Hellofolks today we have Robert S Willson over for an interview, you may rememberRobert did a guest post a few days ago on Murdering Your Muse.
RobertS. Wilson is the author of Shining in Crimson, the first novel in his dystopianvampire series Empire of Blood in which his vampires aren’t affected byreligious relics, don’t become romantically involved with humans, and neitherdo they sparkle. He lives with his wife, kids, dog, and a rehabilitated evilcat in Tennessee.
Hisnovella The Quiet is in the anthology Not in the Brochure: Stories of a Disappointing Apocalypse of which all saleswill go to help fight illiteracy.
GNOH– Hello Robert, how are things with you?
Eh,I suppose about the same as usual, good, bad, and terrible all at once.
GNOH– Could you give the readers some background info on yourself?
Well, I’m an Indiananative. I used to play guitar and sing in several metal/alternative bands inthe late 90’s and early 00’s (wow it feels weird saying 00’s). I startedwriting around 2002 very casually. I just opened up Wordpad and started writingsomething and it wasn’t real but it was honest. It was also very definitelyhorror. The most I had written prior than that were the occasional ambiguoussong lyrics.
Me, my wife, and mykids moved to Tennessee about 6 years ago and shortly after I started writingmore seriously. I first started the serious approach with fantasy as I was abig fan of the genre at the time. Then I started delving into science fictionand eventually made my way back to horror, sort of. I really feel likeeverything I write has a bit of science fiction in it because I’m such a fan ofscience and the way that things work. Some more subtly than others, of course.
GNOH– What’s this about a rehabilitated evil cat? Surely all cats cannot betruly rehabilitated, aren’t they just a whisker away from a face tearing?
Haha, Gabriel. Wepicked up Gabriel as a kitten about 3 or 4 years ago from a small pet storehere in Tennessee. We named him after the cat in The Crow. He seemed cuteenough at the time. But it wasn’t until we got him home that we realized justhow vicious the little bastard was. He hated to be petted and almost seemed tothirst for human flesh and blood with the way he would attack people almost ashis way of showing affection. Then, he had to stay at my sister’s for a fewmonths with her and her cats and ever since he’s come home, he’s startedchanging, growing more and more loving all the time. It’s gotten so I hardly recognizehim. But maybe… just maybe, he’s biding his time… waiting to catch us unawareswhile we sleep. Hmm.
GNOH- So Robert, what is the appeal ofhorror to you?
I would say themirroring of humanity. I think after we’ve been through the worst there is thecapacity for us to find ourselves at our best. And for some that isn’t true andthat is, to me, equally as interesting.
GNOH– Can you remember what caused you to become a fan?
There have beenseveral milestones in my life that have caused and reawakened the horror fan inme throughout. The original Twilight Zone series, 80s horror movies that Ieither watched or listened to as a child with my hands covering my eyes,stories of alien abduction scared the living begesus out of me in my preteenyears, and then I started reading Whitley Strieber’s “true” accountsof alien abduction and barely slept throughout middleschool. But I think thebiggest milestone in my youth with horror fiction was when I read in almost oneentire sitting 3 novels by Stephen King written under the pen name of RichardBachman: Rage, The Long Walk, and Road Work. All were contained in an omnibustype book called The Bachman Books. I think my most recent milestone wasrealizing only after I had written it that my first novel was, in fact, a workof horror.
GNOH– Quickly, your three favourite films, and three favourite books?
Quickly? Ahhhh! OkayMovies: Brainstorm with Christopher Walken, great movie! Another ChristopherWalken film Scotland P.A. and rather hilarious. And last but not least,probably The Stand 4 part miniseries. Now, books. Probably Road Work by StephenKing, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, and Blindsight by Peter Watts.
GNOH– Can you remember what your first story was about? Do you still have it?
Yes, it was about aboy whose best friend dies and then an adult ghost claiming to be the bestfriend starts paying him visits. I still have it. It was never finished and wasway too chaotic to be usable but the concept still sits in the back of my headwaiting for another go.
GNOH– How would you describe your writing style?
Bleak but emotional.My characters tend to not have the best of lives and I use that to explore thefeelings that come with life less fortunate.
GNOH– Your new novel, Shining In Crimson, which we talk about in full later on, isa vampire novel. What do you think aboutthe current state of Vampire fiction?
I think some goodthings are happening and lots of very bad things are happening. I think thegrowing trend to literally romanticize the vampire has gone too far. I, myself,cringe when I hear about a new vampire book. I pass them up all the time. A fewyears ago, this wasn’t the case. I’ve read the Twilight books and though Ididn’t hate them as literature, they didn’t really move me, either. I thinkCharlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books are fun, unique, and interesting butsince I started reading them I’ve seen a serious rise in the amount of vampireliterature and an even larger decline in the amount of originality that’s beenbrought to the genre as well.
GNOH– A lot of folk blame the likes of Stookie Stackhouse on the current defangingof the Vampire, but I personally think the rot started with Buffy, Much as Iloved Buffy and Angel, I do think they have a lot to answer for?
Let’s be honest here.There is no defanging, it’s more like giving them what they never had infiction before: rigor mortis in a positive way, at least to the ladies.
GNOH– For you, which vampire novels would you say best encapsulate what a vampirenovel should be?
Hmm. Definitely I amLegend. I was a big fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, read the first fivebooks in a row over and over in highschool. Salem’s Lot. Dracula, of course. Ifind myself particularly fond of vampire novels with a science fiction leaning.I am Legend is certainly one of those. Then there’s Blindsight from PeterWatts. Blindsight is actually a bleak as hell hard science fiction novel. PeterWatts’s writing makes most horror writers seem like they’re writing aboutsunshine and pretty flowers. In the world of Blindsight there are vampires andthere is a very strong science fiction explanation for them and I absolutelylove it.
GNOH– And which one would you says sums up all that is wrong with them?
Normally, horror fanscomplain about romance leaking in and I’ve been guilty of it myself a time ortwo, but really it’s carbon copy mass production. It’s hundreds and hundreds ofauthors taking the genre in a “new” direction that just happens to bethe same as all the others. Right now that particular direction is paranormalromance.
GNOH– As a relatively unknown author, how do you get yourself noticed?
Goodness, your guessis as good as mine. I have to agree with Scott Nicholson when he said you justhave to keep trying things and no one really knows what actually works! I meanauthors don’t go out and try walking out in highway traffic with a blown upcopy of your book cover hanging from your neck but definitely be creative. It’sthe best you can do. I myself am doing a free audio serial of my novel that Ipersonally weed through music from submissions and artists on the internet toincorporate a great dark feel to it. I read my novel in a sort of intense voicethat I feel will grip the listener and I use my years of experience with audioproduction to make the best damn recording I can.
GNOH– Do you ever have days, where you’ve just had enough? How do you keep yourself motivated?
Definitely. I’ve hada lot of them in the last year. It’s definitely been a rough one. But I focuson my family and on my writing and I have confidence that I am gettingsomewhere in the world if I have to claw my way there through sticks and mudand guts.
GNOH– I see you have a fan in Scott Nicholson, how did this come about?
I actually had nevereven heard of Scott until I started seriously looking into self-publishing. Ifound him on Facebook and added him and he’s actually a great, approachable,and all around friendly guy. He was nice enough to give me some very greatadvice and mentoring when I needed it.
GNOH– Your novel Shining in Crimson has just been released, can you tell us aboutit?
Shining in Crimson isthe first book in my Empire of Blood series. The Empire of Blood series overallis about the American Empire, a religiously ruled empire ran by an Emperor whohas made himself out to be God. On the other side of this story there are thevampires. The vampires arrived on the scene around the time the nation was atwar before the Empire took over. The Emperor’s side won and made a deal withthe vampires that they could have a city of their own and all the blood theycould ever want if they stay put.
In my story there are2 kinds of vampire: Natural and Human Vampires. There is a very science fictionorigin to this idea that I won’t give away here. In Shining in Crimson we meetHank, a Penitent. Penitents are criminals and sinners who are sentenced to diein Necropolis. Hank’s a regular guy who’s definitely had a hard life. He’s awidower trying to raise his son and still deal with the loss of his wife. Hankloves his son very much. More than himself. And that’s what motivates him totry and escape the city of the dead.
GNOHDid you deliberately set out to do something different with the vampires in thebook?
Well, I didn’tdeliberately choose vampires, the idea came to me and I couldn’t not write it.But, yes, I did deliberately set out to do something different, something thatfit my understanding of science and biology.
GNOH– Do you explain what they are, and how they came about?
I do to some degreeexplain what they are and how they end up on the scene. I think anyone whounderstands a little bit of science can figure out their biological origin fromwhat information is given.
GNOH– Where you ever concerned about retreading old ground? Did you do a lot of reading to ensure yourvampires were fresh? Well as fresh as anundead corpse could be.
I’ve read a decentamount in the genre but I haven’t read all that extensively, really. As soon asmy idea for them came together I knew a major part of it was original. And justlike any other writer of something like this there are going to be some thingsthat trickle down. I would say I was definitely very influenced by Peter Wattswith my vampires but at the same time I was mostly influenced by what I’velearned over the years about biology.
GNOH– What would be on the soundtrack to the book?
Just listen to theaudio serial to find out 😉
GNOH– In one paragragh, sell the book to the readers
Hank Evans issentenced to one night in Necropolis, city of the dead, the former city of LasVegas. As he runs for his life to escape a city full of vampires, his onlymotivation is to get back to his 16-year-old son, Toby. But, even more dangerousthan the vampires that hunt him is Hank’s fading will to live. Ever since hiswife died, he’s wanted to follow her to the other side, if there is one. Willhis love for his son win over all?
GNOH– It has also been released as an audio serial, how did that come about?
As a musician and alover of audiobooks I felt I had an edge I could add to an audio version. Atfirst I was going to write all the music for it. But then I had the idea ofmaking it a cross promotional endeavour. By finding some great artists tocontribute I can promote their work while promoting mine. It’s like I told anew artist I selected earlier today for my next episode, one of the best partsabout this gig is finding great new music to listen to that I might not haveotherwise!
GNOH- How much work is involved in doingit?
Oh, it’s hard worknow doubt. I would say after a couple of hours or so of narration your jawtends to lock up and the simplest words refuse to be uttered from your mouth.Then there’s the really hard part: finding music that I feel is good enough andfits the atmosphere of the story. But when an episode comes together it’stotally worth all the hard work. In fact, I’m enjoying this process so muchthat I’m starting to branch out and do other’s work. I’m currently working onan audio version of a short story of J.T. Warren’s titled Flies. And I’mthinking about making it a regular thing once a month or so doing a short storyby someone I sincerely respect.
GNOH– Can you tell us about your novella The Quiet?
The Quiet is about aman named James Benton waking up to go to work and finding the city he lives inempty of human life and as he goes on all other forms of life as well. Thestory centers around his struggle to understand what has happened and to findanother human being if he can.
GNOH- How does this differ stylistically to Shining
I would say it’s morebleak for sure. Being a novella it’s more condensed. In fact, I’m leaving theoption open to expand it into a complete novel sometime in the future. But timewill tell if that idea holds or not.
GNOH– Can you tell us about any future projects?
I’m off and onworking on a hard science fiction/crime noir/horror story about a PC peripheralthat can interface with the human brain. The concept is that the device is usedto record and edit human experiences, and then share them on the web sort oflike a Youtube for human experiences. It’s called Exit Reality. The story isabout a virus that spreads through the device committing mass murder and one ofthe “detectives” that’s trying to crack the case.