CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.
My name is David M. Wilson. I’m a writer and an editor. I publish Deadlights Horror Fiction Magazine and Shotgun! Strange Stories (both newly rebooted). I’ve worked with Jack Ketchum and Bill Pronzini, and I almost published Richard Chizmar before I shut down my first attempt at a magazine. I also worked with Les Bohem, who wrote the movie Dante’s Peak (one of my favorite movies as a kid). I’ve had a wild ride and look forward to riding a while longer.
CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer from a very young age, and I’ve always been encouraged by my family to write as far back as I can remember. What I didn’t know then (no one did) was that I also wanted to be an editor and a publisher. This happened in college, when I started to enjoy my English courses. Since then, the goal has been to become an editor and a writer. I’m still chasing that dream–running it down, really.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
I don’t have a specific writing schedule. The dictum ‘write everyday’ doesn’t work for everyone, simply because some writers are not able to stick to a routine. I’m one of those people. It stems from a chemical imbalance—BiPolar and PTSD (from military service). Panic Attack Disorder. But besides these issues, or maybe because of them, there are times when I can focus and write non-stop. This happens most often when I’m caught up with a story or in one of my productive snaps.
Reading and editing are different. I love to read. Love it. I try to read at least an hour every night before bed. Editing is an extension of reading. When I read submissions, and then start to edit, it’s a relaxing exercise—all I’m doing is re-reading and marking ways in which the story can improve. It’ fun.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
When I pick back up on a story, I generally re-read that last few paragraphs. I tend to write non-stop when I do write. When I say non-stop, I’m not exaggerating. I’ll write while eating. I’ll write when I first wake up, immediately, on my iPad or on my Laptop (that has since crashed, R.I.P.). I’ll write late into the night, too. I’ll write while in the bathroom, excluding the shower. It really is non-stop. That’s a ritual. Unhealthy, maybe, but there it is.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
I like writing all lengths, but longer works are what I enjoy most of all. There’s more breathing room, in general. But all forms are equally stimulating in their own way.
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
Brian Knight, a great writer, lives in the same town I do. He was the first author to feature in my publication, Deadlights Horror Fiction Magazine, and I remember meeting him when I was 14. He signed a book for me and was encouraging when I told him I wanted to write. I’m 30 now. That was a long time ago. Other than that, the scene is non-existent (so far as I know).
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
I go with the flow, but I’ve studied structure in and out of college. I know what I’m doing, and so I can go with the flow and be loose about it (as well as defend myself when questioned for doing something strange). A lot of people ward off outlines, but sometimes I’ll write out a sequence of events to create a certain effect. I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know something must happen at certain points. Other writers could do well with studying structure so they can keep it in the back of their mind.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
I sometimes publish under a pen name, and the process has changed the way I write regarding drafts and self-editing—more of each is less embarrassment.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
Something that twists and turns, ending in a way you don’t expect. I like stories that surprise me, shock me, or stimulate me intellectually. Horror doesn’t scare me all that often, not a lasting fear, anyway. A good horror story can cause either lasting fear, shock, or revulsion. A novel would do well to have all three within it. Short stories usually go for one or two out of three, but the best short stories, for me, focus on one and twists hard once it gets ahold of the reader.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
A novella and a few short stories. I am also opening Shotgun! Strange Stories back up, which is a free E-Zine. I’m currently working on that. I’m also working on re-opening Deadlights Horror Fiction Magazine.
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
Probably The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. That novel had a lasting effect. And the short stories of M.R. James. I read that entire book, and each story was disturbing.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?
It’s a tie between The Ruins by Scott Smith, Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, The Dark Descent edited by David G. Hartwell, and Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson. I can turn to all of these without fail and be thoroughly entertained.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?
I am not a fan of horror films. I prefer sci-fi movies. Horror, in film, isn’t my favorite because it’s too often that you can see the ‘zipper in the back’ in terms of monsters and CGI creations and such. There is also no way to distance yourself from gore, violence, or graphic images. When you read, you may imagine something bad, but it doesn’t have to be brutal. Moveis give you no choice. I don’t like giving up that control.
Still, I do watch them, and so far I have to say that the film adaptation of Secret Garden, Secret Window is quite good. The Witch was also very, very good. The Mist, too. If I had to pick an all-time favorite, it’d probably be The Thing. That’s a fucked up movie. Come to think of it, The Others was good, too.
My wife loves The Conjuring. So we watch that. It’s grown on me.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
I lived in Alaska a while, and I was going to say the Moose, but then I remembered a little beastie that I reported on in college. I would follow the Mantis Shrimp. You might laugh at my spirit animal being a Shrimp, but you won’t once you read this:
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
Irish Death by Iron Horse Brewery, a local place in Washington State (on the east side). It’s technically a dessert beer, and if you pair it just right, you’ll have a damn good meal. I don’t drink as much as I used to. When I do drink, I go for an Irish Death, while sounding like a walking commercial.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
F. Scott Fitzgerald