Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pro-File: David Niall Wilson

    DAVID NIALL WILSON is an author, poet, past president of the Horror Writer’s Association, ordained minister, guitarist and dreamer writing from the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina.  He is the author of over a dozen Novels, over a hundred and twenty Short Stories, and winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Professional Achievement in poetry.  David has been spilling words out of his head and onto paper since the mid 1980s when he quit, saying he was a writer, and started writing.  He lives and loves with author and Bram Stoker Award winning editor Patricia Lee Macomber in the historic William R. White House in Hertford, NC.  His novel The Mote In Andrea’s Eye will be available this spring, and his Amazon Short “Ennui” was selected as one of Amazon’s top stories for 2005.  His short story “The Call of Farther Shores” will appear in the anthology Horror: Best of 2005.  He is a columnist at www.chizine.com and contributor on the 1st of each month to the ongoing writers site Storytellers Unplugged.  More information on David, his career, his life and his works can be found at his Website: www.macabreink.com, or in his blog at http://deep-bluze.livejournal.com

    “Tugging heartstrings with the expertise of a master puppeteer, Wilson, a former naval technician, adds plenty of authentic touches but never overwhelms the reader with details. The clean prose, romance and fantasy elements, heart-pounding scenes of man against nature, and topical currency (thankfully not overplayed) will appeal to a wide variety of readers ...”

Publisher’s Weekly on The Mote In Andrea’s Eye  
1.  Tell us about your current novel.

My current novel, I suppose, is The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, due out in June from Gale/Five Star. This novel is a departure for me, and very personal.  It involves a young girl who suffers the tragic loss of her father in the aftermath of a hurricane.  She grows to be a strong, willful young woman with a mission: she wants to fight and stop hurricanes.

The first part of this novel, the girl’s story, was drawn in great part from my own family’s experiences during Hurricane Isabel.  My daughter Stephanie wrote a journal during that period of time, and I also drew on stories and images from her past to create the character of the young Andrea Jamieson.

Once Andrea grew up, I was in research land, studying Operation Storm Fury, the governments attempt to control or stop hurricanes in the 1960s, which largely fell by the wayside at the outbreak of the Vietnam War.  I also discovered a man named Win Wenger, who had created a pump he believed would help in the fight against world starvation by circulating the silt and cooler water at the bottom of the ocean with burst of air.  He also thought it might stop a hurricane, if applied properly.

The final element came from the love of my life, Patricia Lee Macomber, who asked the casual question – why has a hurricane never disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle?

With those elements, a touch of romance, and a dash of US Navy experience, a novel was born.  I wrote it during the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) challenge in 2004 and sold it two months later, making it 90 days from initial clack of keyboard to sale.  It’s a very clean read, not built on violence, strong language, or bloodshed, but still packed with action – I wrote it so my daughter could read along, and inadvertently created my first young-adult friendly thriller.

2.  Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now?

I wish I could make sense of that myself, at times.  I have a new novel, Vintage Soul, making the rounds in NYC, and I’m currently writing a novel that is being serialized on Amazon.com as part of their Amazon Shorts program.  This novel, The Orffyreus Wheel, is a sort of historical/modern thriller about an invention that a man named Johann Bessler – in theory – created in the 1700s.  The device was a perpetual motion wheel, and though it was witnessed in operation and tested many times, the secret was never revealed as Bessler died an untimely and tragic death.  In The Orffyreus Wheel, of which two parts are now available on Amazon, I parallel the story of Bessler’s life and tragedy with the modern day story of one of his descendants.  It’s a novel of free energy, and what would happen in our world if it ever threatened to exist.  This is a thriller out of the gates, and I’m enjoying it immensely, though it’s challenging to work in both the past, and the present, as well as chopping the novel into ten or so parts that have cliff-hanger enough to bring readers back for the next installment.

I also have a short story collection due out early in 2007 that I’m currently working on with Sarob Press.  This will be titled Defining Moments, after a story that was first published at www.gothic.net – and I’m very excited about it.

3.  What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Though I’m sure I have creditors who would disagree, I’d have to say that moment when someone reads a thing you’ve written – and gets it.  The warmth inside of knowing that you took something from an idea, to words, recorded it and saw it through the long, arduous trail to publication, and it wasn’t in vain.  That Publisher’s Weekly review excerpt above was such a moment.  The feeling of accomplishment is hard to describe.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

It’s always the waiting that gets to me.  I love the process of creation.  I even like revision, now that I’ve matured enough to realize how badly my raw work actually needs it.  What I hate is the time between releasing a story or novel into the mail, or email – and the time someone comes back and says yes, or no.  Even worse is the longer wait for an actual reader to get their hands on the work, read it, and react.  The more things you finish and get into the system at once, the worse this becomes.  It’s terrifying, really.  You can do a thing well all your life and still wonder, the next time, if you got it right.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

If I could offer advice to the publishing world as a whole?  That’s such a broad question.

I guess what I’d like to see in publishing is more of an overall understanding of and love for books throughout the entire process.  Authors and editors too often strain against walls of numbers, marketing strategies, and financial “bottom lines” that impede books from reaching readers, or present them in an improper manner.  If each step of the way could be staffed with readers – people who genuinely cared about the book itself, and not the product it represents, I think we’d see somewhat of a shift in strategy, quality, and eventually in profit.  Good books, treated well, seem a good bet for any investor, and something to be proud of once they are on the shelf.  Once a wheel gets spinning (thank you Orffyreus) it’s hard to divert it or make it stop, particularly if it takes a strong effort to get it spinning in another direction – so the status quo holds a lot of sway in this business, as in any other.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Probably there are, but to be honest, every time I think a writer is out of print I find that someone like Wildside Press, or Nightshade Books has brought them back.  I have a gorgeous set of books by Manly Wade Wellman from Nightshade, and I have Hugh Cave’s Justin Case Mysteries in a fine signed HC ... so I’m not sure that I could name anyone currently that is not available, and that I wish was.  I wish authors like Wellman were more widely known outside genre circles, but that’s an entirely different question.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel.  Most writers never forget that moment.

I’m guessing that the sale of my first novel is a bit unique, even in the circles of writers who live undeniably unique lives.  I was in the US Navy when I attended the first World Horror Convention.  I had just had my story, “A Candle In The Sun,” printed in Starshore Magazine, and picked up for Karl Wagner’s Year’s Best Horror XIX.  I met a man named Robert Eighteen-Bisang, a collector and lover of vampire fiction, and sold him a copy of Starshore.  Before that convention was over, we had talked many times, and he kept insisting that this story needed to be a novel.  I agreed, but didn’t feel quite “up” to it yet.

To make a very long story short, I wrote the novel on a cruise to Europe in 21 Days.  I revised it in five days – feverish writing sessions late into the night – floating in the middle of the ocean with a much dog-eared and annotated New Testament at my side, and Concrete Blonde on the CD Player.  I called Robert from Crete, and I sent him the manuscript.  I called him back a two weeks later, standing on the same beach in Crete, and heard the words: “I have to publish this,” for the first time.

A lot happened, and Robert never did publish that novel – Terminal Frights Press did, but I’ll never forget the moment.

                  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.      

Return to the Ed Gorman index page.

  Return to the Mystery*File  Main Page.