Hello! I'm very excited to kick off the first of many interviews with people in independent horror. The first up to bat is none other than David Dunwoody. When I first discovered independent horror Dave was one of the first people to befriend me. He has been an honest and supportive friend for as long as i have known him. When I posted something on my facebook asking for interview volunteers he was first in line.
Also, he writes great freakin' horror! He is the author of one of my all-time favorite zombie novels (Empire) and the wicked dark Unbound and Other Tales. I was lucky enough to corner David and ask him a few questions.....
Q. Let’s start at the beginning….tell me about your influences. Now, by this I mean anything that influences the darkness you scribe, not just the authors that inspired you. But be sure to throw them in too. Why does Dave Dunwoody write horror instead of romance novels?
A. Maybe it's because I largely define myself and others by our fears, or because I think the pallor of a supernatural beast casts an interesting light on the human condition. Those are certainly a couple of the reasons why I adore Lovecraft and Barker so much. But as far as the raw ideas that influence me, a great deal of them come from my nightmares. When I say "nightmare" I don't necessarily mean a dream that makes me afraid or uncomfortable. THOSE sort of nightmares are boring. Those nightmares have me unable to remember my locker com at school, or working again for the IRS.
No, the nightmares that inspire me are certainly strange and frightful, but I awaken with a feeling of excitement. I recently started work on a story which is based on a nightmare from several months ago. I wasn't able to fully wrap my head around it until another nightmare last month. I don't know what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but I always go to sleep hoping I'll receive another bizarre transmission.
Q. Can you remember your first published piece?
A. My first published work of fiction would be "Franchise" in The Hacker's Source magazine back in 2004. It's a story about a writer and his demons (I didn't know dick back then about being a professional writer, but I knew demons) and is one of the stories that led to the titular novel in my most recent collection, UNBOUND & OTHER TALES.
Q. What have you been working on lately?
A. I've got a slew of new zombie stories floating around right now, being considered by various markets...recently completed editing and saw the formatted version of my Lovecraftian sci-fi/apocalyptic novel, THE HARVEST CYCLE...and in September I'll be starting work on a new novel.
Q. Fast zombies or slow zombies?
A. Both, and any other type that's out there. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is my favorite zombie flick (though it's often forced to duke it out with DAWN '78) because of the wild variety of undead and the possibilities it opened up in my young imagination. Like any other zombiphile, I worship Romero and I do draw a line where I have to say, "These aren't zombies to me," but I'm willing to check out anything and I think it's great that so many different visions of the zompocalypse are being realized in print, particularly in the small press.
Q. My favorite character of your creation is Sharpe from Unbound. One bad mofo. Can you tell me about him and his universe?
A. That story I mentioned earlier, "Franchise," was an update of something I wrote back when I was 17 (back when I knew even less about writers and demons). That was the first Sharpe story. Sharpe is a murderous modern-day outlaw and the fictional creation of an author named Matthew Rudd. In UNBOUND, it seems that Sharpe has come to life in some form. This may sound like a familiar premise - Pygmalion with a homicidal twist, or some split-personality retread - but just when you begin to understand the truth, the novel takes a violent turn into left field. Then another. And you're in no man's land. The mystery surrounding Sharpe reveals another world where every ancient legend and tall tale is true.
Q. Whiskey, water, or coffee?
A. In that order.
Q. Okay, I’ve waited as many questions as I could, when is Empire 2 coming out? And for the love of Cthulhu tell me a little about it!
A. I think the timetable for EMPIRE 2 hinges on the performance of the first book's re-release by Simon & Schuster. Things are going well so far, but there's always room for one more, as Death might say - so check it out!
(Possible EMPIRE spoilers follow)
The sequel picks up with the Reaper continuing to hunt zombies in a world that has been ravaged for more than a century. This time, he's trying to track down the survivors of the first book, who have relocated to a safe zone where the
Q. How far would you make it through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory?
A. I'd flip out in that claustrophobic hallway. I don't even think I'd get any goddamn candy. What's that guy's problem?
(Interviewer note: He is a sugar Sadist.)
Q. Who said, “You wanna’ toe? I can get you a toe, by three o’clock; with nail polish?”
A. A lot of people would credit John Goodman with that line, but they just don't know the real story of Ronald McDonald.
Q. Where do you think independent horror will be in three and a half years?
A. Still independent. That's the only sure answer I can give. Three and a half years? What happens in 2014? Are you threatening me?
(Interviewer note: David is a wee bit paranoid.)
Q. Can I get your opinions on the recent rash old horror movie remakes?
A. I think any remake - warranted or not - can be interesting. But most of them are horseshit. Then again, most movies are horseshit. I'm not trying to be all "fuck the man," but really, most mainstream content is watered-down crap by definition. It's just becoming more blatant with this remake epidemic. I'd take a dozen DTV sequels over a reboot any day.
...With exceptions, of course. There are some recent remakes I dig. I like it when a filmmaker really tries to reimagine the concept and make a NEW movie, even if it doesn't work.
Q. Speaking of that what’s your favorite Disney movie?
(Interviewer note: Hells yes!)
Q. Quick, name drop five great independent talents!
A. James Melzer, Gregory L. Hall, Louise Bohmer, Peter Clines...and that Moon guy!
That's right off the top of my head. I could go on and on. I'm honored to know so many rising talents in the small press, and I can't name them all. I'm going to get in trouble now. Damn you.
(Interviewer note: I did this to David on purpose.
because I'm a devious bastard. For a guy that writes darker than Lovecraft's tomb he is a social butterfly. If he could of he would have listed everyone he knows. Dave, I'm twisting that into a blurb, somehow, someway.)
Q. Do you have any advice for the aspiring horror writer?
A. 1 - Read. Always read. Read different genres. As John Green said, it's a writer's only true apprenticeship. 2 - Welcome criticism and consider constructive comments, even if you ultimately don't agree. And, as I read somewhere: if you believe all the good comments about your work, you've got to take the negatives into account as well. 3 - and this one I didn't steal from somebody else - PROSTRATE YOURSELF BEFORE THE COSMIC SLUG. SWEAR ETERNAL LOYALTY TO HIS OBSCENE WILL!
Okay, I stole that one from Nicholas Sparks.
DEATH MATCH QUESTION……
Q. Okay, Dave, it’s the tag team match of the millennia and I need you to describe it. I’ll give you the competitors and the location and in a thousand words or less describe the carnage. In one corner H.P. Lovecraft and a mystery Monster God tag team partner! In the other corner Stephen King and a hideous beast of his creation! The battle ground is the campus grounds of
A. Oh boy. Brace yourself Jon - extreme fanboy turbulence ahead.
I'm sorely tempted to pit my favorite Mythos deity, Nyarlathotep, against the Lovecraftian entity from my favorite novel, IT - but I don't know that either could truly be killed! The collateral damage might very well wipe us all out before the smoke ever cleared. If these beings were to come into conflict over a common interest - say, a community and its weak-willed human residents - I think each would employ said humans in their battle of wills. Perhaps a group of Nyarlathotep worshippers versus "dogsbodies" spellbound by It in order to perform grunt work. And those probably wouldn't even do physical battle, at least not at first.
But where's the fun in that?
So rather than that or a battle across psychic planes, let's take an avatar of Nyarlathotep, and one of It, and pit them against one another in a proper comic-book style deathmatch.
Mr. King has just finished a Q&A at MU and is crossing the campus when the sky goes dark. Pitch dark. Every fragment of light blotted from the sky by an oppressive blanket of black clouds.
Lovecraft is back, and with the Shining Trapezohedron has summoned the fearsome Haunter of the Dark! The bat-like silhouette rises behind Lovecraft, somehow darker than the sudden night which surrounds it - save for a fiery three-lobed eye from which King recoils in mortal terror. It is only his horror-writer reflexes that save his life, for the Haunter's gaze can strike its victims dead.
Now, King has his own ace in the hole - hole meaning the sewer opening at the bottom of the sloping quad. A metal grate explodes outward, scissoring two gaping co-eds in half as the monstrous Spider tears out onto the lawn! Fifteen feet in height, with massive, crushing mandibles and hatefully-gleaming eyes, the Spider rears up in front of King, standing between him and the Haunter.
The Spider's form is not Its true one, but it is the closest approximation that the terrified onlookers' minds can comprehend. For this reason the Spider is trapped in this physical body, and must enter into battle - and It does.
It leaps into the air as the Haunter streaks forward, latching onto the belly of the flying beast and sinking Its dripping stinger into the thing's bloated midsection. The Haunter lets out a piercing sound, and as its burning eye surveys the campus, freshmen are dropping dead left and right. Somehow, despite this terrible darkness, they are able to observe the two monsters as they crash into the side of the math building. The Haunter beats its wings furiously, pinning the Spider there, grinding Its back into shattered brick and glass. The Spider thrusts the hot stinger deeper. The Haunter glares down into the Spider's eyes. Two entities empowered by fear lock gazes, and for one fraction of a second, each sees what writhes beneath the glamour of the other.
The Spider mewls and thrusts the Haunter away with all Its strength. The stinger pulls free. The Spider crashes to the sidewalk below, followed by a rain of debris from the building.
Stunned both by fear and pain, It scuttles uncertainly toward King, who barks at it like he's at a Red Sox game. Lovecraft's expression is stoic as his hand directs the Haunter to pursue It.
The Haunter instead circles slowly overhead. What it glimpsed, albeit briefly - albeit contained by Its physical form - makes the Haunter hesitate to attack. It can't look into the Spider's eyes again.
Meanwhile, the stumbling arachnid plows into a campus security officer, pulping him against his patrol car. The Spider shakes Itself back into awareness and turns toward Lovecraft. Races forward with horrifying speed.
The Haunter's wings drop over It, and the Spider feels itself ripped into the air and flung. The black world spins around It. Glass shrieks as it plows through the skylight of the new gymnasium, splashing down in the lukewarm water of the swimming pool.
The Haunter swoops through the opening. The Spider scrabbles out of the water. An unlucky dozen onlookers had run into the building to seek shelter, and now find themselves face-to-face with both nightmares. The Spider lances a girl on Its foreleg and hurls her at the Haunter. The flying beast swats her into the far wall and drops down.
The other students crumple, some falling into the pool, as the tri-lobed glower of the Haunter strikes down each in turn. There is now only Nyarlathotep and It. The building shudders as the Haunter's wings churn the air just over the Spider's weaving head.
But the Haunter has made a fatal error. It has slain all those who held the Spider in their eye line, whose shared vision kept It trapped in this form.
It knows what Nyarlathotep, in this avatar, fears. It knows the fiend's weakness - light. And now it can open its eyes wide and draw the Haunter into what it glimpsed before
and with a baleful cry, the Haunter is torn asunder, bleeding away into shadow even as the artificial night over the campus fades.
The Spider cannot enjoy its victory. It is weak. It lumbers through the double doors and back to the sewer, giving King a nasty look as it passes him by.
"I didn't think I had a snowball's chance in Hell," King murmurs.
Lovecraft tells him, "Your Spider dreads a different sort of agelessness. Nyarlathotep is no child."
"So...next time?" King says.
"Next time...I think I'll play Abdul Alhazred."
"That frees up Flagg for me." King shakes Lovecraft's hand and starts off. Good day. He sees the halved sewer grating embedded in his car's hood and mutters, "Shit."
Somewhere, Lovecraft smiles.
You find find more of Dave at his amazon authors page.....
Or, he is fancy enough to have a website named after him, check it out for news and links to FREE stories.... www.daviddunwoody.com
NEXT TIME.....David Naughton-Shires!!!!