Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with author DW Gillespie. If you’re not familiar with DW, let’s take a moment to get everyone acquainted…
D.W. Gillespie hails from parts unknown in the dark woods of Tennessee. Supported by his wife and two feral children, he spends most days hunkered over a vintage typewriter he found in a smoking crater deep within the forest primeval. Bearded and muttering, he writes tales to terrify by the light of a kerosene lamp far from the amenities of the modern world.
He’s also on Facebook.
He’s been featured in Daylight Dims, Dark Moon Digest, Pavor Nocturnus, and others, as well as the back side of an old walnut tree.
Welcome DW! Now let’s get on to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your work.
The feel-good demonic creature story of the year thus far.
Very interesting! What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?
Frank Sinatra singing, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
It would be a nice fit for the story overall, and I think it would give the movie a twisted beginning that would put the audience off guard. “Sinatra??? I thought this was a horror movie. Oh well, maybe we’ll still enjoy it…OH MY GOD!”
Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?
I would have to mix it up in three acts.
Act 1: Childhood. Probably Guillermo Del Toro to get things started. I think he could really capture the spirit of how much I scared the shit out of myself as a kid. Seriously, laying in bed at night as an eight year old was like eating lunch with The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Act 2: Middle School. David Cronenberg for this act without question. It was nothing but body horror for this stretch.
Act 3: The Present. This is the tough one. Maybe Spielberg. That’s an easy answer, I’ll admit, but he’s a good choice for me at this point in my life. People always give him shit for sanding the sharp edges off his movies, but I’m seriously happier than anyone has any right to be. Wonderful wife and two awesome kids. The Beard could pull that off.
Great answer! What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?
I’m not a hardcore planner, but I’m an outliner for sure. I like to know where the story is going, but I always keep things open ended. At least half the time, things go off the rails, and the story just does its own thing. I love it when that happens, because it’s the characters that take off and start riffing. That’s where the best stories come from.
While I totally recognize, invite, and nurture these moments of creative bliss, I feel like most genre work needs to be going somewhere. My cautionary tale is a TV show that will go nameless. It was so captivating, this mysterious story of castaways…ahem…Lost on a strange island. I was hooked, and I devoted six years of my life only to realize in the last episode that no one had any fucking clue where this was going.
It was a hard lesson. One that I’ll never forget.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?
It sounds cliché, but it really is all about hard work and tenacity. I knew from a relatively young age that I was different than most people because my mind worked in stories. That was my language, a constant internal swirl of silliness that kept me awake at night.
Now, knowing you’re creative is the first step to becoming a writer, but it has to come with something else, something I wasn’t born with. In my early twenties, I wrote a little, but there was no structure, no willingness to get myself out there. I had plenty of drive, but never in the right direction. “Oh, no one wants this story, well, I’ll write a book! That’ll show ‘em!”
It was like I was waiting for the heavens to part and for opportunity to come to me, like a literary agent running out of gas in front of my house.
It took a solid decade of rejections, shitty writing, and general wandering through the wilderness for me to realize a very important lesson. Other than my family, no one really gives a shit about me. That’s not cynicism, just honesty. Writer’s have to claw, bite, elbow, and pistol whip for every opportunity they can.
So, if I ever get my time machine, I’ll stroll up to younger me and say, “Oh, you’re creative huh? Well, nobody cares. Bust your ass for a decade and we’ll talk. And quit eating so many donuts or you’ll look…like…THIS!” (raises shirt up)
What are the three books that really inspired you to become a writer?
This would probably change depending on the day, but here’s what I got at the moment:
The Hobbit – Still the template for world building and fantasy. I’ve read this probably more than any other book I can think of, and I keep coming back for a reason. I love the simple pleasures of a good story, especially in the grimdark era we live in. In an age when Superman and Zod murder half of Metropolis on the big screen, I find myself just wanting to curl up in a hobbit-hole.
Any Solid Lovecraft Collection – Nothing, and I mean nothing has molded me as a horror fan quite like Lovecraft has. There are dozens of great collections over the years, but as long as it has the unholy trifecta of “The Call of Cthulu,” “The Dunwich Horror,” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” you’re good to go.
The Masque of the Red Death – I’m cheating here, going for a short story instead of a book, but Poe has to be here in some form or fashion. There are several amazing shorts to pick from, but none unsettled me as much as Masque. I can still remember reading this for English class in high school. To this day, nobody can end a horror story the way Poe can, and the words are still burned in my brain: And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion after all. Even a surly, virginal fifteen year old can appreciate that.
Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.
- Coffee or tea? Coffee
- Cats or dogs? Both shit regularly on my carpet
- Snow or sun? Snow. It’s so rare in middle Tennessee that I just wander aimlessly around the backyard humming the Charlie Brown Christmas theme.
- Print books or eReader? Print, but I see the allure of eReaders. I’ll come around at some point.
- Nachos or potato chips? Nachos. I hope to own stock in Taco Bell at some point.
- Baked or fried? Fried.
- Candy or chocolate? Chocolate before bedtime gives me nightmares, so naturally, chocolate.
- Comedy, Romance, or Horror? I like romances as long as something kills everyone at the end.
- Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? I don’t think I can choose.
- Classics or Modern? Classics
- Old World or New World? I got nothing.
- Sweet or spicy? Uh…Spicy?
- Comfort or Speed? Comfort. Laziness is my destiny.
Now I know this is not the story that DW eluded to above, but that Anthology—Voices from the Gloom – Volume 2—is in the final stages of pre-production! Instead, you can take a look at DW’s All Safe in Here…
When the explosions began to rock some of the largest cities in the country, Emmett Cobb was prepared. He takes refuge in the bunker his father had built over the years before locking the door tight. Inside, he has the food, supplies, and most importantly, the guns to protect his horde. But as the days become weeks, his safe haven fades into a nightmarish struggle to survive in the face of utter madness, and he learns the awful truth. Concrete and steel can keep out the world, but the fear will always finds a way in.
All Safe in Here is the story of how far one man will go to protect himself from the threats all around him, whether real or imagined.
**Includes the bonus story, A Plea and a Warning.