Monday, January 27, 2014

Interview with David Dunwoody.

Full Name:
David Alan Dunwoody

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Greg Hall christened me “The Dunwoody” on his Funky Werepig podcast, and it’s stuck (the “The” anyway).
I’m often referred to as The Lefebvre.  I think it’s because we’re iconoclasts.

Bryan, Texas - hometown of Linda Ellerbee, NBC correspondent and host of Nick News. So there.

Current hometown:


How would you describe yourself physically?
I seem to be made of soft, pasty meat and filled with a bone-like substance.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Fucking hot.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I wouldn’t call my terror of rollercoasters a “phobia” so much as a “rational and instinctive desire to continue living”, but most people seem fine with rides so I guess I’m just a buzzkill.
I have OCD and there are a lot of superstitious impulses there, but I try to ignore those ones.  I wrote “those ones” because if that sentence doesn’t contain an odd number of syllables I will die.
I totally understand.

Current occupation / Dream job:
Living it.  Never in my life did I think I’d be able to say that.  In fact, it almost feels like I’m lying, but it’s the truth.  Just feels weird.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
I truly would not care to survive in the zompocalypse.  Am I really the only one?  Listen, I’ll be the guy who lures the zombies away from everyone else so long as I have a single round with me.  That said, love is a terribly impractical feeling and I do love some folks, so I think in the end I’d fight to remain standing as long as they had a shot.

Weapon of choice:
Aluminum bat.  That single round ain’t for them.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
My dad cooks enchiladas that make angels weep.  By contrast, I am completely intolerant of seafood.  Fish are morons and crustaceans look like insects.  Puffy white bug meat ranks beneath “dirt” and “nothing” on my food chart.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
David Cronenberg, though speaking of film rather than books, called horror a genre of “confrontation” rather than one of escapist fantasy.  I love that guy.  I hope that my own stuff forces people to confront things within themselves as well as their external fears – I know I’ve encountered my bogeymen while writing the stories.

What do you do?
I write stories.  Sometimes I sell them.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve been writing stories since I could write, and at a certain point in my teens I decided I wanted to do that as a job.  From that point on I’ve either been doing that or trying to do that.  It kinda goes back and forth.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Dream big.  Go big.  But be responsible for yourself and anyone who may depend upon you.  If you need a fallback plan, develop one.  Don’t quit the day job in a burst of romantic defiance unless you actually have a plan for that.  Now, if you’re single and your plan is to eat ramen and beans for the rest of your life (and this is my plan, so credit me), fair enough.  But if you decided to make kids, don’t be a fuckhead and spam Facebook with “Please buy my new book and feed my family.”  I’m not saying parents shouldn’t try to be career authors.  Just take responsibility for your choices.  Signed, a childless prick who will never understand your life. 
The internet has changed the literary world in every sense.  You have nearly unlimited resources at your fingertips when it comes to learning about writing, getting feedback from peers, gaining access to markets and promoting yourself.  Keep two things in mind: one, everyone else has the same unlimited resources, so you’re going to have to work overtime to raise your voice above the cacophony.  Second, you have the ability to run your own background checks on these resources.  Take nothing for granted!
That advice is laden with a lot of cynicism, so let me add that there are a lot of really kind, generous people in this business.  Even though we are all competitors in a sense, I’ve met very few people who weren’t into the camaraderie of the writing community.
As someone who has just started to take their writing seriously, I can relate to everything you said.  I know that to make up for lost time I’m going to have to work twice as hard as anyone that has already been working on establishing themselves as an independent author.  That’s why I’m planning on going twelve for twelve in 2014.  Twelve novels in twelve months.  Most of the authors that I interview claim to write 2K per day.  Unless my math is wrong, that should make around 60K per month, which is a novel and then some.  As for me, I can write 10K per day when life doesn’t get in the way, and I plan on putting my words where my mouth is.  I already published five books in the past three months, and I’ll be laying out a book tonight and finishing another before the end of this week.  They’re not rushed, I just write quickly and confidently.  But until I manage to establish myself as an author and develop a solid readership I’m still on the ramen noodle diet.  My favorite flavor is lime shrimp.  If you don’t have a favorite flavor of ramen noodle we’re probably not going to be able to relate to one another.
I’m a chicken flavor guy myself – pedestrian, I know, but you can add a lot of stuff to it.  I find the idea of cobbling together a mulligan stew very romantic, if not appetizing.
Some days I manage 2-5k, but those are offset by the ones when I can’t come up with one usable sentence.  On those days I try to commit to something at least writing-related, which can sometimes come out of left field – I’ve found that painting takes a big bite out of my writer’s block and often spurs new story ideas.
Wow!  Birds of a feather!  Let’s flock together!  On my days off of writing I like to work on art, specifically painting.  I’ve managed to make the hobby pay for itself, but I’m too busy working on trying to break into the writing game to try to break into the art game.  If I sell a couple paintings a month at twice what it cost me to make them I’m a happy guy.  As long as my hobby doesn’t cost me anything to practice I’ll keep doing it.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
My first real exposure came from publishing an online zombie serial called Empire in 2006.  Permuted Press, to whom I’d sold a few stories, expressed interest in seeing a completed Empire manuscript.  I wrapped the serial up after about six or seven months and turned it in as a novel.  From there I’ve continued to have a relationship with Permuted, publishing Empire’s End in 2011 and an alien apocalypse titled The Harvest Cycle in 2012.  Permuted also entered into an arrangement with Simon & Schuster that led to a new edition of Empire, which helped me make some new connections.  I’ve sold a boatload of shorts and put out two collections, one in 2009 and one in2010.
That’s a really good plan.  I’ve been serializing chapters of the post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic book project I’ve been working on with the intention of shuffling all of the early chapters together and going for broke in the second half.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for Permuted Press and maybe chat them up after I have a few novels under my belt.  Their name has come up in a few interviews but I’m not sure if I have any direct connections with them aside from being imaginary friends with their Facebook page.  Tell us a bit about the Empire series and The Harvest Cycle.
hook is the Reaper – in a world besieged by zombies for 100+ years, Death is finally fed up with the way the undead screw up his bookkeeping. He heads out into the wasteland on a pale horse, scythe in hand, to put them down.  Along the way, of course, he meets a lot of humans and their various agendas give him a deeper insight into life and a greater reason for fighting the plague.  While most of the zombies are traditional Romero-types, the supernatural angle results in a lot of oddities that I think will appeal to the zombie fan who’s seen everything.
Harvest is a Cthulhu Mythos tale (though not to the extent that it would alienate non-HPL fans) that concerns the sudden appearance of amphibious, lightning-fast creatures called Harvesters. One day, they wash up on beaches worldwide, and then the hunt begins.  All we know about them at first is that they eat brains and they come onto land during a random period each year.  While humans look for different ways to ward off the Harvesters or simply stay hidden, they have to deal with the threat of bots – humanoid automatons who once served Man but turned abruptly on him when  the Harvesters came.  The reason is tied to the Harvesters’ cosmic origin and it presents a nearly insurmountable obstacle to the humans seeking a solution.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently pitching a novel and a collection.  While I’m awaiting the yay or nay my time’s devoted mostly to shorter works.  In the last couple years I think I’ve finally gotten my head around the novella, and am enjoying writing within that range.  I’m continuing to look into self-publishing as something I’d do alongside working with traditional presses.  There’s really no reason not to be doing it at this point.  Johnny-come-lately is my middle name, and I always run out of room when I’m endorsing checks.
Once you spend the time and effort learning how to publish your own work, it’s really quite easy.  Especially if you teach yourself how to do your own interior formatting and cover design.  The learning curve’s not that steep.  It just takes a little patience.  The worst part is the review process.  You have to wait a day after you submit the files for the site to determine if it’s really a book.  Then you have to wait another full day after you approve their approval until it’s available for purchase.  The one small piece of advice I’d offer is to make sure that you wait until the second review process is finished before publishing it through the Kindle platform as an e-book.  If you publish it through the Kindle platform as an e-book before the review process is over, the Kindle version will be listed separately from the print-on-demand version on Amazon and that’s a bit frustrating.  I learned that trick after I self-published my first collection of interviews.
Thanks for the advice!  I’ve always wondered why some Kindle titles weren’t linked to their print incarnations.
Hey, now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
Although it’s not an exact science.  I think it’s got a lot to do with what phase the moon is in, and what side of the bed that Amazon wakes up on.
Animal sacrifices probably help too. That’s how I got same-day shipping anyway.

What are you watching?
The last first-run series I watched was Breaking Bad.  I tend to watch older shows – right now it’s the first Cosmos series that Carl Sagan did, and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. Mostly I watch weird shit on YouTube.
Cosmos is so good!  I must have watched it billions and billions and billions of times!

What are you listening to?
I have two playlists – one is a giant stewpot of pop, rock and oddities.  The other’s made up of horror scores and dark ambient.  Truth be told, I probably write more using the first list while I listen to the horror stuff to unwind.
What kind of stuff is in your horror score / dark ambient playlist?
Musica Cthulhiana are composers of dark ambient which I gather is mostly intended as background music for tabletop RPGs, but I use it for writing. The scores range from slasher flicks to anthology TV shows to games like The 7th Guest. There are a few classical pieces too, but mostly I like stuff that reminds me of being creeped out as a kid.

I also do the audiobook thing a lot since my eyesight bars me from reading print (nonetheless, my collection of dead-tree books keeps growing).  Audiobooks are great. Some people still put them down but I don’t get it – I’ve felt as engrossed and involved by a good audiobook as I have any paperback.  Of course I miss the latter but I don’t think the audio medium robs fiction itself of anything essential.
I love myself some audio books also.  I got caught up on a lot of the Stephen King that I had missed or hadn’t bothered reading until recently that way.  I find I listen to audio books most when I’m working on some art or when trying to get to sleep.  I just turn off the lights, and close my eyes and listen until I drift off and have weird dreams and then pick it up from where I last remember before I lost consciousness the night before.

What are you reading?
More old stuff at the moment.  Lovecraft’s essays on writing alongside some of his favorite works by other authors.  I’m not as disciplined a reader as I should be.  Too often I use a lot of potential reading time to do other things – again, not because of any issue with audiobooks, but because my brain is always thinking about the next ten tasks and queuing them up.  Being centered and in the moment is the challenge.  First-world problems, man.
I sympathize.  I’m way behind on my reading list.  My review queue is backed up until the thaw and I have new books coming in daily.  That’s the good and bad thing about interviewing authors.  They always want you to read their books.  I’ve got nothing against it.  I like reading.  But it’s been an embarrassment of riches as of late.  Keeping current on my interview blog also keeps me pretty busy.  I don’t mind as I like helping people to promote their work and it helps people to become familiar with me, and is a decent opportunity for networking, but it’s time and effort I could be spending on my own work.  It’s kind of winding down a bit for now.  I’m about to publish my third collection of interviews and I’ve got all of the interviews for the fourth collection lined up and in various stages of completion.  Once I get that locked I’ll have a lot more time to be able to work on my own projects.  I’ve got the next five or six books lined up and I just need to make the time to throw the necessary words at them.

Favorite author / book?
Favorite novel ever is IT by King.  I think it’s the best story about the magic of childhood (even a shitty childhood) and what it’s like to need that magic as an adult.  And we all need it.  Pennywise/It is a fantastic villain embodying both Lovecraft’s cosmic horror and those intimate, nasty little fears that creep around in our minds.
I remember crashing at a friend’s house one time and I was having trouble putting myself down.  They had a hardcover copy of It on their bookshelf and I figured I’d just read a few pages and it would put me out.  I ended up twenty pages in without even noticing.  The first few pages of that book are hypnotizing.   That’s the beauty of King.  His work is so lyrical that it sucks you in without you even realizing it’s happening.
It was likely that same hardcover edition that I read as a kid – my parents forbade me from going near their King collection at that age, which of course meant that when they weren’t home I went straight to their King collection.
Oh of course!  I discovered King in fifth grade when the local publish library finally relented and let me start borrowing books from the “adult” section.  My first two books?  A non-fiction book about the Mary Celeste and the thickest Stephen King book they had on the shelf.  It.  Whenever they ran standardized testing on us every couple years, I’d score in the 98th percentile for reading comprehension.  I was reading at the level of your average 45 year old.  I blame Stephen King.
I think the first horror book I took out of a library was James Herbert’s The Rats.  The librarian must not have known its reputation, despite the demonic rat lunging out from the cover.

Favorite band / song?
The Police, and, though I have a greater appreciation for their early stuff, the song’s “Every Breath You Take.” I first heard it as a kid when it was covered in  King’s Cat’s Eye (they couldn’t afford the original track).  Years on I did a little reading and realized that this guy Sting, who was evidently not the pro wrestler, had written all these songs I liked.  Devoured the entire Police discography and (most of) Sting’s.

Least favorite band / song?
Limp Bizkit have some of the most stupefying lyrics I’ve ever heard.  I can’t deny the addictive beats but Jesus jackhammering Christ those are some dumb fucking words in there.  Same with Black Eyed Peas.  I can’t think of an artist I completely loathe, though.  I roll my eyes at Top 40 the same as everyone else, then go home & listen to it, which is why it’s in the Top 40.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
ASTRONAUT DETECTIVE.  Or it might be fun to work in the convention industry, arranging events, moderating panels, etc.
I’ve actually worked a bit in the convention industry.  It’s hard work, but I loved doing it and I’d do more in a heartbeat.  It’s even on my business card.  Unfortunately people aren’t exactly looking to give up the job of convention coordinator. 

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Cronenberg. When I say I believe he’s a genius, I mean it in the literal sense. I’d just like to watch him give a talk or interview and then walk up and shake his hand real quick and say something stupid.
Dead: Mark Twain. Another genius. I don’t see myself having coffee with these gents, trading witticisms; I’m just sitting there nodding and mentally recording every word that’s said to me.
Fictional: Jessica Rabbit
Good choices!

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best is this, worst is data entry.  It was the people, not the work – sitting at a terminal with headphones on seemed like the ideal situation for me - but dear God, the sad angry people who had become lifers there.  They ain’t kidding when they say “Misery loves company.  And is also incredibly loud and obnoxious.  And smells.”

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
There’s this island (probably one of many) in the Mediterranean that is home to a quaint fishing village and about a thousand feral kittens.  It looks like the island where they filmed Anthropophagus.  I’d like to believe they are one and the same and that Nikos never ate cats.  That guy’s face was gross.
Second: Norm Macdonald, Louis C.K. and Neil Hamburger.
What was the question for the second one?
Favorite stand-ups (in no particular order, of course).

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
If you haven’t gotten them yet, I’d connect you with Tim Long, Gregory L. Hall and Joe McKinney. Lots of great anecdotes and laughs there.
I sent Tim an invite to be interviewed back in December but never received a reply.  Hopefully seeing this will help to elicit a response.  Joe McKinney says he’s going to have his first round of replies back to me by the end of this week.  I might need an introduction to Gregory L. Hall as I tried to look him up on Facebook and it turns out there’s a few of them.
Happy to help.  Greg’s been a friend for years and is as funny as he is scary.

Got any questions for me?
Is there anything that still gives you the full-on creeps in the middle of the night?  For me it’s the demons from the eponymous 1985 Italian flick.  Sometimes when I’m walking through the house I imagine there’s one sliding up behind me and get the chills.
I have nightmares sometimes.   But not as often as I’d like to.  I’ve been shot at in a faux battlefield exercise and that was pretty scary, but aside from that there’s not a lot of things that scare me.  I go looking for things to scare me.  I like hanging out in abandoned places late at night.  Nothing really scares me anymore.  I’m too busy giving other people nightmares.
I always get a weird look when I say to someone, “I haven’t had a decent nightmare in weeks.” I don’t know why.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thank you Scott!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

About the Interviewee:
Born in Texas and currently living in Utah, David Dunwoody writes subversive horror fiction, including the EMPIRE zombie series and the collections DARK ENTITIES and UNBOUND & OTHER TALES. Most recent is his post-apocalyptic novel THE HARVEST CYCLE. His short stories have been published by outfits such as Permuted, Chaosium, Shroud, Twisted Library, Belfire and Dark Regions. Favorite authors include Lovecraft, King and Barker. More info and free fiction at

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
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