This all started back when I sent Dave an email asking him for advice on writing and getting published and all that wonderful stuff that comes with creating fiction. He had a contact link on his webpage, and I figured I may as well shoot him a message and see what happened. To my surprise I received a response only a few days later! It was detailed and very helpful.
From there I have had 2 stories purchased that will be published in magazines; so I sent Dave a thank you email with an update, and I asked for an interview. For all of you fans of his work, here is a glimpse into the mind of David Wellington!
Q: When and why did you begin writing?
A: I started writing when I was six, shortly after I learned how to read. I couldn’t find enough good books and so I thought I’d just have to make my own. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. If I had, I probably would have just waited for somebody else to do it.
Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: In one sense, I always did. It was what I wanted to be, and it was what I was working on becoming. It never seemed possible for me to be anything else. In another sense, I didn’t really believe it until I sold my first novel.
Q: Do you have a particular writing process?
A: Not really. I know people who have to have the blinds closed, have the right music on, have to write at the same time everyday… none of that ever made sense to me. I do some of my best work on airplanes, sitting on the floor of hotel room bathrooms (so as not to wake whoever I’m rooming with) or at times when everybody else is asleep. I like to think I could write anywhere, anytime. Which is not to say it’s always easy.
Q: For you, what is the most difficult part about writing?
A: Getting started. Starting a new book, starting a new chapter, starting a new sentence. It’s a struggle every single time. I’ve managed to somehow find ways to get around the impossibility of it–usually.
Q: I can see that posting directly to a blog worked rather well for you; when you posted your material in a serial format how did you edit it?
A: I didn’t! I posted each chapter as it was written, as rough draft. I went back and edited the books later (with the help of professional editors) only when they were published as paper books. The point of that was not to put cruddy stuff online, but to keep the momentum going and the energy high. When I started with Monster Island (my first serial), I mostly just wanted to have fun. I wasn’t worried about publishing the book. So a lot of crazy stuff got into the book that I normally would have edited out. Sometimes that works. More often, it’s a terrible idea.
Q: What advice you would give to a fledging writer trying to get published?
A: Getting published for the first time is the hardest thing any writer ever does. Well, I suppose some of them have to go through childbirth. There really aren’t any rules (if they were, it would be easy). Keep plugging away and eventually you’ll get some traction. Definitely post stuff online–it’s not the same as a paper publication credit (not yet, at least) but every bit helps. The main thing is to keep writing and keep trying. Sorry I can’t give you any better advice than that–it really is that arbitrary. You could go to conventions and pitch people there (the World Horror Convention is known for this), maybe. It does help if the acquiring editor/publisher/etc. meets you face to face. But that’s an expensive way to get a short story published.
Q: Can you tell me a little about any upcoming projects you have?
A: My next book, Overwinter, will be out in September. It’s the sequel to Frostbite, my werewolf novel. After that comes the fifth Laura Caxton vampire novel. I can’t tell you anything about it for risk of spoilers!
Q: I know that most authors hate this question, but what (if anything) inspired your stories?
A: We hate that question because we so rarely have a good answer. Most books don’t just pop into your head fully formed (it’s only happened to me once). It’s a long, complicated process. Monster Island started out as a science fiction idea about an astronaut on the International Space Station. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know there aren’t any astronauts in it. That’s just the way it works–ideas change and mutate constantly, long before you start writing things down. If you’re asking where the ideas come from, I have no idea. It’s one mystery I’ve never investigated very thoroughly because I’m afraid if I find out they’ll stop coming.
Q: What books or authors have influenced you most?
A: Every book a writer reads teaches him something–even if it’s just what not to do. I always feel I’m not so much influenced by any individual author or book, but by a whole genre. Or a meta-genre. The novels and short stories I read in the 80s, and specifically the ones that were, in turn, influenced by the pulps of the 20s and 30s. I’ve always seen my stuff as being just the latest in a long thread of literary tradition. Part of a conversation that’s been going on since at least Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
Q: Are you reading any books right now, and if so what are they?
A: I’m reading fantasy. Specifically Swords and Sorcery stuff. Today, it’s Karl Edward Wagner’s books about his hero, Kane, a rather nasty antihero who keeps saving the world by being completely self-centered and evil. Pretty strong stuff.
Q: Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: Thank you! You allow me to do this. I cannot express how utterly grateful I am to everyone who’s ever read one of my books!
Thank you Dave for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us! And for all of you readers out there, make sure to pick up Overwinter this fall!