The Tension Interview with Steven Wedel, He Who Writes Erotic Werewolf Novels and So Much More.

I interviewed author Steven Wedel, and my cowriter for a couple of books, about where all his writing tension comes from. At first he said his daughter cell phone bills, but then he got all charming and agreed to the interview.

What Steve’s website says about him is : 

I was born in Stillwater, Okla., in 1966 and we moved to Enid, Okla. about a year later. Some of my earliest memories are of watching The Foreman Scotty Show on a black-and-white TV and winning a call-in contest on the show; the prize was a T.G.&Y. gift certificate. I played in the dirt a lot and had a fire engine peddle car I rode like hell on our back patio.

Somewhere back then, I recall my mom and aunt letting me watch Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” That scared me a lot.

Steve is the author of  a bunch of scary books, mostly about werewolves and people.

So, Steve, what do you do to build tension in a scene?

I always come at my writing from a character-first perspective. So, for me, tension comes from creating a character readers really care about. My stories typically start kind of slow because I’m developing the lead character(s). I also write from the POV of the antagonist (keeping in mind that he’s the hero of his own story). This way, the reader sees the goals of both the antagonist and protagonist and can watch as they come closer and closer to confrontation.

Is it a big bang shock sort of technique for you or you more fond of the taking the reader down the dark and sinister hallway?**

Always go down the dark and sinister hallway! Hopefully there’s a big bang shock at the end of it. When I teach my Writing Horror class at the local vo-tech we spend a lot of time comparing Friday the 13th to The Exorcist. In the Friday movies, all you get is the big bang shock. One after another, characters you don’t care about are killed in creative and gruesome ways. In The Exorcist, you see Regan, her mom, and Father Karras in their normal lives. You come to like them before the evil invades their lives. When it does, it starts slowly, with noises in the attic, a quiet conversation about the loss of faith, etc. By the time of the final showdown, you really know these people and are deeply emotionally invested in their well-being.

Do you think that it’s easier to build tension in first or third person? And either way, as a reader (not as a writer), which do you prefer?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. In many regards, I think it’s easier to build tension in third person simply because if it’s told in first person the reader assumes the character telling the story lives. Also, because you can jump heads and show the motivation of the antagonist. That’s something you can’t do so well in first person because the reader can only see what that one character sees, only know what that one character knows. As a reader, I love the intimacy of the first person narrative, though.

If you think of suspense coming in different sizes (small, medium, super-ultra large), do you think it’s best to alternate these or are you into the steady diet of massive (or tiny) suspenses in your book?

I think of it as dating. Let’s say the goal is, umm … the honeymoon night activity. There are stages you go through in getting there.

“If I try to hold her hand, will she pull away and tell me how gross I am and how she’ll kill me if I ever touch her again?”

He thinks about that, stews about it, starts to do it, but she suddenly has an itch and her hand is gone.

He waits, waits, waits, then tries again. Success! She looks at him and smiles. Later, he wants to kiss her. The stakes are higher, so he’ll have to think about that one longer. After all, his breath probably stinks, he’s never kissed anyone before, doesn’t know how to form his lips, when to use his tongue, how long to hold the kiss, all that. But then it simply happens and it’s fantastic and you release a little of that tension. There are smaller goals, medium goals and that super-ultra large goal waiting at the end of the story.

When you write do you think the nature of  your suspense comes from your characters or from the plot?

What? Are you my wife? You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said, have you? Well, I have that affect on women.* Ya’ll just tune me out. I’m like the checkbook trying to say, “Do you really need another pair of shoes?” when you’re already at Shoe Carnival.

Plot is important, of course. You have to have something going on. This is why I don’t get into much “mainstream” literature. Too often, nothing really happens. Interesting people become boring if all they do is veg in front of the TV. Something has to be going on in their lives, and they have to react, anticipate, and act to shape the course of those events.

Last night I finished this new book where nobody was killed, the foundation of the planet wasn’t threatened, and no ship capsized to kill hundreds, but a lot happened to this one fascinating young girl who was writing letters to John Wayne. In the grand scheme of things, what was going on with her was pretty small potatoes, but in her world the events were huge. That’s what’s important. It was completely believable that Lily became a “girl hero” in the context of her story, but she wasn’t going to be defusing atomic bombs in that story. The plot will grow out of the characters.****

I’ve tried developing stories where the plot is more important and I end up with cardboard cutout characters that are just moved across the board like the little plastic pegs in the little plastic cars in the Life game.

Steve, you are awesome! Thank you so much!

*Reader, he does NOT have this affect on women. It is the opposite. I swear to you.
** Reader, we talk about these techniques in an earlier post.
*** Reader, does it annoy you to be called reader? If I sent you strudel would it make it better

**** This is my book he’s referring to. Steve is nice like that.


My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to



1. Act nice to the short man with the white mustache who runs the gears for the mechanical bull. This is important once you get on said bull.


2. Wonder why the bull looks SO much bigger in person. Touch its horns but not too much, this annoys the bull driver man with the mustache.


3. Wave to your friends. Who knows if you will ever see them again?


4. Bounce on your toes (if you are short, like me) and leap onto the bull, which is chest high if you are short. This is the WORST part of riding the mechanical bull for many people. If you are drunk this is hard. If you are an older man with a big belly and a good golf swing this is hard. If you weigh more than 110 pounds this is hard, unless you are a super athletic guy, or short (like me) and have no qualms about bouncing up and down to get enough momentum to sit astride the bull.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are even slightly cute and slightly female a lot of nice men who are more than slightly drunk will try to help you onto the bull. This is not because they are really nice. This is because they want to touch your butt.


5. Look triumphant as people cheer the fact that you are able to actually sit on the bull.


6. Look shocked as you realize you’re already panting and THE BULL HASN’T STARTED MOVING YET.


7. Pray if you are the type to pray. Convert if you are the type not to pray.


8. Hold on to rope.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a man from Maine and you pull on your bicycling gloves, this will NOT help you stay on the bull. This is because millions of people in the audience (Maine’s entire population) will start yelling WUSS! WUSS! WUSS! at you and you will laugh so hard you’ll fall off before it starts.

pray for real

9. Pray again. PRAY FOR REAL THIS TIME unless you’re super-anti prayer and then maybe mumble mantras, look for Universe energy and drink some kombucha? Or vodka? Maybe just swig down some vodka.


10. Ride the bull. It is okay to look stupid. It is not okay to scream. The bull-driver man with the mustache will MAKE you fall off if you scream. If you are a cute girl you will stay on the bull MUCH longer than anyone else even if you have no balance. Accept this. Bull-driver man doesn’t have that twinkle in his eye for nothing.


11. Try to lean forward, back, and balance. Comment on how it seems as if they’ve put furniture polish (perhaps Pledge? It is a lemony smell) on the bull to make it slippery. Wonder if the bull likes it.


12. Hold on to whatever you can hold onto, even bull-driving man.

spout cliches without the accent mark

13. Grab horns as you fall off. Hoist yourself back up by the bulls. You get bonus points for this AND you get to brag after by announcing to all,  YES, I TOOK THE BULL BY THE HORNS!


14. Wink at bull-driving mustache man. Do NOT do this if you are a boy, unless you think bull-driving mustache man is a big Brokeback Mountain fan, which he probably isn’t because only the ladies are staying on the bull for more than two seconds. 


15. Get cocky. You’re on a bull. You’ve been on there for 40 seconds. Wave to your friends. Bow to your fans. Scream, I RULE THE WORLD. Look in mustached bull driver’s eyes. Uh-oh. You got cocky. His twinkling eyes turn evil. That bull is bucking a lot harder. You’re going to…


16. FALL. Try to do this gracefully. It is impossible. So laugh and bounce back up. Thank God that you weren’t wearing a skirt. If you are wearing a skirt, thank God you’re wearing nice underwear. You are, aren’t you? 


To follow that up, I give you a podcast that talks about writing and poop texts. 



My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears JULY 16 with Steve Wedel.

It’s scary. It’s romantic and it’s one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale


You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 


A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

People remind me that I’m female. Sometimes those reminders aren’t nice.

A long time ago (I’m talking years) I was tagged by Varian Johnson 

This is the ALA version where I say, I did not win any awards today, but I did win an Independent Book Publisher’s Award once! Then I put google eyes on it. This is probably not the most respectable thing to do.

My IPPY Award. I call them, Ippy. Totally original, I know.

Congratulations to all the authors who won awards today and to all the authors who have created books and stories and beauty. You matter. You make a difference.

The rules for the MEME: Each participant shares five little-known facts about themselves. Those tagged are asked to do the same as well as reiterate this guideline. All select five folks to be tagged and list their names. (Leave a comment letting them know that you’ve tagged them and that they may see your blog as an example.) I am not tagging people because I am shy.

Here we go.

Five Little Known Facts About Me

(Since I am “little known” MYSELF, it feels as if all facts are indeed little known, but whatever…):

1. I was once a city councilor. 

I was the youngest ever in my city, and one of a handful of women who have ever made it to the big, plush chairs. Sometimes, I would doodle things on my memos like: I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. Very mature. But I did hate it. I resigned when the newspaper chain I worked for made me the editor of the city’s newspaper, which gave me an obvious conflict of interest, but really just a ridiculous advantage over the other local paper.

Yes, I have ethics.

2. I am female 

and that’s about the only label that I’m 100% sure of, but even then I don’t think, “I am female.” I tend to think, “I exist.” Or, “I am human.” People remind me that I’m female. Sometimes those reminders aren’t nice.

3. I get massive crushes on comedians, but not in a sexual way.

It started off with Robin Williams when he was on Mork and Mindy. Oh boy, do not wear rainbow suspenders around me…. I will trail you around waiting to see how your mind works and how you make funny things.

4. And animals. 

My first crush was on Ben, the grizzly in the old Grizzly Adams TV show, and then there was Scooby of Scooby Doo and Boo Boo on this Yogi Bear cartoon. Again, not in a sexual way. I just wanted to fall in love and cuddle.

5. I am terrified that no one will read my books AND I WILL GO BANKRUPT. 

Oh, that’s just so obvious that I’ll add another one…

6. I was in a song and dance company from seventh grade through high schooL

Shut up! Do not laugh! We got paid.

Anyway, we started out performing at Chuck E Cheese (on the stage) and at the Masonic temple and eventually beaches and other places. We’d sing songs from FAME! for one of our shows. Another was all about American Pop or something embarrassing like that.

The actress/comedian, Sarah Silverman , was in it too. Her mom and my mom used to worry about it staining us and making us into bad girls who did drugs. Sarah had Mork and Mindy suspenders and I was SO JEALOUS! I think my lack of those suspenders is why I ended up a writer and not a comedian. Plus, um, lack of talent. 🙂

Bridget Walsh, who was the first Annie to tour the country was in our song and dance company, too. She swore a lot and ended up being on this MTV dance show. Go figure.

Sarah ended up being Sarah.

And I ended up being me, Writer of Books, Terrified of Nobody Reading Those Books.

Do you want to play? I would love it if you did, but no pressure!



My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

Hear My Book Baby (and More) On Patreon

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading a chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes from some of my more popular books. And so much more.


A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 


Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.


I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner


You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy


The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy