Ginger Nuts of Horror
David is originally from a small town in upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people who like to eat human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of The Unhinged, Witch Island, Apartment 7C, Relic of Death, Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls as well as others and the forthcoming Skinner (Darkfuse), Episodes of Violence (Sinister Grin Press), and Goblins of Roanoke (Samhain). He is also a co-author of Jackpot. David writes all kinds of horror, from atmospheric to gore-filled, to extreme, sci fi horror, bizarre and apocalyptic.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I enjoy long walks through dark alleys and slaughter houses. No, really. Um. I spend so much time writing it seems like it’s all I do besides go to my day job and watch television. I used to study martial arts. I don’t like speaking in public. Hate it. My girlfriend is a great reader and usually winds up reading for me at conventions. But I love going to conventions and meeting new people and fellow authors and publishers.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read, and not just for enjoyment (which is the main reason) but to improve my craft. I mostly read horror, but I do like thrillers and some fantasy too. I also watch a lot of television and movies. The couch is my friend! I don’t have a specific type of show. I watch everything from cop shows to horror to drama—unlike what I like to read. Weird, I guess.
What’s your favourite food?
That’s a toss up between pizza and hamburgers, but I think pizza beats out the burger by a bit.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
I don’t listen to a lot of music. Growing up, I did. I was a metal head (Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus, etc) When I do listen to music, it can be anything from 80’s pop to heavy metal to 70’s rock and even classical. I also enjoy bands like The Killers and Raconteurs. It all depends on the mood, but I do not listen to music when I write. I need complete silence.
Tell us a dirty little secret?
Once, when I was a child, my mom dressed me in a white suit to go out to a dinner party. I snuck out of the house and she found me playing in the dirt right before we were going to leave. (Didn’t expect that kind of an answer, did you! But it’s true.) Okay, for real…that I didn’t read Boy’s Life until this year. Wow, what a great read.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Where to start . . . Pay more attention in school. Not jump into graduate school until I knew what I wanted to do. (School loans suck!) I spent a lot of my youth partying, playing video games and fooling around. I wish I had started writing earlier, but I just wasn’t ready I guess. I always had ideas, but never the focus. I guess it came with age.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I don’t really get into bad situations. I’ve been lucky I guess. (Knocks on wood)
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I’m sticking with horror. There are so many, but here are a few and in no particular order. Stephen King. Robert McCammon. Ray Garton. Wrath James White. David Dunwoody, Nate Southard, Simon Clark, Jack Ketchum, Tim Waggoner, Tim Curran . . . I could go on. I’m not really a favorite type of person with anything. I like too many things!
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Again, that’s a toss up. I’ll say David Dunwoody’s The Harvest Cycle. It’s simply an epic apocalyptic adventure with so much detail and character and fun. Then we have Boy’s Life. I know. I know. I’m a McCammon fan, but for some reason I never got around to reading Boy’s Life until this year.
As far as a disappointing title goes . . . my mouth is sealed!
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
The Talisman. The novel is epic and has it all. The Thing (John Carpenter’s version). I can watch the movie over and over and never get bored. It’s pure horror at it’s finest and holds up today with no problem.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
That someone (usually a female) has to fall when running from the bad guy/monster.
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour? Harry Potter. I’d make him take me to Hogwarts and I’d enroll.
Nightmare neighbor is Freddy Krueger. There’s just no escaping that guy.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
No character comes to mind. There’s plenty, but they were all killed off in the books. I’m sure there’s one out there, but I can’t think of it. But what I can do is name a fictional character I’d have killed off instead of leaving him how they did. Dexter. Terrible ending to the tv show. I would’ve killed him off rather than have him end up where he ended up.
And if you had free range what fictional character would you like to write for?
Tough question. I guess it would have to be someone from a television show that got cancelled and things were left unfinished. There have been plenty of them, but the tv show Southland is one of them. It was cancelled with a huge event untold. Really pissed me off. I’d also like to write a Firefly adventure.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think it’s small, but strong and thriving. Small press and the e-book have been a great thing for horror. The horror community is a close knit group made up of people that support each other. As far as movies go, they’re being pumped out by the boatload it seems. Some good, some terrible. But it’s great!
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
Just the word “horror.” I believe horror is so broad, but when people hear the word, they turn away or make a face and think “blood and guts.” There are plenty of James Patterson novels filled with blood and guts and rape. Awful stuff, yet people gobble it up. For some reason, “dark fiction” is a safer word to use if you want to attract a wider audience. Horror can be atmospheric, slasher, supernatural or real life. For some reason, the word will always be a negative term for most people. Yet, horror films make plenty of money. There’s some kind of disconnect with readers, not moviegoers. I guess a lot of horror moviegoers aren’t readers.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I’ve been happy with how my work is being received. I get many more positive reviews than negative and that’s what we authors strive for. I can’t complain. The ones that stay with me the most are the ones from fellow scribes. It means a lot when a fellow author sends me a note telling me how much they enjoyed one of my books.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Starting out. The beginning is always the toughest. Second would be describing my characters. I could write an entire novel with almost no description of the characters. I have to make an effort to make sure I describe them. Readers really seem to like this. Lol. Yet when there’s an action scene, I use lots of detail.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
Not really. Anything is game.
What do you think makes a good story?
The story itself and the characters. It’s a safe answer, but it’s true. I seem to be a story first writer, but I’ve been trying to change that. I like cool monsters, twists in the tale and trying to disturb the reader or make them think—cool! And if you have shitty characters, ones no one cares about, the reader won’t remember the book as much.
How important are names to you in your books?
The names of my characters just pop into my head when I get to them. Very rarely do I change them. They just seem right at the moment. The only time I might do something weird is when I use a demon name or something and it’s taken from another language. In my novel, Damaged Souls, the demon’s name is Munyok, which in Hebrew translates to calling someone an idiot or asshole. (Got that one from my girlfriend.)
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
First, PATIENCE. Patience for writing, patience for waiting for publishers to get back to you, then to get back to you with your edited manuscript, then for people to purchase the book, then for reviewers to leave reviews. Next, THICK SKIN. You’re not going to be able to please every reader, so let the one and two star reviews roll off your flesh like water. Don’t respond and don’t let it get to you. The Bible has the most one star reviews of any book. What does that tell you? Finally, DETERMINATION and FOCUS to write and get the damn book done. If you can finish a novel/novella, you’ll already be WAY ahead of so many others.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
To write. Just write. To stick with it and write.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
I wrote a short story where one reviewer said it was SO boilerplate. Even that’s not bad. I don’t really focus on such things. There have been negative reviews where people state why they didn’t like a book. But nothing nasty.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’m getting a headache just thinking about it. Well, there are a number of things I do. I usually do a Goodreads giveaway for paperbacks. I use Facebook to promote (NOT excessively). I join groups on Goodreads, like the horror aficionados. I go to conventions and meet and greet readers and other authors. I’ve also found sharing your work with fellow authors and talking about each other’s work is very helpful. The whole cross promotion thing. I send my work out to review sites (ones the publishers do not send them to). I’ve messaged reviewers, met them at conventions and so forth. Over time, I’ve built a relationship. Promoting one’s work kinda sucks, but it’s something an author MUST do. There’s so much competition out there and you need to let people know about your work. A great book might never get read if it isn’t known about.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
That’s easy. It’s Riley Winchester, the main character from Amongst the Dead. She’s young and tough. She never got to see the old world, the world before the fall. She only knows death and violence, yet she is a good person and holds out hope that there are others like her and her father. And she’s a great shot with her rifle.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Not sure about a least favourite. The Man With the Scar from my novel The Unhinged is a real nasty piece of work. I don’t even mention his name. I mean, he’s as sick as they come. I’d say I dislike him the most, but at the same time, he’s a fun character to write about.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Amongst the Dead. Not because it’s my best work, (though it could be,) but because it was the first novel I had written. It takes a lot to finish a book. I not only did that, but I got it published with Don D’Auria after meeting with him at a convention. I’d been reading Leisure titles for years. Amongst the Dead will always be my first; the book that got me in the door to being published.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
No, I have to say I’ve been happy with everything I’ve published.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
That’s tough because I don’t write the same “type” of dark fiction/horror all the time. Amongst the Dead is a gore-filled zombie tale, while Damaged Souls and Witch Island are supernatural slasher types, old school horror. Apartment 7C is psychological with hardcore gore horror in it too. Relic of Death is not gory at all, but dark and the main character (if you will) is a briefcase. The story deals with people’s greed and its consequences. The Unhinged is as extreme as horror gets (and reviewers agree!) and is not supernatural. If I had to pick one, I’d say Damaged Souls has a little of everything, but ask my girlfriend and she’ll say Witch Island. Others seem to love The Unhinged because I take it to the extreme.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished up a novel for Darkfuse called Skinner. Now I’m working on my next Samhain title, Goblins of Roanoke. It deals with the legend of The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Next, I’ll be writing a novel for Great Old Ones Publishing (The Sludge is the tentative title) and then a novel called, Episodes of Violence, (it’s going to be sick!) for Sinister Grin Press, who also published Jackpot, a novella I co-wrote with Shane McKenzie, Adam Cesare and Kristopher Rufty.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
No idea. Maybe: Do you have any unpublished novels lying around? The answer would be NO. Everything I’ve written has been published.