Wolf Lake Thriller Origins

Wolf Lake origins

The Origins of Wolf Lake: More than a Thriller

Readers often tell me the characters in the Wolf Lake and Thomas Shepherd thrillers and mysteries feel like family. They do to me as well. But when I set out to write the Wolf Lake series, I didn’t intend for the characters to evolve as they they have, nor did I dream the series would become an Amazon bestseller.

Upon finishing the Darkwater Cove series, I needed a break from the tension. Those were the darkest books I ever wrote, and I wanted every page to leave readers paranoid, if not terrified.

Yet an unexpected theme emerged in the Darkwater Cove series: family as a source of strength.

When I conceived of Wolf Lake, I had the Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris in mind, particularly the first book, “Red Dragon”. I’m a huge fan of broken characters, so I intended for my protagonist to struggle with internal demons like Will Graham did. That led to me to the character Thomas Shepherd, a deputy with Asperger’s syndrome who had survived a near-fatal shooting.

Once I delved deeper into Thomas’s character, the themes of family and friends kept coming up. What if Thomas overcame social and emotional challenges by becoming an open, caring individual who always saw the best in others? I knew from day one that Thomas would eventually rise to sheriff, and I wanted him to take his new friends with him on the journey.

The name Shepherd isn’t coincidental. Anyone who has read Wolf Lake knows Thomas is as much a spiritual guide as he is a gifted officer of the law with a caring heart.

From there, I built his eventual family of friends piece by piece. There was Chelsey, his teenage heartthrob who broke up with him, sending Thomas deep into his shell. Then Chelsey’s private investigator partner, Raven, who was dealing with a drug-addicted parent. After Raven came LeVar, a fearsome gangster with a sense of right and wrong. I knew Thomas would befriend LeVar and give him a second chance in life.


Most of all, I fell in love with Scout Mourning’s character. And yes, her names hold significance. Paralyzed from a car accident, the teenager becomes an amateur sleuth who solves crime from her computer, hence the name Scout. Because she’s going through a trying period, the last name Mourning fits beautifully.

Making Scout Thomas’s neighbor gave me an excuse to bring them together. In my head, I envisioned Thomas and Scout solving investigations as a team, but it took a lot of writing before I fleshed out how it would happen.

The last thing I needed was a hook for the first story in the series, “Her Last Breath”.  What if a deranged serial killer, someone as frightening and dangerous as Francis Dolarhyde from “Red Dragon”, learned Scout was closing in on him and targeted her?

If you’re reading with a discerning eye, you might assume I named serial killer Jeremy Hyde after Dolarhyde, but I actually had Mr. Hyde of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fame in mind.

The story came together better than I’d dreamed, but the true pleasure came from watching my characters grow and form relationships. Writing the Wolf Lake and Thomas Shepherd mysteries gives me such joy.

And that’s how the themes of friendship and family became parts of these series.

Deputy Thomas Shepherd: A Symbol of Triumph Over Asperger’s in Dan Padavona’s Literary Universe

In a literary world often saturated with conventional protagonists, Dan Padavona’s Deputy Thomas Shepherd emerges as a breath of fresh air and inspiration. Not only does Shepherd grapple with the complex challenges of law enforcement, but he does so while triumphing over Asperger’s syndrome, showcasing a multi-dimensional character whose resilience and determination transcend beyond the pages.

A Hero Redefined

The beauty of Deputy Thomas Shepherd as a character is the nuanced portrayal Padavona affords him. Rather than reducing him to a mere archetype defined by Asperger’s, Padavona delves deep, crafting a hero who, while shaped by his experiences with the syndrome, is not confined by it. Shepherd is an emblematic figure that heralds a message: one’s neurodivergence can be both a unique strength and a part of a larger mosaic that defines an individual.

Overcoming Asperger’s: An Inspiring Tale

Padavona’s depiction of Shepherd serves as a poignant reminder of the many real-world heroes who navigate life’s complexities with Asperger’s. By placing Shepherd in the role of a deputy, a position that demands quick thinking, adaptability, and acute awareness, Padavona beautifully illustrates how Asperger’s, often seen as a challenge, can be turned into an asset.

Shepherd’s journey, filled with trials and triumphs, mirrors the experiences of many who live with Asperger’s. His tenacity, keen attention to detail, and unique perspective become tools in his arsenal, rather than impediments.

Padavona’s Progressive Vision

It’s not just about creating a character with Asperger’s; it’s about changing the narrative surrounding neurodiversity. With Deputy Thomas Shepherd, Padavona achieves precisely that. Instead of focusing on the limitations often associated with Asperger’s, Padavona pivots to spotlight the strengths, capabilities, and the immense potential of individuals with the syndrome. Through Shepherd’s adventures, readers witness the breaking of stereotypes, and the crafting of a new paradigm of understanding and appreciation.

Dan Padavona’s Deputy Thomas Shepherd is more than a fictional character. He is a symbol, a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who face challenges head-on and emerge stronger. In creating Shepherd, Padavona not only offers readers an enthralling tale but also an invaluable lesson on the power of perspective, resilience, and the endless potential within each individual, regardless of their challenges.

Her Last Breath: The Dark Depths of Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake Finger Lakes

In the world of thriller literature, a new star rises with Dan Padavona’s “Her Last Breath.” As the inaugural masterpiece of the Wolf Lake series, this gripping narrative sets a riveting tone that promises a roller-coaster of emotions, suspense, and mind-bending twists.

A Deputy’s Quest for Redemption

At the core of “Her Last Breath” is Deputy Thomas Shepherd, a character portrayed with a depth that is both haunting and profoundly human. Following a traumatic incident where he was shot in the line of duty, Shepherd seeks solace in the serene environment of Wolf Lake. However, the calm waters of the lake conceal sinister secrets, which are brutally unveiled when the lifeless body of a missing woman washes up on its shores.

Wolf Lake: A Village Clouded in Suspicion

The narrative gains its momentum when the town’s fingers collectively point towards a teenage boy with a checkered past. But is it merely an easy way out to pin the crime on someone who’s always been on the wrong side of the tracks? This pivotal question forms the heart of the plot. The once sleepy resort village transforms into a hotbed of speculation, accusations, and fear.

A Test of Convictions

Deputy Shepherd, with his unwavering sense of justice, challenges the collective conscience of the village. Despite the mounting evidence against the teenager, Shepherd remains skeptical. The race against time becomes a labyrinthine pursuit of the truth, where the stakes are higher than just the fate of an accused boy. If Shepherd doesn’t piece together the puzzle in time, he risks becoming the next name on the killer’s list.

A Thrilling Experience for Avid Readers

For those who relish the intricate suspense of Gillian Flynn, the narrative intensity of Robert Dugoni, or the storytelling prowess of John Sandford, “Her Last Breath” is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Padavona’s writing style is evocative, painting vivid scenes that immerse readers into the world of Wolf Lake, making them participants in the unfolding drama.

“Her Last Breath” is not merely a thriller; it’s an exploration of human psychology, societal judgments, and the lengths to which one will go for the truth. Deputy Thomas Shepherd’s quest is emblematic of the eternal struggle between right and wrong, perception and reality. Dan Padavona has crafted a tale that serves as a testament to the enduring human spirit’s quest for justice, making “Her Last Breath” a must-read for any aficionado of suspense and thrillers.

Do you have questions about how I created these storylines and characters? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

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