Shredder

ebook coverShredder” has a new cover, and I’m totally jazzed over it!

A lot of times I can’t put a finger on the exact moment or circumstances that inspired a new book. But this is one where I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the idea hit.

I’ve been skiing since I was in high school (both downhill and cross country), and I took up snowboarding in the early 90s. My first time was at night, with a kid named Steve who’d had exactly one lesson. (He was going to be my teacher.)

What a miserable way to learn to ride!

I had my skis in the back of my truck (just in case) and the whole way down the mountain I was thinking, “Soon as I’m down, I’m gonna chuck this board as far as I can throw it and get my skis!” Man, it was just terrible! I couldn’t do a thing, and I was spending more time on my rear end–or my face–than I was on my board.

It took more than an hour to get down the hill, but by the time I did I was finally able to stay upright for more than a couple of feet. That improved my attitude, and I thought, “Okay . . . I’ll give it one more try!”

Well, things got a lot easier after that. And if you’ve ever ridden, you know that it’s actually easier to learn than skiing. After one season, most riders can shred better than skiers who’ve been at it for two or three years. And I was hooked! There was a time my first season when I went riding every single night for more than a week. There’s a resort called Brighton that offers inexpensive night passes, and I’d load my gear up every morning, go to work, and then head straight to Brighton as soon as I was done for the day.

And it was just awesome.

Brighton has a chair called Majestic (it was a two-rider lift at the time, maybe it still is) that went right over a terrain park. You could ride and be entertained by all the people crashing and going yard sale. Anyway, one night I was riding Majestic over the park, watching all the daredevils risking life and limb and it hit me: I wanted to write a book.

More specifically, I pictured a teenager boarder riding the lift, and having a tough, heart-felt conversation with someone older. I wondered what could have prompted such a conversation . . . and I was off and running.

A bit of trivia I’ve never shared before, not with anyone. Most of my books have a “theme song.” Some song that reminds me of the story, and that motivates me when I’m working. The theme song to “Shredder” is “Shakedown” by Bob Seger. (Long story.) Total coincidence, but just as I was finishing this post, “Shakedown” came on.

‘Course, I had to crank up the volume, and was instantly transported back to the slopes . . .

Virus!

Skimonster1117_ebookMy book “Virus!” came out about a month ago, so I’m a little late getting this posted. But what a kick! If I ever wrote a book that was “pure adrenaline,” this is it.

When I began writing, I remember thinking, “I’ve got to start this story at ninety miles and hour . . . and keep getting faster!” You’ll have to decide for yourself how well I did, but I know there were nights I couldn’t get to sleep because I was so hyped up over what I was writing. (One young reader told me that he’d read the whole thing in about two days, and that when he was finished he “chuffing for breath,” as if he’d been the one doing all the running.)

Made me laugh.

I do have to make special mention of a few key characters. “Brady” was inspired by a young man I know, and so were “Sid” and “Ethan.” (I’ve actually been trying to work Ethan into a book for quite a while, and I’m glad he finally made an appearance.)

And Hunter . . . oh, man. If you ever met the young woman who inspired Hunter, you’d think I actually toned her down quite a bit. I used to joke that when she became older, that no young man would ever propose marriage to her. That instead, she’d simply inform some lucky guy one day that they were going to be married, and that was that.

I’m not sure if things actually worked out that way, but I have my suspicions . . .

I hope this book is as fun to read as it was to write!

Time Snap Interview

After reading Time Snap, an eighth-grade reader named Max interviewed me for his English class. Here is part of our conversation:

Max: Do you outline your stories?

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Shane: No, never. Sometimes I’ll have an idea where I want my story to go, but I like the surprise of making things up as I go. A lot of times I’m as surprised as anyone by what happens. Have you read my book, Demon’s Treasure?

Max: Oh, yeah. That’s the reason I was excited to read Time Snap.

Shane: Cool. One of the main characters started out as one of the “good guys,” and one of the “bad” guys ended up being a hero. When I started writing, I had no idea that was going to happen. And when the guys “flipped,” I remember thinking, “I can’t believe that just happened!”

Max: Did anything like that happen in Time Snap?

Shane: Not exactly. But I was surprised by  the dinosaurs that kept popping up out of nowhere. I didn’t really know I’d be writing about them until they came jumping out of the darkness.

Max: Like the “dinobirds?”

Shane: Exactly! One minute Chase was sneaking up to that clearing in the woods, and the next instant those dactyl-things were dropping out of the sky. I really didn’t know ahead of time that was going to happen. Scared the bejeebers out of me.

Max: What about the tyrannosaur?

Shane: The tyrannosaur was different. I knew he was going to play a huge part, so he was part of things right from the start.

Max: Do you have any favorite scenes?

Shane: All of the scenes with the tyrannosaur. They were so much fun to write. I love action sequences anyway, but the rex added an extra jolt of energy. I just had a great time with them.

Max: So, I’m not supposed to ask where you get your ideas–

Shane: Really? Why not?

Max: It’s supposed to be too obvious a question, I guess. Like one you get asked all the time? But I’m curious . . .

Shane: It’s okay. I actually like hiking around the desert looking for fossils, and when I’m doing that, I can’t help thinking of dinosaurs. You know, picturing what things must have been like back in the day. And then picturing what it might be like to actually run into a bunch of them. And then finding a way to make it happen . . .

Max: And you really found pieces of–what are they called? Fossilized poop?

Shane: Coprolites? Oh, yeah. I use them for paperweights.

Max: The girls are gonna think that’s gross–

Shane: But the guys will love it!

Max: Yeah. Um, so do you have any weird writing habits?

Shane: A few, I think. At least I think they’re unique to me. The first thing, probably, is that I can’t write at the computer. I have to write everything out longhand, and then type into the computer later.

Max: How come?

Shane: Probably ’cause that’s how I learned to do it. I started writing before we had word processors, so it’s still easiest for me to write everything out first. It takes a lot more work that way, but for me, it’s a tough habit to break.

Max: Anything else?

Shane: Well, I can do my editing when I’m sitting at my desk, but when I’m actually writing–when I’m actually creating stuff–I hate being cooped up. I like going to ballgames and sitting in the bleachers and doing my work there. Before I moved to the country, I often went to one of the local malls and found a table in the food court where there were a lot of people around and worked there. I don’t know why, but being around lots of people like that always sparks my creativity.

Max: Isn’t that distracting?

Shane: Sure. But it’s also energizing. I can come home from the mall, or a ballgame, and feel like I’ve got a lot done. But when I’m cooped up at my desk, I get bored, and tired, and it’s easy to get lazy.

Max: So is there going to be a sequel to Time Snap?

Shane: There wasn’t going to be. But I’ve been surprised by how much people like reading about dinosaurs. I actually had another project I’ve been getting ready to jump into, but I might put that off and do another dinosaur book.

Max: Sweet! Will you tell me when it comes out?

Shane: Count on it!

Time Snap

My new book “Time Snap” just came out and I couldn’t be more excited about it. (And I can’t get enough of that cover!) I ran into some problems with the actual publishing (the fact that I just had shoulder surgery and have to do all my work one-handed hasn’t helped), but now that the wrinkles have been ironed out, I thought you might like to see an excerpt:

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CHASE’S KNEES SAGGED like they’d turned to Jell-O. As the lightning died away the outline of the big rex melted again into the darkness. But looking up, Chase imagined he could still see the dull gleam of the animal’s enormous yellow teeth.

The rex growled as if thinking, I’ve got you now!

Chase felt fear squeeze his heart like an icy hand. He knew they only had one chance to get away, and that there was no room for mistakes.

“Klorel, Zach … run!”

They didn’t need to be told twice. The next instant Klorel and Zach were sprinting through the trees with Chase hot on their heels. The big rex bellowed … angrily? Hungrily? Chase couldn’t tell—didn’t care—as he raced after his friends.

Klorel tripped on a root and fell flat on her face. Not missing a beat—as smoothly as if they’d practiced it a thousand times—Chase and Zach reached down as they passed, grabbed her by the arms, and pulled her to her feet.

They still had a chance to escape. But Zach suddenly became tangled in the roots and fell hard enough the air gushed from his lungs in a loud hooff! Chase turned to help just as the rex burst from the trees. The tyrannosaur lunged and Zach rolled away just as a massive foot thumped into the mud, exactly where he’d been a second earlier.

“Zach!”

Chase cringed and darted to the side as the tyrannosaur bellowed. The rex whipped around as if searching for its prey and Chase saw the great tail swinging toward him. He ducked just as the tail lashed the air, felt a whoosh! as it passed over him.

The tyrannosaur darted forward and snapped at something in the brush, the huge jaws slamming together with a crack like a gunshot. There was a wet crunch

Chase felt his stomach heave, knowing Klorel had been in that direction.

—and the great head rose over the trees, leafy limbs and branches dangling from its jaws.

Outraged at having missed its prey, the rex turned and lunged again. Chase dove aside as a massive foot came crashing down, just missing him. He scrambled to his feet then instantly ducked again as the tail whipped by over his head.

The tyrannosaur obviously knew Chase—or someone, or several someones—was there, hidden in the brush. But in the rain and the darkness and the thickness of the brush, it didn’t know exactly where.

The rex bellowed, stamping a foot into the mud so hard it shook the ground. Mud flew through the air and splattered Chase like a school bus splashing through a puddle.

The tyrannosaur wheeled around and snapped at the brush. Chase had lost track of Zach and Klorel—didn’t know which way they’d gone—but couldn’t help thinking they were right there, beneath the rex. He reeled back, hot bile rising in his throat, certain the rex had gotten one of them.

The dinosaur crunched down again—the huge jaws cracking together—then whipped its head back and forth, shredding its prize into pieces. Chase saw leaves and branches flying from its mouth, but the rex didn’t seem to realize it had missed the real treat. It shook its head and stamped the mud, then abruptly wheeled around again. Chase dropped and rolled to avoid a clawed-foot, then instantly had to roll the other way to miss the other one. The tyrannosaur was thrashing around like it was covered with biting ants, and Chase was right beneath it, scrambling back and forth and trying to avoid being mashed into the mud.

A great foot crashed down and part of a massive claw caught Chase across the leg, pinning him to the ground. Chase cried out in pain, but the claw moved and Chase wiggled free, the dinosaur not knowing he was right there. Chase army-crawled through the mud, realizing he wasn’t just in danger from the terrible teeth and jaws. He was just as likely to be squashed flat by a massive foot or batted into outer space by the whipping tail.

He reached the trees and scrambled to his feet, wanting to run, but was afraid the rex would see him. He knew his best bet was to stay out of the dinosaur’s line of sight while trying to avoid being trampled, batted, beaten, or eaten.

The rex lunged at something in the brush, and Chase darted behind the trunk of a thick tree. He watched the dinosaur stomp back and forth for another moment, then took a step back from the clearing. And then another.

Finally, when he was sure he was out of sight, he turned and ran deeper into the trees. He ran for several minutes, then turned and angled in the direction of the jet. He hoped Zach and Klorel—if they’d gotten away—would be doing the same.

He could still hear the tyrannosaur thrashing about in the trees. But the animal didn’t seem as enraged as it had been before.

As if accepting that—for now—its prey had escaped.

Crazy, disturbing thoughts raced through Chase’s mind as he slogged through the trees.

A million different animals to choose from, and it finds us again, Chase thought. He

winced as a wet branch whipped across his face. It’s almost like it’s looking for us. Like it’s tracking us. But how?

Some kind of wild dinovision?   

Extrasmellory perception?

Rogue reptilian radar?

What?

A strange thought began tickling the back of his brain. He sensed the big rex wasn’t just looking for a quick snack. It seemed more like a dog chasing a ball while the kids played keep-away.

Huh.

 

Shark Bites

 

I givJansen Printe a lot of talks, and one of my favorite bits is a comedy routine about scuba diving with sharks and manta rays. Even though “Demon’s Treasure” is a taut, young-adult thriller, a few jokes from my routine slipped in. The other day I received a note from a young reader who’s heard me speak; he laughed out loud when he remembered the jokes in the book from my talk.

Here’s an example:

. . . Nick also explained that sharks were known to bite into a person and then, not liking the taste, spit them back out again.

“So even if one does sink his teeth into you, it doesn’t mean he’s going to finish the job.”

“Yeah,” Jansen replied, “but you’ll still be full of holes.”

Without missing a beat, Nick said, “But that’d be awesome!”

“What? Why?

“Well, if that happened to me, I’d just plug my nose and blow real hard and the air would come whooshing out of all those little holes. Voila! Human Jacuzzi!”

Brother . . .

Shredder

snowboardMy new book “Shredder” is soon to be released. Here is an excerpt:

 

Trennon waited until Wulff had gone, then rode slowly, casually, down the mountain. He was feeling better . . . better than he had in days. And with a start realized he was even smiling.

He thought about it for a moment and realized his head was still throbbing–

Ripley’s busy in there today . . .

–but the whole time he’d been talking with Wulff, he hadn’t even noticed.

Wow, he thought. He’s just like Chessie. . . . He makes me forget my problems.  . . . He makes me forget I have problems.

He breathed deeply, happily, feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.

Wulff . . . a cop!

He couldn’t believe it. For the first time in months Trennon felt like things were working out. Like the enormous black cloud hanging over him since losing his brother had lifted. Like the sun was finally shining again.

He reached the bottom of the hill and hopped back on the lift. It was a quick ride and before he knew it he was on top of the mountain again. He slid to the side and plopped onto a convenient drift to strap in. He was giving his bindings a final tug when someone rode up beside him.

Two someones.

“Well, well, well,” Stoner one said, dropping to the snow beside him. “Look who we have here.”

“It’s our nosy little friend,” Stoner Two said. He plopped on the other side, sandwiching Trennon between them.

Trennon felt his heart drop as he looked from one stoner to the other.

“I think you have something that belongs to us,” Stoner One said. The man’s voice was low but filled with knives.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do . . . you have something of ours and we want it back.”

“What?” Trennon asked, trying to appear innocent as ice cream. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know exactly what we’re talking about,” Stoner Two said, menace dripping from his voice like goo from a slime-smeared zombie. “So quit acting dumb or things are gonna get ugly.”

“Way too late for that,” Trennon quipped.

“You’re a mouthy little kid, aren’t you?”

“My mouth is legendary,” Trennon said before he could stop himself. He knew this wasn’t the time to be smarting off, but couldn’t keep the words from spilling out.

“Your mouth is writing checks your body can’t cash,” Stoner One said stupidly.

“And yours is saying words it can’t spell.”

Trennon looked back and forth, knowing he was in trouble. And knowing there was no way out of it.

Well, maybe one way . . .

He sat back in the snow as if giving up, then hopped to his feet and onto the slope. He aimed for the steepest part of the run and was twenty yards downhill before the stoners realized he was getting away.

“Hey!” one of the stoners shouted. “Stop!”

Right, Trennon thought. Like I’m really gonna just stop and let you catch me.

And then: Morons . . .

 

He flew down the run, quickly gaining speed, the stoners shouting and spouting obscenities as they tried to catch up. Trennon didn’t know what they’d do if they caught him, but was determined not to let that happen.

Where’s Wulff now that I need him? Trennon wondered cynically. Typical cop . . .

 

He shot down the hill, a rooster-tail of snow spraying up behind him. He thought about racing for the busiest part of the resort on the chance the stoners wouldn’t try anything around a crowd of people.

All those witnesses . . .

On the other hand, who knew what a couple of dumb, angry stoners might do? Besides, if anyone official became involved, Trennon would have to answer some pretty awkward questions himself.

He set his teeth and pushed for more speed. He knew his best chance was to leave the stoners so far behind they’d need the Millennium Falcon to catch up. He crouched over his board–

A speeding skier abruptly shot from the trees, skidding on the ice and cutting him off. Trennon jammed his heels into the ice to keep from losing control, but it was too late. His edge caught and snagged and pitched him forward, face-first into the snow.

“Aaargh!”

His head smacked against the ice, the impact shooting lightning bolts through his head–

“Aaargh!”

–but he quickly shook it off. He rolled over, looking up just as the first stoner reached him. The stoner tried to stop but was sliding too fast, bracing himself for impact. Trennon flinched and cringed just as the stoner ran over him, smashing him flat as a pancake and driving the air from his lungs before falling and tumbling away.

Trennon gasped for breath and tried to sit up, but the second stoner was right there, sliding fast. Trennon curled into a ball to keep from being body-slammed again. The stoner flashed past and Trennon tried hopping to his board, but Stoner One reached a hand out, tripping him up. Trennon fell forward, his helmet slamming against the ice. Bright light flashed behind his eyes. He gasped in pain, but sensed movement and rolled away as Stoner Two dove onto the snow, just missing him.

Trennon had both boots strapped to his board, was basically one-legged. But while the stoners each had one boot strapped in and were dragging their boards around, they at least had one leg free to maneuver with. Stoner Two rose to his knees, lunged at Trennon–

Trennon twisted away at the last instant.

Thought, Enough of this!

He rolled onto his back, looked up as Stoner One dove upon him. Trennon coiled like a spring, kicked out as hard as he could, and drove his snowboard straight into the stoner’s chest, hurling him backward.

“Aaaiyyy!”

The stoner yelled, collapsing like a wet glove.

Trennon didn’t hesitate. He leaped onto his board, pointed the nose downhill, and began hopping to propel himself.

Stoner Two came after him. He was frog-walking with his board, reaching out with both hands like a gore-dripping face-chewer from The Walking Dead. Trennon ducked beneath the outstretched gloves, spun around on his board, and raced fakie down the ice. He looked back to see the stoners strapping in, now more enraged than ever.

 

Trennon felt his head pounding as he raced down the hill.

Man, if they weren’t mad before, they are now, he thought. And then: They catch me, they’ll kill me for sure! 

The trail curved around a slick, rocky ridge. The hillside below was too steep and dangerous to ride, fenced off with orange ropes and CLOSED! signs to keep people from trying. But danger was a relative thing. Compared to a couple of homicidal stoners, a steep, rocky hillside was nothing.

Trennon crouched, then used a bump on the trail as a kicker. He pushed hard with his legs, popped into the air, and sucked his knees up to his chest. He flew over the rope but instantly realized he’d miscalculated. He was higher than he expected, nothing but jagged rocks and gnarly pines below. He was flying fast and falling even faster. He had just enough time to clench his teeth before his board clipped a rock and he plowed into the snow. His knees shot up like pistons, driving the breath from his lungs in a painful whoosh! He flipped and spun and then slammed into the husk of a dead tree.

“Oof!”

He gasped for breath and tried to shake his head clear. It took a moment before he realized he was upside down, twisted like a pretzel, buried in a pile of loose snow and spongy pine branches. He tried to breathe but got nothing but a mouthful of cold snow. He coughed and gagged and fought a moment of panic, then finally managed a lungful of frosty air. He clawed at the snow but was anchored by his snowboard. He had to kick and wiggle and flail at the powder until he was finally able to roll himself upright.

He looked uphill. The stoners had ducked the rope, were searching for a way down through the rocks and trees.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Trennon thought grimly. I win, you suck: you cannot ride, you cannot huck!

The stoners could barely handle a halfpipe, let alone a treacherous, rock-covered face like this one.

Morons, he thought. Probably end up killing themselves . . .

 

It took Trennon nearly half an hour to wind his way through the rocks and trees and cliffs and scarps to the bottom of the suicidal hillside. At one point he even had to remove his board. The snow was too deep to slog through, and he had to use the board to shovel a path through the powder.

Yeah, there’s a reason this place is roped off, he thought when he finally found a flat spot to strap in again.

He picked his way between stands of pines and rocky outcroppings and finally dropped onto a groomed trail. A ski patrolman was standing on the side of the trail, watching.

Right, Trennon thought, knowing he was busted. Now the cops show up . . .

https://amazon.com/author/shanebarker