Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interview with W. D. Gagliani.

Full Name:
William Gagliani, but I write as W.D. Gagliani.

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Bill (boring, I know). In my youth I was known more as Will, but that one faded.

Kenosha, WI – but I grew up in the Northern Italian seaport, Genova, until I was eight years old.  Then a three-week ocean voyage brought me back to my native land.  My parents were born in Italy, though, so I grew up speaking Italian first, and have been bilingual forever.  I’ve taken some of my parents’ experiences as kids under Allied bombing and German occupation in WWII and folded it into the parallel story that runs through several of my Lupo novels.

Current hometown:
A suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Favorite city and why?
I’ve been to New York seven times, but never long enough.  I love NYC and would move there in a minute if I could afford it!  Ever since I walked 42nd Street and stood on the outdoor observation deck of the World Trade Center in the mid-70s (1975) I’ve been attracted to the city, and Manhattan especially.  Lately I’ve been fascinated by Roosevelt Island.  I love the Park, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Midtown… maybe it’s all the great 60s-70s movies that were set there.  I also have a soft spot for Key West, where I spent a week a long time ago doing the spring break thing.  I’ve never gone back, even though I’ve been to Florida a number of times.  But basically I really like Milwaukee, too.  It’s urban enough to be like a “big” city, but it’s small enough to be calm and friendly.

Birthday / Age:
In my 50s.

How would you describe yourself physically?
The result of too sedentary a life, though once I used to lift weights and play racquetball. Nowadays I have to force myself to exercise daily, and the whole time I wish I was doing something else, LOL.  Plus I’m Italian, so food and drink are part of my requirements for a normal life.
You know why Italians wear gold chains around their necks?
So they know where to stop when shaving.
Heh, well not ALL Italians wear chains. And silver is popular, except with werewolves.

How would someone else describe you physically?
On the short side, but imposing…

The first thing people notice about you is…
I still have most of my hair, and I wear it more or less like I did in the 70s (longer than is typical).  I just don’t like haircuts.  I used to wear a ponytail (in the late 90s).  It probably makes me look like one of those people who never grew out of that one style, but at least I left the leisure suit behind… Otherwise, I don’t know – the fact that I like to wear black and just solid colors for the most part.

Sexual orientation?
I like to remain mysterious.

Religion, if any?
Recovered ex-Catholic.
Fully recovered or do you still do the honorary Easter/Christmas routine?
I attend only funerals these days, and very occasionally a wedding. Paradoxically, I love churchy music – I love the pipe organ, and a Bach or Handel piece, or a great old Christmas carol will still give me (secular) shivers.  I think I’m drawn to early Genesis precisely because of Tony Banks using the organ as if he were still in a “public” school chapel, playing those great old English hymns.  The pipe organ is very moving and powerful. If anything good has come out of religion, it just might be some of the music.
I love myself some contrapuntal Bach.  I’m also a sucker for a harpsichord.
Absolutely, me too.  The very first sound I ever tried to get on a synthesizer (in the days you had to move parameters around just to get a sound) was harpsichord.  And Bach was just cool.  All of the Bachs.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
A little superstitious where the Goddess Fortuna is concerned!  I have a couple superstitions, I guess, but nothing debilitating.  My mom always told us to avoid opening an umbrella in the house, putting a hat on the bed, stuff like that.  I might cop to still following those, just because.  I’m hedging my bets.  No major phobias, but I’m no fan of insects.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I do not smoke (though my parents did).  I really can’t stand to breathe in smoke of any kind – it just impedes my breathing.  But I’ve never met a good beer or a good cocktail I didn’t like.  I like craft beers and European beers, but I’ve reduced my beer drinking tremendously since college… now I stick to rum, brandy, whiskey, Campari, Vermouth, B&B, classic cocktails like Manhattans, Crimson Slippers, Negroni, rum (or gin) & tonic... an endless list, but I like to experiment a little, such as swapping brandy for the rye whiskey or bourbon in the Manhattan (brandy is a Wisconsin thing), adding Campari instead of bitters, and so on.  (In fact, my protagonist Nick Lupo takes credit for inventing what he calls the Midtown Manhattan: brandy, sweet Vermouth, a long dash of Campari, over rocks – olive or cherry optional.)  Funny, up to a year ago I hated – really hated! – gin, but I seem to have developed a taste for it now, thanks to trying the classic Negroni, so now I don’t mind a gin & tonic, either.  In wine, I like almost anything, but lately I’ve enjoyed Tuscan wines and Sicilian Nero D’Avola the best. As an Italian nearly by birth, I like good food and good wine and drink, but not to outrageous excess… still, empty calories are a (very) bad habit I really need to kick.  But who wants to?

Current occupation / Dream job:
I’m a long-time library supervisor.  But I would love to be making a living at writing novels.  I’ve had that dream since I was about 5… I’ve fulfilled the dream, at least the publication part, with seven novels under my belt, but the making a living part eludes me still…
That’s always the tough part.  As if writing books isn’t hard enough, then you have to find people to read them.
Even in this day and age of easy everything thanks to the Web, it still amazes me that some novels are found by thousands of readers during a special pricing event, while others are found by… dozens.  Heh, I leave you to figure out which are mine!

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Reading, writing, reviewing books (not so much these days due to time constraints), watching movies and good TV, listening to progressive rock (fan), messing around with synthesizers and things like a Theremin, and weapons (I use a lot of weapons in my books, and therefore I have a strange little arsenal).
Who do you like for prog rock?  I’ve been into King Crimson for a while and lately I’ve been getting into stuff like High Tide, Hawkwind, and Goat.
You like some really niche music!  Crimson just misses my top 10, but I especially love the Larks’ Tongues and Starless era.  Sometimes they’re a bit too esoteric, but I can handle it -- I still need to hear the most recent stuff they’ve been doing on their current tour.  I’ll have to check out High Tide and Goat – I had heard of them, but never listened to them.  I do remember seeing another Swedish band, the legendary Anglagard, here in Milwaukee on one of their only one or three North American gigs ever.  Hawkwind I really liked for a while, but then I lost track of them.  Their association with Michael Moorcock tickled me in the late 70s, and I still have some on vinyl – my favorite Hawkwind is Hall of the Mountain Grill.
My own prog-rock favorites tend to lie in the “mainstream” of prog-rock: Genesis, Yes, ELP, Floyd, Crimson, and less proggy bands like Tangerine Dream, Kansas, and the Alan Parsons Project. I am a huge Steve Hackett fan and really love his resurrection of Genesis classics on the last couple tours. I like Spock’s Beard but mostly miss Neal Morse, and I’ve enjoyed Porcupine Tree/Steve Wilson. I like a lot of solo work from people in those and other bands. I also really like some venerable Italian prog bands: Goblin, PFM, Banco, etc. I’m a sucker for any band that features keyboards… Hammond organ, pipe organ, synthesizers, Mellotron, piano, Clavinet – you name it.
I do tend to listen to some niche prog-rock, but I like what I like.  It’s not like I’m going out of my way to listen to music that’s more obscure than other people listen to.  I’m just always looking for music that resonates with the hidden chord within me.  I tried to get into deep King Crimson, but wasn’t up to the challenge, although I stand by In The Court Of The Crimson King as a mandatory album for anyone’s music library.  You mentioned the theremin.  Can you actually play a theremin?
Not so’s you’d like to hear it!  But I can make noises that sound vaguely like music, yes.  Does that count?
For the purposes of this interview it does.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Drive to the North Woods and hunker down on a lake somewhere.

Weapon of choice:
I have a variety, from tiny blades all the way to a 5.56mm Ruger carbine.  A couple crossbows, a replica hand-and-a-half sword, etc.  I guess if I had to pick functional favorites, my S&W old-school Model 10 revolver would be great because it won’t jam.  For firepower, my Sig Sauer 9mm (and it also tends to live jam-free), and my Ruger Mini-14.
Recently someone knocked Rick on The Walking Dead for using a revolver, but that’s the good thing about a barrel gun.  You don’t have to worry about it jamming.
Absolutely, it’s the perfect weapon of last resort. You can reload pretty fast with speed-loaders, if you practice a little, but not if your hands shake.  I grew up watching Starsky & Hutch on TV and, despite the ridiculous nature of pretty much everything on that show, I was tuning in for Hutch’s Colt Python and to a lesser extent for Starsky’s Smith & Wesson Model 59 with the 14-round magazine, which was unusual at the time (the first, I believe, for a double-action).  In any case, revolvers don’t jam unless you bathe them in mud.

Do you have any special skills?
I speak/read/write Italian fluently, but have forgotten most of the German I ever learned.  Otherwise, besides writing and a pretty good editorial eye, I’d say I have a good knowledge of arcane library collection maintenance skills.  I’ve been complimented for my natural shooting ability (home invaders, please note).

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I finished with a Geology and English double BA and later an MA in English, creative writing concentration. (Long ago…)

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Not any more.

What is your favorite animal?
Dogs, but I also highly respect wolves.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Too long a list, but I hate typical grammar errors: it’s/its, there/their/they’re, etc.).
It’s the easy ones that are the worst.  I know that it’s easy to get tripped up with usage errors like “pedal”/“petal”/“peddle” and that most people don’t know the proper spelling of straitjacket, but when I’m reading a submission and they’re having problems with their its yours and theres, usually it means I’m not going to be able to enjoy their submission.  If you want to be a carpenter, you have to learn how to use the tools.  Writing is no different.
I hear you!  It’s off-putting to read the same minor error over and over again, especially with all the tools at our fingertips these days.  The web and the Internet seem to have made us all sloppier writers, when really we should be sharper.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I will always love pizza and bread (and pasta, I’m afraid).  I’m open-minded on food, but I tend to dislike anything that blends fruits and nuts with meats.  And I haven’t eaten red meat since the late 90s.  Hm, overall least favorite is probably some Thai, which is weird because I like Chinese… go figure.  Something about the flavor profiles hits me wrong, I guess.  I’m not a sushi fan, either, though I love fish and shellfish.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Genesis: “Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.” (The last week I was thinking about this one because of the deadly cold this winter.) I’ve also been partial to the darkness of Floyd’s: “The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death…”

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Meeting a certain someone. We’re still together.
Better that than an uncertain someone.  Congratulations!

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Watching my dad die.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I can’t judge.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
My attorney recommends I leave this one blank.

What do you do?
I’m a library Stacks Supervisor with delusions of literary abilities.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I fell into my day job as a student and worked my way up. I love books and libraries, so it made sense.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Besides writing? What I do for a living will fade in the next couple decades, as all human knowledge migrates online and paper books become curios. What I do is a job that won’t exist then. So I have to recommend that people don’t get into my line of work.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I just turned in my 6th Nick Lupo horror-thriller, Wolf’s Blind. Sometimes I’m amazed that Wolf’s Trap, my first novel, has been in print pretty much continuously since it was first published in 2003.  Recently I co-wrote (with David Benton) stories that were accepted in the anthologies THE X-FILES: TRUST NO ONE and SNAFU: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MILITARY HORROR, among others. One I’m really proud of is the story we (as a team) had published in the final volume of the legendary HOT BLOOD series (HOT BLOOD 13: DARK PASSIONS). Pretty much anyone I’ve ever idolized had a story in one of those, so I felt we’d arrived when we made it. Stephen King never had one in there, I think, but I covered that by having my story “Icewall” appear in ROBERT BLOCH’S PSYCHOS, in which King had “Autopsy Room 4.” That anthology was also translated into Italian (appropriate!) and Japanese.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel with my frequent collaborator, David Benton. I’m piecing together the synopsis for the 7th Lupo novel, while trying to finalize my long-delayed first Lupo novella.  I have a few other long-term projects in progress.  I like to keep a lot of pots simmering.  I usually like to say I have more burners on the stove than I can handle.

What are you watching?
Movies, of course. On TV: House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Hemlock Grove, Alpha House, NCIS, Justified, Grimm, Teen Wolf, Suits, House of Lies, American Horror Story, Orange Is the New Black, Constantine, Real Time with Bill Maher, Strike Back, Castle, Episodes, True Detective, Penny Dreadful, etc. I’ve also enjoyed some shows that have ended, such as The Sopranos, Californication, Burn Notice, Leverage, The Bridge… Also I’ve always been a Bond fan, despite the glaring flaws in some of the franchise entries. I saw my first Bond movie in 1964, Goldfinger dubbed into Italian. I was not overly thrilled with Skyfall, but I have hopes for Spectre.
I just finished watching the first two season of House Of Cards.  What an amazing experience!
I’m actually stuck in season 2 at the moment, but I’m looking forward to season 3!  I love the Machiavellian subterfuge.  I love the winking asides. I love to see characters with a well-developed evil side, although I also do like to see them getting what’s coming to them sometimes.  Not always, though – I think it’s more realistic when they get away with evil deeds.

What are you listening to?
I don’t mind a variety of things, but I listen mostly to progressive rock, electronic music (old school, such as Tangerine Dream), so-called new age, classic rock, cinema soundtrack music, classical/Renaissance. I also don’t mind jazz and fusion, blues, r&b, folk, Rat Pack and the like, etc. Lately when I write it’s been Jerry Goldsmith soundtracks (Our Man Flint, In Like Flint, The Omen, etc.) and Tangerine Dream (I have about 70 recordings… and I was recently devastated by the death of Edgar Froese).

What are you reading?
John Sandford’s latest, Lee Child’s latest, catching up on Jeffery Deaver’s Rhyme novels and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole novels, a classic thriller by Desmond Bagley (a reread), Joe Lansdale’s Cold in July (another reread), and some friends’ upcoming novels. I tend to read a half-dozen books concurrently.

Favorite author / book?
Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates and The Stress of Her Regard (tie)

Favorite band / song?
Tie: Yes, ELP, Genesis, Tangerine Dream, Alan Parsons Project. Hard to pick one song, but maybe “Awaken” by Yes. “And You and I,” by Yes. “Firth of Fifth” by Genesis. “Old and Wise” by APP. I could keep listing songs as they occur. Favorite album is probably Tarkus, by ELP.

Least favorite band / song?
Anything too pop, too boring, too bubblegum, too simplistic.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
It’d be fun to direct a movie, but I think I’d be bad at it.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Ach, I’m terrible in one on one meetings. I’ve already met many of my musician and writer idols. I guess I’d like to have a beer with Keith Emerson. Have him let me mess around with his Moog modular synthesizer.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked at UPS for a couple months a long time ago (many, many years ago) – I hated it. Best job is writing, followed by my day job: working with students and maintaining a large book collection. Probably I’d like to have worked for a publisher, maybe as editor, but only during the good old days, when midlist writers were nurtured rather than cut off at the knees for not being bestsellers.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
No, but I’m glad you didn’t ask me: “Why werewolves?”
Pfft.  That’s an obvious one.  Because werewolves.
Right! LOL… You’d be surprised (maybe not) at how much I get that one.  Mind you, I don’t mind telling it again, but it’s out there in print already.  I’m also in love with thrillers, so I don’t HAVE to be a werewolf guy…

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Not off-hand, but I may think of some. Hmm, maybe the team of Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross, a couple of friends who have new collaborative work coming soon.
Cool.  If you want to point them in my direction we’ll see where it goes.
I will.  Tamara is one of my earliest friends in the business.   An excellent writer – and a wonderful person!

Got any questions for me?
Not yet, but again thanks for having me spout off!

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Twitter: @WDGagliani
Amazon Author Page:

Website: //
Next appearances:
Barnes & Noble in Racine, WI – Saturday, April 4, 2015 (with David Benton, Chris Larsen, and others)
OdysseyCon in Madison, WI – Fri-Sun, April 10-12 (with David Benton, John Everson, Jonathan Maberry, and many others)

About the Interviewee:
W.D. Gagliani is the author of the novels Wolf’s Trap (a past Bram Stoker Award nominee; Samhain), Wolf’s Gambit (47North), Wolf’s Bluff (47North), Wolf’s Edge (Samhain), Wolf’s Cut (Samhain), Wolf’s Blind (upcoming, Samhain), and Savage Nights (Tarkus Press). Since 1986 he has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous anthologies and publications such as Robert Bloch’s Psychos, Undead Tales, More Monsters From MemphisThe Midnighters Club, and many more. His book reviews and nonfiction have been included in, among others, The Milwaukee Journal SentinelChizineHorrorWorld, Cemetery Dance, HellnotesScience Fiction Chronicle, Flesh & Blood, The Scream Factory, The Writer magazine, and the books Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, They Bite, and On Writing Horror. Six of his short stories have earned Honorable Mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, and some are collected in the book Shadowplays. He is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the International Thriller Writers (ITW), and the Authors Guild.
The team of W.D. Gagliani & David Benton has published fiction in venues such as (upcoming) The X-Files: Trust No One (edited by Jonathan Maberry), SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, SNAFU: Wolves at the Door, Dark Passions: Hot Blood XIII, Zippered Flesh 2, Masters of Unreality (Germany), Malpractice: An Anthology of Bedside Terror, Splatterpunk Zine, and Dead Lines, along with the Kindle Worlds Vampire Diaries tie-in “Voracious in Vegas.” Some of their collaborations are available in the collection Mysteries & Mayhem. Together as “A.G. Kent” they have also written and published the middle grade adventure novel I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter.

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 Condemned; 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.
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.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
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