BookLife Talks with Jake Kaminski
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Shadow Wolves'
After your varied and unusual career, why turn to writing?
My time running undercover operations against drug cartels was a unique experience. I followed that with assignments in the Balkans, where I witnessed the atrocities of war and the cruelties of human trafficking. These experiences affected me profoundly. I decided these stories needed telling. Writing just seemed like a logical progression.
How much of your background informed the book?
A great deal, actually. The characters in my book are drawn from real life and, for that matter, today’s headlines. The cartel bosses are depicted as cruel, maybe beyond a normal person’s comprehension. But it’s not an exaggeration by any means. The same goes for the scenes set in Bosnia during the war. The ethnic cleansing was horrible. I saw the results, and those memories will remain with me forever. I hope my experiences are reflected in my writing.
What research did you do to ensure cultural authenticity?I did an awful lot of reading, doing my best to absorb the richness of Native American cultures. I was particularly inspired by accounts of the warriors and hunters of tribes like the Apache, Comanche, and Sioux. They could ride, track, and thrive in the most rugged of terrain. They lived in harmony with the world around them. I also worked with Native American trackers in the Balkans. During our time together, we talked about so much: their culture, their work tracking criminals, and their observations about the world outside of the reservation. I came away with a deep respect for what they do and for the history of their people. Hopefully, I’ve captured the spirit of their courage in this book.
What do you think makes your book stand out among the others in the genre?
I think my book brings a great deal of authenticity. While this is a work of fiction, the operations of the cartels are realistic. The motives and actions of the drug bosses are also accurate. I’ve sat across from them negotiating drug deals. I know what makes them tick. In Shadow Wolves, we learn of the drug cartel’s decision to sell women into sexual slavery. Their theory? Drugs can be sold only once, while women can be sold over and over. It’s a horrifying concept, but these men are without souls. Shadow Wolves tells a timely story about heroes for a new generation. The Native American trackers ride across the desert on their wild mustangs, much like their ancestors, in pursuit of a new enemy: the deadly Zeta drug cartel.
Can you give us any information about Ghostwalker, the next book in the series?
Ghostwalker will continue from where Shadow Wolves ended. The leader of the Shadow Wolves, Ethan Crowe, a Lakota Sioux, is a decorated soldier and veteran intelligence operative. Along with a fierce and beautiful Apache tracker, Nalin Chee, he will do everything possible to bring the mysterious drug lord Yaotl to justice. It won’t be easy. Yaotl, a direct descendent of the Aztecs, has become a political force in Mexico, leading a movement to reclaim the country for the indigenous people. He promises to rid Mexico of all traces of the European conquest: the Spanish language, European laws, and even the Catholic faith. Crowe knows Yaotl wants only one thing: power. The man will sell drugs, women, and his own heritage to get it. Against this backdrop, Crowe and his team battle the most powerful cartel in the world. The struggle will become personal. A team of Zetas is sent to the Dakotas, where Ethan’s family resides. Their orders: “Kill everything that breathes.”