains had made him indifferent to privacy.
Another branch broke, this time a little further out, nearer to the garage.
Jeff stepped down to the yard, heart pounding. Coming here had been a lifetime opportunity: project manager for the building of the Whitewater Lodge, the biggest hotel complex the hamlet had ever seen. Jeff wished he’d known how difficult that goal would be to accomplish.
The issues had started immediately, weather putting the project weeks behind schedule. The construction crew had been outsourced from Calgary, but the men hadn’t been prepared for building in extreme mountain conditions. “No one builds in the winter,” the townsfolk smirked. Pipes burst. Workers quit. Still Jeff pushed forward.
And then the other things began.
In the darkness, something moved. Whatever it was had circled round the far side of the garage, keeping to the shadows. The presence was uneasy and so was he. Rolling sweaty fingers over the bat’s grip, Jeff moved in.
This time he would know.
Jeff’s lifetime opportunity had turned into a nightmare. Even after the snowy weather had cleared, the troubles continued. Everything that could go wrong with the unfinished hotel, had. He had opened one wing of the lodge despite misgivings.
It was a disaster.
Balancing that small section of rooms while finishing the remaining two wings was impossible. He’d borrowed money to finish, but the loan wasn’t nearly enough. The rest of the town ran as if it was still 1950. The townsfolk didn’t like him. Didn’t want him here. Warden Grant McNealy had blamed a cougar for the dead animal on his porch. But there’d been the trouble with broken cabin windows. “The wind.” And then the break-ins at the Whitewater Lodge. “Seasonal workers.” All of it conveniently discredited, but Jeff didn’t believe that anymore. Not after Tucker had disappeared off the chain in the yard last week. He knew the reason now.
Someone wanted him out.
Jeff made almost a complete circuit of the yard, pushing further into the darkness, but the bushes were silent. He whistled once more, knowing there’d be no answer, and then stopped, taut with frustration. With a sigh, he turned back around and froze.
A shadowy figure stood on the porch.
Jeff took a shaky breath, lifting the end of the bat and widening his stance. With the light behind, he couldn’t see who it was.
“What do you want?” he called.
The figure on the porch smiled, teeth white against the shadows.
“Just to talk…”
As a bonus, here’s a clip of Ms. Danika reading the prologue from her book launch!
Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, she now writes novels for both adults (Edge of Wild, The Intaglio Series, and Ctrl Z) and teens (All the Feels). When not writing, Ms. Stone can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online.
She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.