Ginger Nuts of Horror
David Oppegaard is the author of the Bram Stoker nominated The Suicide Collectors and Wormwood, Nevada. David grew up in the small town of Lake Crystal, MN and wrote his first book at the age of fifteen, a 400-page science fiction novel. Since then, he has written several more novels, some published, most not, and is currently working on his 10th novel. Each book has been different, ranging somewhere between literary fiction, speculative fiction, horror fiction, and dark fantasy.
David holds a B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College and an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University. A finalist for the Indiana Review Fiction Award and the Iowa Fiction Award, David has worked as an optician, a receptionist at the U of MN, a standardized test scorer, a farm hand, an editorial assistant, a trash picker for St. Paul public housing, a library circulation assistant, and as a child minder on a British cruise ship. He currently lives in the Midway area of St. Paul, MN.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen and I’ve been addicted ever since. My first published novel was The Suicide Collectors, a post-apocalyptic story about a suicide plague. I write a lot of multi-genre stuff. My newest work is And the Hills Opened Up, a horror-western being released by indie publisher Burnt Bridge.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror is fine by me! Both weird and dark fiction strike me as pretty vague-almost everything I’ve ever written could be considered weird and most of it has been some shade of dark. What’s next? Fiction fiction?
Who are some of your favourite authors?
My tastes seem to be all over the map these days. When I was younger Stephen King was a huge influence on me but lately I’ve been digging into the classics. I’d say an all-time great for me is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. You dig a little in his work and you’ll find some horrific stuff. I also love Kafka.
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
I’d like to live next to Zorba the Greek, he seems like a fun guy. Annie Wilkes from Misery would drive me batshit crazy.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
Horror seems to be thriving on the small scale (cool indie publishers and such) but I’d like to see some new voices hit the mainstream in a big way. Right now it’s hard to imagine another sales behemoth like Stephen King emerging, especially without relying on zombies or some other cultural fad. My agent tells me horror is a hard sell right now in New York.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last book that feverishly engrossed me was Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson. I recently ploughed through the bestseller The Goldfinch by Dona Tartt and was ultimately disappointed by it.
How would you describe your writing style?
I write for clarity and accuracy and inevitably pare down a 400 page manuscript to 300 or fewer pages. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time trying to show off or grind a particular axe. I try to keep things rolling, like a broke truck driver trying to make Dallas by morning.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Not a review, exactly, but Marvel Comic’s Stan Lee blurbed my first novel and then sent me a signed copy of my own book to me. That’s when you’re big time.
What’s your favourite food?
Extra sharp white cheddar cheese on woven wheat crackers.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Guns-N-Roses, Tom Waits, and Meat Loaf.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
You better feel like the process is reward enough or else you shall surely be disappointed, grasshopper.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Digging into characters always takes an enormous amount of time and energy.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m less interested in showing off how clever I am than I used to be and more focused on simply honouring the story itself, though I do still throw in some flash on occasion for the hell of it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Frederick Busch once told me not to believe the good reviews because then I’d have to believe the bad ones, too.
Also, this wasn’t advice, exactly, but I took a summer writing course once from a Pulitzer Prize winning author. He was kind of an ass, but he pointed out three examples of inaccurate analogies/lazy word usage in the first page of the novel I was rewriting at the time. From then on I focused on greater accuracy and held myself fully accountable for every single goddamn line.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
In And the Hills Opened Up I really fell in love with the foreman of the copper mine, a gruff but honest dude named Hank Chambers. I didn’t start out with particularly high expectations for Hank’s character but he grew into this strong individual who feels a great accountability for both the men he leads and the town connected to the mine. He’s the first to really face off with the Charred Man and instantly understand the threat the Charred Man represents to all.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I don’t stick with characters I don’t like as the author of a book, but I suppose readers will not be enormous fans of Revis Cooke. Revis is the skinflint who oversees the interests of the Dennis Mining Company, a de facto mayor of a company town and a murderous asshole in his own right.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Well, I feel I’ve already garnered my fair share of respect and I could give a crap about fame, so I’ll take fortune and finally pay off my credit cards, thanks.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’ve written fourteen novels and counting, so that’s a hard choice. I do have a special place in my heart for Wormwood, Nevada. It was my second published novel and didn’t exactly get a fair promotional shake from its publisher. “Dropping the ball” would be an understatement.
And are there any pieces that you would like to forget about?
I wrote a terrible literary novel right after 9/11 about divorce while I was studying abroad at the University of East Anglia. Why I thought a twenty-one year old could do such a topic justice I have no idea.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I’ve already mentioned it earlier but And the Hills Opened Up is a horror-western set in a remote mining town in 1890’s Wyoming, way up in the hills. The miners unearth a demon of sorts they refer to as the Charred Man, who proceeds to tear through the area on a killing spree.
Right now I’m working on YA novel about a pyromaniac.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
“Wait, aren’t you Jon Hamm?”
For more information on David follow the links below
Amazon Author Page
When the Dennison Mining Company tunnels too far, a bloodthirsty creature is set loose upon the isolated mountain town of Red Earth, Wyoming. If a reluctant alliance of outlaws, miners, misfits, and whores cannot stop the Charred Man, everyone in Red Earth will be dead by morning. A blend of old school horror and gritty Western shootout, And the Hills Opened Up is about fighting for life in the midst of death.
“A feverish foreman, an inexperienced sheriff, a widowed whore, and a kindly outlaw are just some of the engrossing characters in Oppegaard’s page-turner. The narrative is subtle and lovely, contrasting with a creepy, believable monster. The two combine in a story that’s horrific, thrilling, touching, and unflinchingly satisfying to the last page.” -Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review) 3/10/14
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