Shepherd and Wolfe return with the right combination of suspense, fear, and fun

Fourth novel from Counios & Gane follows “two-man relay” approach to writing

Like its three predecessors, Shepherd’s Call, the latest YA suspense novel from Counios & Gane, hits the ground running.

While at the high school graduation of his friend Tony Shepherd, Charlie Wolfe is threatened into a car by a couple of men who present like “thugs” from central casting, but who soon make it clear this is real life and it is scary.

Nevertheless, the words coming out of Charlie’s mouth sound fairly relaxed:

“Are you listening to TLC? If you’re planning to kill me, don’t worry. I’ll do it myself if you keep playing this crap.”

That tight, terse combination of fear and fun works, as does the collaboration of the writers who produced it.

The Saskatchewan-based pair David Gane and Angie Counios have been writing partners for years. They also happen to be in-laws. Gane is married to Counios’s sister.

The partnership began with Gane asking Counios to read and comment on film essays. Then Counios asked Gane to come to the school where she taught “to be a fresh pair of eyes” on the big fall drama production. Next, they wrote several feature films together.

“Why did we decide to work together? For me, it was fun,” Counios says. “I had fun with Dave. Bouncing ideas off each other and getting excited about a turn a story or character would take, high-fiving when a story problem is solved. It really changes the idea of the solitary writer sitting alone at a computer, plunking away at the keys.”

Gane had had some experience working with other writers to produce a zine. “I enjoyed the process and thought that Ang and I could likely do something like this together and that’s how we transitioned into writing our first novel, Along Comes a Wolfe,” he says.

Counios & Gane
Counios & Gane

Counios explains the process they use to create a book.

“David and I build a very thorough outline. I begin. He comes in behind me editing all the way to the midpoint. I run out of steam there. He hurdles over me and finishes the back half of the book. I go in behind him and add comments, et cetera. It’s like a two-man relay.

“Sometimes I’m not even sure who has written what by the time the book goes to print. In fact, at the beginning of our third book, Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing, I read a couple of lines and told David I didn’t like them, and he laughed and said, ‘Well, you wrote it!’ So there, the words mesh together so well I can’t even tell!”

Gane describes how they handle disagreements. “In the first book, our main character, Tony, was flirting with a girl at a party and Angie wrote her draft in a way that I didn’t like, so then I had wanted to go in a different direction, which she disagreed with. It took a bit of us going back and forth until we got the moment to a way we [both] liked.”

Once the fifth book completes this series, the pair may try a series for adults and work on their own individual projects.

“I really have enjoyed this journey Dave has put me on,” says Counios. “No regrets and only positives in everything I have learned!”