A Readers Group Guide

The Devil and the Wolf

  1. Consider the title of the book. What is the nature of the relationship between the two characters as the story progresses? What are the primary characteristics of each? What the similarities and differences between the two?
  2. The author relies upon a handful of locations in this novel. The story opens in the wilds of Montana and then proceeds to a small town in Florida. Why might the author have chosen these locations? Do they have an effect on the narrative? Evaluate and discuss the author’s descriptions of Heaven and Hell.
  3. How is the theme of good and evil presented in this book? What is Mephistopheles’ view of good and evil? Where would you place him on the scale and why?
  4. In chapter Judgment Day (pg. 264), what concepts are touched upon by the author in Jenna’s speech?
  5. In chapter one, Mephistopheles states, “No one gets to know what I know and what I’m thinking unless I say so, and even then, don’t be so sure.” What then, do you think are Mephistopheles’ motivations in this story and why?
  6. Consider the antagonists Eremiel and Nergal. What are their motivations and what might be at the root? How justified are their points of view? Do the motivations of any of the other characters stand out? If so, who and why?
  7. Compare Mephistopheles’ character to Lilith’s. In what ways are they similar and different? While considering the relationship between the two, Lucifer remarks to himself, “She understands him. Of all the beings in creation, this is the one she totally gets.” Although never fully expressed by the author, why might this be?
  8. Choose and discuss some of the relationships between the book’s characters; such as Sachiel and Cassius; Lilith and Lucifer; Jenna, Levi, Delia, and Rob; or Dale and Connie.
  9. Which characters do you feel most positive toward and why? Which do you feel most negative towards and why? Does your perception of any of the characters change over time? If so, which character(s) and how?

Some notes from JR…

JR’s guide to characters from The Devil and the Wolf

Hey folks! JR here. Thought I’d give you a brief summary of the main characters in the book. Let’s start off with the two most important:

Me, JR Wolfe – Smart, funny, clever, good-looking and a jack of all trades. Basically, everybody’s bestie and why not.

Mephistopheles – pronounced Mef-i-stof-eh-lees. Say it like, “let me check for fleas”. But, if you ever meet him, call him Meph – he hates that. He’s some devil guy that tells, long boring stories. Your basic killjoy.

Jenna (leader), Levi (skeptic), Delia (heart), Rob (id) – Meph calls them the Scooby Gang. I call them my Flamigos (Florida Amigos). By chance, they get pulled into the story and end up representing all of humanity.

Dale and Connie Carina – Your basic low-lifes. Two scheming people who are out for themselves. (True, some might say that last sentence could describe Meph and me, but we’re lovable. Well, I am.)

Sachiel, Cassius, Raphael and Gabriel (cameo appearance) – A bunch of angels who turn out to be pretty cool.

Eremiel – Another angel who turns out to be not cool. As it happens, he was right about Meph’s schemes and somehow that made him the bad guy. But that’s okay, because I think he wanted to dissect me or something. As I said, not cool.

Lilith, Lucifer, Belial, Nick – A bunch of Meph’s friends from Hell. That Lilith is a hoot.

Nergal – A ruthless power-hungry devil. I really, really didn’t like him.

There are other humans, angels, devils and demons, and I don’t want to dismiss them. They’re kind of like spices and herbs added to a dish, but you really don’t have to invest in them for the story’s sake.

Happy reading all. Hopefully seeing you again soon,


New Book(s) in the works…

Okay, probably not the best thing to do, while working on one book a couple of weeks ago, I took a little break and then started on another one. Lately, work (yes, the day job I shouldn’t quit) has been a bit over the top, so I haven’t had as much evening/weekend time free as I usually do. However, that should lighten up soon and I’ll get back to the two.

I’m not overly worried, if trying to write both at the same time becomes too much, I’ll just take the time to jot down as many notes as I can and put one on the back burner (maybe not the best spot to place a book though).

One story line follows a team of psychic investigators, who stumble across a very real and dangerous entity. The difficulty in this one, so far, is crafting the comedy, so I have to step back from it often.

The other story line had been a vague notion floating around in my mind for a number of years. It’s my version of the story of The Garden of Eden, and yes, it takes place in the same ‘universe’ of The Devil and the Wolf.

On both I’m only working through the first chapter right now, doing some dialog exercises to get a better feel for the characters and tinkering with a subplot or two.

So that’s what’s what lately.

A Writing Exercise for Characters

Until very recently, I wrote as a hobby distributing my stories (the ones I was happy with) to my friends. However, when I decided to take on something of novel length, I found myself challenged in a number of ways, but foremost had to do with character interaction.

I would say more than 75% of my story ideas initiate with an imagined, comic, interaction between two or three characters. Once that’s established in my mind, I begin to fill in details about them including their current situation, back story, goals, etc. A general sketch was all I needed for short stories and the situation was sufficient to develop the brief plot line needed.

As I wrote my novel, I found myself occasionally unsatisfied with some of the secondary characters rapport. Given that dialog is my favorite thing to write, I found this especially frustrating. So I decided to take the time and create an exercise to help me get to the core of the personalities and how they mixed.

So here’s what I did:
I took them out of the story and dropped them, as it were, into common settings to see how they would get on. Situations such as, cab driver and passenger(s); complaints desk/customer service call, jury deliberation room, Christmas party, anything that would pop into my mind. Off to the side, as a guide, I kept a brief list of character features under each name.

I then just started writing the loose dialog that might occur for any of those situations. Not a lot was necessary. I also didn’t have to care much about identifying who was talking, I knew that. But I did pay attention to possible body language (very important). I just kept it going for maybe a page or so, switched to another scenario and repeated. Some were easy, some weren’t – the difficult ones, I stopped so as not to waste time. The easier ones were usually revealing enough.

This helped me get a firmer footing to develop better dialog within the story. I hope it works for you, if you find yourself in a similar situation.