MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing David Niall Wilson today. David has been writing professionally since the 1980s. He has more than sixteen novels and 200 short stories published and has won the Bram Stoker Award for poetry and for short fiction. He is an ex-president of the Horror Writer’s Association and an ordained minster. David lives and writes on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina with the love of his life, Patricia Lee Macomber, their children Stephanie, Billy, Zachar, Zane, and Katie, two brainless Pekingese and a chinchilla named Pook Daddy. David is CEO and founder of Crossroad Press, publishing e-books and professional level audio books. His personal web page is http://www.davidniallwilson.com/ and the publishing site is http://www.crossroadpress.com/catalog
Vampire novels began your career, with White Wolf. Were these stories based on the vampire LARP games? Were you limited in any way because of this?
WILSON: First off, my career (at least by publication date) started with the sale of my stand-alone vampire novel, THIS IS MY BLOOD, followed by the actual publication of CHRYSALIS, my Star Trek Voyager novel.
To answer the question, yes, the White Wolf novels I wrote were all written in their “World of Darkness” and were always intended as companion fiction to their games. The vampires were required to be part of a known clan, to have the proper abilities, and in many cases the novels – while I plotted them – had a particular outcome that was required to further the overall story arc the publishers / editors had in mind. Yes, it was a bit restrictive, but I had a lot of fun with it. Recently I wrote the novel VINTAGE SOUL, which came out in hardcover this past December. It’s the first in a series titled “The DeChance Chronicles” that is written in much the same style and “feel” of my White Wolf novels.
VENTRELLA: You’ve used religion in your writing. What sort of research did you do to prepare?
WILSON: Well, just about every biographical note concerning me will mention that I’m an ordained minister. While that’s a bit tongue in cheek, I spent many years of my youth studying for just that purpose. It wasn’t until about my second year in the US Navy that I determined most (if not all) organized religion was merely an excuse for a small group of people to take control of a larger group by making crazy rules and blaming it on supernatural entities. I left the church behind, but not before I was pretty well versed in The Bible and most denominations who claim to live by it.
VENTRELLA: For the benefit of those unaware, can you describe the plot to THIS IS MY BLOOD?
WILSON: It is a retelling of the gospel from a very different perspective. When Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted by the devil, there is one temptation added. One of the fallen is raised as a woman to tempt him with the flesh. Instead, the woman, named Mary, falls in love with Jesus and his promise of returning her to Heaven.
Cursed to follow him and drink the blood of his followers, Mary walks a fine line between her desire to love and support the Christ, and her burning need to return to Heaven. This novel takes the world of faith, which was the world of men, and of the apostles, and shows it through the eyes of a fallen angel – one who has, in her own words, walked the roads of both Heaven, and Hell. She doesn’t believe there is a God … she knows.
Faithful to the storyline of the original gospels, only weaving in new things when there are gaps in the old, this is a novel of faith, redemption, and ultimate sacrifice.
It’s also my shot at that aforementioned organized religion. In this novel Mary knows that there is a Heaven, and a Hell. She has no need of faith, and this frees her to comment on the lack of belief, harmony, and strength in the apostles … not to mention I’ve always thought Judas got a bad deal, and had fun correcting that as well.
VENTRELLA: Have you received any negative response to your books which use religion as the core?
WILSON: Not a bit. In fact, more than one person (recently, even) has told me that the work has given them new perspective on the Christian faith. So far as I know the only time it’s been an issue was when a German publisher said they could not publish it because they were backed in great part by The Vatican.
VENTRELLA: Have you ever had an idea that bit at you but you couldn’t make work?
WILSON: Not so far. I have had moments where I had an idea I knew to be very, very good, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. The first time this happened was when I sat down to write THIS IS MY BLOOD. Oddly, the project I’ve just started feels that way, though after all the years and words, I’m less worried whether I can do it than I am whether I’m ready to do it…I guess time will tell.
VENTRELLA: Writing a short story is much different from writing a novel. What are the difficulties you have found?
WILSON: I’ve always been good with short fiction (I suppose that explains the award). I have noticed, though, that if you spend most of your time writing novels, it can be more difficult to go back to short form with success. You have to change your focus – sort of like the difference between a snapshot and a movie. A short story usually winds around a single conflict, while a novel can have multiple related plots that wind in and around one another. You have to be a lot more careful with your words in the short form and waste none of them.
VENTRELLA: Why do you think some authors specialize in one or the other?
WILSON: Part of it is a difference in career focus. It’s not impossible to make a living with short fiction, but it’s almost as rare as making a career of being a poet. If you want to reach larger audiences and make a mark, it’s necessary to move into longer forms at some point.
For some, creating short stories is the focus. They love theme anthologies, magazines, and collections, and I admire authors who can maintain that focus. As for myself, I write short fiction when time allows, but my focus has largely shifted to novels and screenplays.
VENTRELLA: Do you think the public is sick of vampire stories yet? Will there be a saturation point? (As an aside, I hope not, given my next book…)
WILSON: I don’t think vampires are going anywhere soon. They are very versatile, shifting to fit whatever the fiction style du jour might be. Today they are mostly just characters in bigger stories. In the old school vampire novels, the fact that there were vampires WAS the story. Now they are just characters with a different set of needs, powers, and goals. They’re not going to disappear on us in the foreseeable future.
VENTRELLA: What work of yours would you advise as a starting point for your books and why?
WILSON: It depends entirely on what sort of fiction you enjoy. My most enduring work is THIS IS MY BLOOD, while my personal favorite so far is DEEP BLUE. My latest is VINTAGE SOUL, and I’m hoping that will launch a series that sort of falls halfway between White Wolf and Harry Dresden. I’ve written science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, dark fantasy, and horror. There’s something available out there for nearly everyone.
VENTRELLA: I note that you do not limit your blog to your writing only, and instead discuss whatever you want. What sort of feedback do you receive? Do your fans appreciate this, skip past it, or does it matter?
WILSON: I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the blog, and I have to say, I can’t imagine the purpose of a blog other than to share what’s on your mind. There’s only so much one can write about their work, and if you want to actually create rapport with readers, you have to be willing to give something in return. I am personally turned off by and uninterested in blogs that cover nothing but a writer’s work. It feels like an advertisement rather than a connection.
VENTRELLA: And finally: What advice would you give to an aspiring author that you wish someone had given you?
WILSON: Not sure that it was not given to me and ignored, but I’d say the best advice in today’s writing world is to not get caught up in blogs, websites, hunting for agents, worrying over markets, self-publishing, and “branding” to the point that you forget the most important thing. If you don’t write, write well, and then write some more, all the rest is a waste of time.