“What’s your favorite book you’ve ever written?”
It’s like being asked who your favorite child is—you love them all, and they’re all very different, and they all have things you like and don’t like about them. So I’m tempted to give multiple answers to that question, like, obviously Lee Harden is very near and dear to my heart—hell, I’ve written twelve books about him, and am working on the thirteenth, so that should say something. (If you are new here: The Remaining and Lee Harden Series.)
The as-yet-unreleased Book of Dog was probably the most fun I’ve ever had writing a manuscript—I mean, it was an effortless blast. But then, I could say the same about The Santas.
But giving multiple answers is a cop out, isn’t it? Y’all wanna know THE ONE, the single book that I have the most warm feelings for. And even as I know which book that is, it strikes me as an odd choice, because the reception for it from readers and critics was very love-hate. Many people, both critics and readers alike, thought it was too dark and brutal, as well as being very long—the longest novel I’ve ever written. But it also has something of a cult following from people for whom it struck home.
Of course, I’m talking about Wolves. Man, even now, I have so many mixed feelings about that book. On the one hand, coming off of the success of The Remaining series, I can still feel how disappointed I was at the polarized reception. And in the years since, I’ve come to accept that I’d kind of failed in the whole “brevity” category. And yes, it is dark and brutal. Even now, when I go back and read some of the passages from it, I think, “Damn, Dan! You were in a dark fucking place!” But, even as I recognize its many faults, I can’t help but love that story. It is so packed full of meaning for me—practical, metaphysical, existential, and even theological. And I think that meaning came through to a lot of other people as well, particularly those who have had to take a good, hard look in the mirror and confront themselves over who they’ve allowed themselves to become. When do you turn into something you don’t even recognize? How did you become so callously violent? Cruel, even?
Wolves is, in a way, how I began to exorcise my own demons. And I’ll be the first to admit, it is not what I would call a “pleasant” read. But…it is TRUE. And the most essential job of a writer and storyteller is to at least TRY to tell the truth, warts and all. For that reason, out of all my other works, I believe I am the proudest of what I accomplished with Wolves.