Recently I had the chance to sit down and shoot some questions over to David Wellington, author of Monster Island, Monster Nation, Monster Planet, 13 Bullets, and 99 Coffins. This guy is one hell of a nice guy and agreed to give me an interview here. I love the words he has crafted, and the bottom line… This guy is good at what he does! Are you ready for an new era of horror?
ZM: You have books about zombies, vampires, and werewolves. You definatly go with a horror theme. I’ve read that you started out with Sci-fi in some of your unpublished works when you were younger. Do you have any plans to revisit that genre in the future? Or explore other genres like fantasy or romance?
DW: I never thought of myself as a horror writer, but once you get associated with a given genre it’s hard to break out. The bookstores want to know what shelf to put your books on. Your fans have a certain expectation that your next book will be just like your last one… but different. When an idea comes to me I write it down, whether it’s horror or not; lately I’ve only written horror because I like monsters, because I’ve been thinking a lot about monsters. But I have a book coming soon that’s not horror at all. It’s a Young Adult Thriller, if it needs to be categorized at all. And I’ve got a great idea for a science fiction book with horror elements, set on a planet orbiting a black hole. And I can’t even begin to tell you how many fantasy projects I’d like to do. The only two genres I think I’d feel totally uncomfortable with are what they call “literary” fiction (despite what some writers seem to think, the newest and least developed of the genres) and no-nonsense romance. Though I never like to say never…
ZM: I realize a good amount of the characters and experiences in your books are extensions of your background and real life experiences, have you ever written yourself, as a character, into one of your books, one that you identify with most?
DW: I’ve never put myself in a book consciously, because I think of my own life as so boring nobody would want to read about it. I write, all the time, and when I’m not writing I wish I was writing–my wife has to constantly drag me away from the computer to go to parties or even out for dinner (she’s very patient about it–usually). That being said, after I finish a book I often go back and look at the characters and realize that I’ve been exploring some part of my own psyche with them. Dekalb from Monster Island is probably the most like me, in ways I don’t like to explore.
ZM: If an impending doom-plague of zombies broke out, what would be the first thing you would do, and where on the planet would you go?
DW: Well, first I would panic. Then I’d probably load my wife and my dog and some supplies in our car and drive as far west as we could get. The fewer people around, the fewer zombies and the easier it would be to survive. There are places in the Southwest that would probably hold out quite a while because they’re just about deserted.
ZM: What is your favorite color?
ZM: What is one of your simple fears, for example, I cannot sleep with my feet hanging off the bed (monsters live under there, ya know!) ?
DW: I’m afraid of getting hit in the head by flying objects. I don’t know why, and it’s not like a phobia. But every time I walk through the park and someone is playing baseball with their kid, I kind of subconsciously duck and pull my head in because I expect to get beaned. Maybe it happened once when I was very young–I don’t remember.
ZM: Have you ever seen a UFO?
DW: No. I was obsessed with UFOs for a while in the late 90s, not with the idea that they were real but with the stories that abductees and believers told about them. There was a weird consistency to the stories, as if they couldn’t possibly be making it all up, and some great fantasy ideas came out of the most paranoid ravings. I think my favorite is still Alternative Three, which is the idea that UFOs are actually human spaceships getting ready to take all the rich people to Mars, where they’ll weather out some kind of doomsday back on Earth. I know enough about Mars to know that no matter how bad things might get here, it’s worse there, but still it’s a great story.
ZM: Sometimes when movies are made the director or makers will place an easter egg into the film, for example in I Am Legend there is a Superman/Batman poster. Have you ever written an easter egg into any of your books?
DW: Oh, there’s tons of stuff, most of which wouldn’t make any sense to anyone else. The one that leaps to mind first is that I was getting married while I was writing Monster Island, and my wife demanded to be put in the book. So there’s a zombie in a wedding dress that nearly gets Dekalb. Then there’s the cameo appearances, not so much easter eggs but fun continuity gaffs. I like to think of my books as all taking place in alternate universes. In one universe, there are zombies, in another there are vampires. So there’s an Amish wizard character in Monster Planet (he’s not really Amish, but close enough) who is defending his family against the zombies with particularly ghastly magic. Then he also shows up in the vampire books, which aren’t so apocalyptic, as a good guy. It started out when I killed off a character in Monster Nation, a central character who you never actually see die on the page. The readers started saying he wasn’t dead, even though I left him impaled on a red-hot spar of a crashed helicopter, with zombies crawling toward him. Even after I had some characters discover his very dead body in Monster Planet, people still kept claiming he wasn’t dead–it was just a fun joke on the website. So I had to bring him back for my werewolf book, quite alive and well and living in a peaceful retirement in Colorado. That was fun.
ZM: I also read where you try to remove outside influences when you being to write, do you have any rituals or traditions you go through to get in the mood before you begin? What about when you complete writing one?
DW: Not so much rituals but just conditions I need to write–or I thought I needed them. It had to be perfectly quiet, I had to be alone in the house, and I had to play and win a game of computer solitaire to get my brain jump-started. Then a friend of mine, who is also a writer, told me she writes every single day, regardless of where she is in the world or what’s going on around her. I was amazed by the thought, and inspired. Now I can write on a packed airplane, or in the park with screaming kids running all around me because I have this thing in my head that says I have to write every day no matter what. When I finish a project I don’t do anything else that day. Not a thing–I might eat dinner, and I might watch TV (which I never do otherwise) but I need to decompress and let the book go, if only for a little while before I start revising it.
ZM: What would happen if a Zombie attacked a Vampire? if a Zombie attacked a Werewolf? if a Zombie attacked an Alien?
DW: A zombie that attacked a vampire would get its head ripped off. The vampire would not be affected. A zombie that attacked a werewolf would probably get eaten, which is nicely ironic. The werewolf might get a stomach ache. A zombie that attacked an alien, well, that’s an interesting case. Most likely aliens don’t have DNA like we do because they evolved on a different planet, so they would just be badly injured and probably recover. If their DNA was similar enough to ours, though, you could get zombies in flying saucers. You could get zombies in space. Excuse me, I need to go write something down…
ZM: What were the last 3 books you read?
DW: I’m currently reading and enjoying Broken Wings: Genesis, by Bo Savino, who I met at a Star Trek convention in Florida. Before that I read two Terry Pratchett books: Interesting Times and The Last Continent, which is as close as Pratchett ever gets to writing a true sequel.
ZM: What were the last 3 movies you saw?
DW: Let’s see, Speed Racer (which is brilliant, and I don’t care what you say, I loved it), Iron Man (which is brilliant and I loved it–we all agree on that, right?) and the Battlestar Galactica pilot miniseries, which was brilliant but which I had issues with. When did science fiction get so grim?
ZM: Many thanks for the Interview!
DW: Thank you, Brian.