Friday 17 May 2013

Q & A with David Niall Wilson

Title:  Nevermore - A Novel of Love, Loss, & Edgar Allan Poe

Author:  David Niall Wilson

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

Page Count:  224

Read It & Read Date:  November 7, 2013 

Book Description: 
On the banks of Lake Drummond, on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp, there is a tree in the shape of a woman.

On one dark, moonlit night, two artists met at The Lake Drummond Hotel, built directly on the borderline of North Carolina and Virginia. One was a young woman with the ability to see spirits trapped in trees, and stone, anchored to the earth beyond their years. Her gift was to draw them, and then, to set them free. The other was a dark man, haunted by visions that brought his stories of sadness and pain, and trapped in a life between the powers he sensed all around him, and a mundane existence attended by failure. They were Eleanore MacReady, Lenore, to her friends, and a young poet named Edgar Allen Poe, who traveled with a crow that was his secret, and almost constant companion, a bird named Grimm for the talented brothers of fairy-tale fame.

Their meeting drew them together in vision, and legend, and pitted their strange powers and quick minds against the depths of the Dismal Swamp itself, ancient legends, and time.

Once, upon a shoreline dreary, there was a tree. This is her story.

While you are there, stop by the Nevermore giveaway on Goodreads and enter to win one of five signed hardcovers!


Q & A with David Niall Wilson

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main characters.

A:  The characters in Nevermore are going to be both familiar, and new to readers. My protagonist, as you might guess from the cover, is Edgar Allan Poe. Also in this novel, readers will meet Eleanore MacReady – Lenore to her friends, a crow named Grimm, a swamp witch named Nettie, and a host of others. I have written Poe as I imagine him; a storyteller whose life has been a series of tragedies, but who turns that pain and sorrow inward and released it through his words. He is also something of a mage, as is Lenore, in her own way.

Lenore is a very giving, very driven artist with a particular gift. She and Edgar are drawn to the Lake Drummond Hotel by different forces; or at least it seems so at the outset. The two meet, and the attraction is deep, but there is little time to explore this before things begin moving beyond their control.

Q:  Why/How did you decide to write a book with Edgar Allen Poe as a character?
A:  Actually, this entire novel was an accident. In the fourth book of my series, The DeChance Chronicles, Kali's Tale, my protagonist, Donovan DeChance, leads a group of people over the very spot where The Lake Drummond Hotel stood. At the time my research was spotty, and I just called it the "Halfway House." He also mentioned the rumor to them that Poe had visited the place, and hinted (he's older than most men by a very large number of years) that he'd met the poet there himself. He promised to tell the story when the adventure they were embroiled in came to an end.

What I'd intended to do was to begin the next DeChance novel with a flashback where Donovan shared that meeting with a few others, leading into a larger story. When I began writing the flashback, I found that it had developed into something much, much more. In fact, though Donovan only makes a very short appearance at the end of Nevermore, I'm thinking of hinting that Nevermore is really Book 4.5 of the DeChance Chronicles, because, though I go over all of the elements of the novel in a lengthy introduction to the next book – I suggest before people read it that – to get the full story – they read Nevermore. The novel is romantic, and tragic, and that is not how I prefer to leave a romance… Saying any more on that would spoil the next book.

On top of this accidental discovery, I am a fan of Poe's work. In particular, since childhood, I've been drawn to the poem The Raven. It was research on where and when he might have first written it that brought me to his visit to Lake Drummond, and the possibility he might have written and early draft of the poem very close to where I now live – just on the border of The Great Dismal Swamp.

The other half of the story – Lenore's story – also came from local folklore. There really is a pair of trees near the shore of Lake Drummond, one in the shape of a fleeing deer, the other in the shape of a woman. I long ago imagined a character with the gift I bestowed on Lenore for this novel – it seemed the perfect time to write that story as well.

Q:  What kind of research did you do for your book?
A:  It was hard work. The setting – The Lake Drummond Hotel – was a famously dark place. It only stood for about 12 years. It was built directly on the borderline of North Carolina and Virginia – half the rooms on either side, with a saloon in the center. All kinds of outlaws and troublemakers ended up there, as well as many famous people passing through. With the borderline in the middle, it was possible for couples from Virginia to cross over and marry, taking advantage of the younger age and looser laws of matrimony in North Carolina. Duels were fought across the border, making it difficult for lawmen on either side to arrest and prosecute those involved.

For all that, there is little written about the place. I dug through old journals, scanned records, newspapers and any source I could find. I read legends about The Great Dismal Swamp, poetry by Poe and others about Lake Drummond itself, and a good deal about the Intercoastal Waterway that ran right behind the hotel, all the way from Florida up to Virginia.

Then there was research on Poe, the dates of his work, his wife's illness – and that was just the preliminary work. In the middle I found myself accidentally bringing The Brother's Grimm into the tale when I discovered that they wrote a fairy tale titled…"The Raven."

Q:  How would you describe your writing style?
A:  I have a very narrative style. I like to build setting and picture things in my mind. I am particularly interested in characters – their dialogue, their thoughts, their motivations. My work has at times reminded others of Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King – which I find rather confusing, as I don't believe any of the three to be very similar. I guess what I'm saying is that if I have a particular style, it's in constant development. I learn from nearly everything I experience and read. I also learn from editing the work of others. I hope that my style never becomes too easy to nail down, but Publisher's Weekly seems to believe that I am fond of allegory, and I won't deny that. Since a lot of my work starts with an idea of how something that we all know has happened might have happened differently, I try to form my style of the moment around whatever project currently fascinates me. That fascination started with my first novel, which is sort of a cult classic, This is My Blood, another romance, of sorts, involving a retelling of The Gospel, and the stories of Mary Magdalene, Judas, and even Lilith.

Q:  What do you see as influences on your writing?
A:  Starting with the obvious, I'm sure that the huge amounts of Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub and others that I've read are influences. My reading is extremely diverse, though, and I'd have to add in Dickens, Tolkein, Tanith Lee, J. K. Rowling and Joe R. Lansdale, all for very different reasons.

I think as much as I depend on my experiences as a reader and editor, it's my life that has provided the most magic. I spent twenty years traveling the world in the US Navy. I was a member of a motorcycle club. I studied to be a minister. I have met amazing people, done amazing things – both intriguing and stupid – and survived them all. Life is our biggest influence, and the more of it we experience, the greater the reach our stories can achieve.

Then there is music. I love to play music. I love to listen to it. I can tell you what I listened to while writing almost every one of my thirty plus books. I lean toward dark music, minor chords, and harmony. One song I listened to while writing Nevermore was among the only country songs to ever haunt me Kasey Lansdale's "Edge of Dark Water." If you have not heard this – written to accompany her father's novel – you should.

Q:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A:  There were short periods where I thought I might be a lawyer or politician. As I mentioned, I once studied to be a minister. Behind it all though, I have – since about age 15 – told people who asked that I was a writer. Much of the time I told people that I had nothing to show for it. I wrote poetry and stories in High School, even won awards for it, but from the point I graduated it was several years before I actually got serious and did something about it. Writing is something I can't imagine not doing, so I guess I knew from an early age I'd write – just not when, or what. I was encouraged at the time to find that Lincoln had written a huge two-volume set worth of words and still got to be President Lincoln before he was done.

Q:  Do you have any hidden talents?
A:  Not so much hidden, I don't think… I bake pies. I even wrote the book "American Pies, Baking with Dave the Pie Guy" and had it published. I play guitar just well enough to get tips in the park – my voice is about that level too – but not well enough to do it for a living. I play cello and saxophone as well. I love animals and have a small zoo worth in my house. I seem to be able to pick a TV show, or a book, or a song on the radio long before it "hits" and predict success, but not to be able to emulate that success with my own work.

Q:  What book are you reading now?
A:  I'm reading one, and listening to one. The book I'm reading is titled Silver Bullet. It's the third book in The Order of The Air – by Melissa Scott & Jo Graham. I'm the publisher of the series, and this is my first read through of this third book. I absolutely love it. It's set in the 1930s. The book is about a group – a "Lodge" who work to help maintain the balance of powers beyond the understanding of the masses. They include three pilots, a Russian Jewel Thief, a Professor of antiquities, and an array of very intriguing people – including in this third book, Nikola Tesla. While I am biased, I would count this as the best new series I've read in years, starting with Lost Things, the first book, which was all about The Goddess Diana and Airships, moving on to the recently released Steel Blues where the group is caught in a cross-country air race, and distracted by a New Orleans axe murderer. Highly recommended.

At the same time, on my drive to and from work, I'm listening to William Bayer's Trick of Light, the second of his Kay Farrow mysteries about a San Francisco photographer who can't see colors at all, and gets caught up in some very odd situations. This was written under the pen name David Hunt. The narrator is Talmadge Ragan, and the audio is wonderful.

About the Author:
David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer 's Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award. He lives outside Hertford, NC with the love of his life, Patricia Lee Macomber, His children Zane and Katie, occasionally their older siblings, Stephanie, who is in college, and Bill and Zach who are in the Navy, and an ever-changing assortment of pets.

David is CEO and founder of Crossroad Press, a cutting edge digital publishing company specializing in electronic novels, collections, and nonfiction, as well as unabridged audiobooks and print titles.

Twitter: @David_N_Wilson



1 comment:

  1. I have been remiss in not mentioning that this novel is ALSO an unabridged audiobook, available at - narrated by the AMAZING Gigi Shane. If you download the eBook from Amazon, this is "Whispersync for Voice" ready, meaning, you can buy the audiobook for only $1.99 additional. It's right here at Audible though: