Mar 10, 2010

David Niall Wilson - Interview and Contest

Please welcome veteran horror writer David Niall Wilson who has recently published the urban fantasy Vintage Soul (Five Star, December 2009). The novel's protagonist is Donovan DeChance, a book collector, mage, and private investigator.

[See contest details at the end of the interview. Contest is international]

PVN: Thanks for joining PVN today, David. Let me begin by asking about your latest book. What is the premise of Vintage Soul?

David: In Vintage Soul, a vampire is having a party.  He's showing off his wine and brandy collection – all infused with the blood of the famous, the powerful, and the odd throughout history.  His lover, also a vampire, is kidnapped right out of the party, despite magical security of the highest order.  Donovan DeChance is the man the supernatural denizens of San Valencez call on when something is beyond their understanding, and he's hired to look into the kidnapping.

Then things get complicated.  Donovan is the victim of a robbery in which he loses a very old manuscript, and when he starts to put together all the pieces, he realizes a lot more is at stake (no pun intended) than the disappearance of a single vampire.  There is another power at work, and if Donovan doesn't find a way to stop a very ancient and forbidden ritual from reaching its completion, it could mean serious trouble for the city, and possibly the world.

PVN: Describe the character of Donovan DeChance. (I would especially like to know about his old manuscript collection.)

David: Donovan is much older than the thirty or so years he seems to be.  He has been collecting he books, manuscripts, spells and secrets of the magical world for a very long time (eventually I will write a book that gives more of the early story).  In more modern times, he has begun scanning the books and manuscripts into a huge computer archive and then locking the more dangerous things away.  He is sort of a "cowboy" or "knight in shining armor" type – he sees that there is imbalance in the magical world, and he works to set things right before it gets out of hand.

PVN: What are the characteristics of the vampires in VS?

David: The vampires, for the most part, are very "urban".  Johndrow, the vamp throwing the initial party, is very rich.  There is another family of vampires who have handled the banking in the city since it was founded, running separate business for the daylight world and those who walk the night.  Much like in many more modern vampire settings, they don't just wander the street randomly killing people.  They drink from people who want to fed off of, take victims occasionally, but basically "fit in" to the society around them.  There are younger vamps, a lot less controlled, and a band of them led by a guy named Vein tries to upstage DeChance in his investigation.  Rather than dwell on the "what can vampires do in my world" thing I left them pretty traditional – no sunlight, etc…but tried to give them that cool, urban flair.

PVN: Would you describe the underground society of San Valencez, CA

David: San Valencez, California is one of the firs fictional settings I ever created and then returned to.  It is the main setting for my novel Deep Blue, featuring a magically gifted / cursed blues musician, as well as home to Tommy Doyle, the "Psychos R Us" Cop.  By day, the city is loosely based on San Diego, where I spent a lot of years of my life wandering the streets and having adventures when I was in the US Navy.  By night, the daylight people – for the most part – disappear from the streets.  Supernatural creatures and dark powers lurk in every alley, frequent the bars and clubs and coffee shops, and blend in so that even when they mix with the daylight crowds, they just seem "different" or "edgy."

Donovan travels about the city through a magical corridor lined with portals that he discovered far in the past. The other nightwalkers are just as discreet.  They don't make waves or draw attention to themselves, though, I'm sure that in one of the upcoming books I'm going to have to deal with that first big encounter between the two worlds…who knows, maybe Tommy Doyle will make first contact.  There are places like Club Chaos, where dozens of different clubs co-exist under the same roof, some harder to find than others, and where mortals and others share dance floors, music, and fantasies.

It's interesting to me to populate the same city with entirely different worlds and to see some of the same places through very different sets of eyes.  The Bean and Buzz, Sid's (where Brandt and his band played in Deep Blue, and where the killer in Sins of the Flash met one of his victims) – and Club Chaos.  There's also the cemetery in nearby Lavender California that has been the setting for demonic rites and (in Vintage Soul) a bit of collecting from the graves.  It's a very rich, interesting environment, and that makes it doubly fun to write.

PVN: Talk about Heart of a Dragon, Book 2 of the DeChance Chronicles.

David: Heart of a Dragon takes place in "The Barrio," the poor Latin quarter of San Valencez.  There are two gangs, The Dragons and Los Escorpiones, who are vying for power.  They have remained pretty much even over the years, but suddenly a Voodoo Houngan, Anya Cabrera, begins aiding Los Escorpiones, and they are suddenly faster, stronger, and not quite human.

When the two gangs have a huge battle in a place called "Santini Park," one of Donovan's sources calls him to give him the news.  There are other forces in the Barrio – an old man named Martinez has lived there for so long he was ancient when the old men and women of the Barrio were children.  He is loosely associated with The Dragons, and when things start to get out of hand, they come to him.  Martinez and Donovan have a bad history that they've never resolved, but must become reluctant allies.

Salvatore Domingo Sanchez is a young boy with an extreme gift for art.  Beyond this, he dreams of dragons.  When, with special paints provided by Martinez, he begins to paint the dragons he dreams of on the members of the local gang by the same name, things get very dark, very quickly. Donovan and his lover, Amethyst, are caught up in a struggle for power that could well set a horde or dark spirits loose in the city.  Bikers.  Dragons. Art, and sex and even a werewolf…no vampires, I'm afraid, but the next book after that, which will likely be Kali's Tale (or something along that line for a title) will be almost all vamps (and Donovan).

PVN: How many books do you have planned for the DeChance Chronicles?

David: I have plots / synopses for at least three more, and just the other day I had an idea involving Donovan and "The Flying Dutchman".  There's also the origins story to be told.  I can't really imagine running out of ideas.

PVN: You began writing about vampires while under contract to White Wolf. Did you take this job so that you could write about vampire or some other reason? How did you feel about being a contract writer?

David: First, let me state that I wrote my first (and arguably most important) book – "This is My Blood," before I worked for White Wolf, and that is also a vampire novel.  It's just been re-released in digital formats.

To answer your question though, it was the fact that I was already a vampire author that they hired me.  I'd sold "This is My Blood," and had "A Candle Lit in Sunlight," the novella that novel was based on, reprinted in Year's Best Horror XIX.  I met the guys from White Wolf at a couple of conventions, and I pestered them into giving me a shot.  It was a very up-and-down experience.  I hate the "game speak" that is required, and I hate the restrictions of another person's world.  On the other hand, I loved some of the stories and characters.  Montrovant, the Lasombra Lord who is the main protagonist of The Grails Covenant Trilogy, is one of my favorite characters ever.

I have said several times that my impetus for creating DeChance and his world was the opportunity to write the same sorts of stories I did for White Wolf without the restrictions.

PVN: Describe your writing day and your writing environment?

David: There's no typical day.  I write between the cracks, before work – during lunch – and then I come home.  I have three kids here – so we go over homework and study from the time I get home to about 7:30.  Then we put my six year old to bed, and from 8:00 on I write in the same room where we all watch TV.  I learned to do this when in the US Navy – to write while distractions are all around me.  I get up, and I do it again.  I write pretty quickly, and I multi-task well.  I'm currently building a new Digital Publishing Company – Macabre Ink Digital – and writing a ghost-written Vietnam thriller novel while revising Heart of a Dragon, and a standalone Vampire novel titled (working title) "The Path of the Meteor," that I wrote many years ago.

PVN: What were some of your favorite books as a young reader?

David: When I was younger I read a lot of fantasy.  I liked BIG books and trilogies.  I also read a lot of historical fiction.  I've always been fascinated with the past.  As I grew older, joined the Navy, and started getting around more, I sort of migrated to dark fantasy – Tanith Lee and then, later Stephen King.  I have always been a bit "all over the place" with my tastes, and that has become more and more the case as the years pass away behind me.  I went through an Anne Rice phase that ended around "Queen of the Damned," and I've gone on binges (currently I'm reading the Harry Dresden novels).

When I was young, though, I wanted adventure, quests, and heroes.

PVN: Would talk bit about your history as a writer?

David: I started writing seriously in the mid-1980s.  I sent out hundreds of short stories, and most of them got rejected.  Then I started my own magazine, "The Tome," and learned a bit more about editing, and revising.  I sold my first novel, "This is My Blood," in the late 1990s.  Around that same time I sold a Star Trek Voyager novel to Pocket Books, (Chrysalis #12) and my first novel to White Wolf.

In the years following that I wrote several novels that never saw print, sold about 150 short stories, and wrote six novels for White Wolf.  I was having a bad time in my personal life then, and the licensed stuff was about all I could handle.  Then I wrote Deep Blue and sold it in 2004. Since then, there's been a steady stream of novels and short story collections.  I've won the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction and for poetry.  I've been president of the Horror Writer's Association.  I have a movie out, and another about to hit pre-production, but I never let up.

I think, the minute you quit doing what you do and believing in that work, you might as well curl up in a corner and wait for the darkness to fall.

PVN: What is your take on the preponderance of ebook piracy? Any suggested solutions?

David: I'm fairly new to e-books, but honestly, I don't think anyone who WOULD buy an e-book would steal one. I'm not sure that it's as bad a problem as people go on about it being.  Music has helped reshape the way we view fiction. Sure, some books will be stolen, copied, etc. – but they'll also be spread.  There are still a lot of honest readers who will buy downloads.  I don't worry much about the piracy.  My own books use no digital rights management, because I believe the more accessible your work is, the more likely it is to spread…the more you lock it down, the more you tempt those who "can" to steal it.

PVN: You have had a long association with the Horror Writers of America. I would like to know your definition of horror literature.

David: I have always felt that genres are the downfall of fiction. You can no longer do as Poe could, in his day.  If you write "horror" you are a horror writer, and it's not on the same level with mainstream, or literary fiction.  To me, it's all fiction.  It's all fantasy.  Some has darkness at its center, some is fluffy and pointless.

I think your answer lies in considering BOTH words.  Horror and literature – when blended properly, as with authors like Stephen King, and Peter Straub, Caitlin Kiernan and others – is among the most powerful, memorable work available.  Every genre and style has its hacks, and it's geniuses. To me, it's a matter of writing what you write – what moves you – and not trying to write a "vampire" book or a "horror" novel.

I believe (as far as the HWA is concerned) in a far-reaching definition – anything that speaks to the darkness should be considered, I think.  We should try to be inclusive, not exclusive in embracing new authors and new styles. Everything changes.

PVN: Where can readers find you?

David: I'm a very accessible person.  You can find me at my website  Glimpses Into an Overactive Mind

I'm on Twitter at: and on Facebook at

You can also find me publishing over at - where you can get This is My Blood and Deep Blue in digital.  (you are welcome to review copies)

PVN: Anything else you would like to add?

David:Just a hearty thanks for having me, and the hope that you and those who read your blog will enjoy Donovan DeChance and help me keep him moving into a dark, San Valencez future…

"It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." – Robert Southey


There will be three lucky winners. First winner drawn will receive an ARC of Vintage Soul. Second and Third winners will each receive an ebook download of This Is My Blood.


*Ask David a question: One chance

*Make a pertinent comment: One chance

You may also

*Link to this contest on any of the social network sites or your own web page. Let me know the url:  One chance for each link.

*If you are a follower: One chance

*If you are an email subscriber: One chance

*If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.

Contest is international! Contest ends March 24, 2010


EVA SB said...

I like the sound of the world you have created. Though for a non-USian it sounds a little strange to have Vampire's in sunny California :0)

Do you prefer to write in someone else's world or your own? Could you elaborate a little more on the differences between working in your own world and working in some else's?

I'm a follower and an email subscriber

David Niall Wilson said...

It's pretty much as simple as it sounds, really. When I'm writing, and it's going well, things flow very smoothly. That's how it works in my own worlds...

When I'm writing to spec - to the rules of a world I didn't create, it's entirely different. In White Wolf, it's more the "game play" powers and rules that hinder creativity. In, say, Stargate, or Star Trek, you have some rules also, but at least you have familiar characters and can listen to their voices in your head to determine their actions...

All of it is different, but I have to say I don't believe I can do my best work unless I'm free to write exactly as the story comes to me...

The short answer, then, is that I very much prefer my own worlds...

Julie said...

What was your favorite book or series growing up?
The book sounds really interesting. I'll have to add it to my wishlist.

I'm also a follower and subscriber

David Niall Wilson said...

When I was growing up, I read all the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Three Investigators, and other series of that sort. I think my favorite of them all would have been the Tom Swift books...I had a leaning toward the strange, even then...

Cherry said...

Question for David: Do you use people around you as some sort of a "mold" for your characters? Family, friends. Celebbrities? Is there a bit of the mother-in-law in one of the people in VS? :)

Re-posted at:

Re-tweeted at:

mischivusfairy-warrior [at] yahoo [dot] com

David Niall Wilson said...

I think we all use those around us as models in one way or another. It make it easier to "know" what a character will say, or do. No one in VS is too clearly modeled on anyone, except that there is a lot myself in Donovan, in the way he thinks and acts...

No mother-in-law. Of course, I never met my mother-in-law (at least not this time around)...

Astroboy said...

I love the idea that books of ancient magic spells would make the transition into digital form. Opens up all sorts of possibilities...imagine buying an iPhone app from the Apple store that would allow you to call up demons or put curses on your enemies. The end of the world as we know it would soon follow.

David Niall Wilson said...

Well, mostly he's trying to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, to catalog them, and to figure them out - find their secrets. Still, it's a good idea for later one...and he's certainly opened up the possibility of sorcerous Kindle content (lol)

justpeachy36 said...


How did you come up with the original concept of this book? It is something you've kicked around in your head for a long time, or something that kind of got handed to you?

I am a follower.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

Dar said...

Just popping in to say I've got this posted at Win a Book for you. No need to enter me.

David Niall Wilson said...

I said before that this was a work I wish I could have written when i was doing the White Wolf licensed work. More than that, it's also actually an idea that I pitched to them and they didn't take - a cross-over between MAGE and VtM their games...

So, not only did I create my own world,but I created a cross-over that I always wanted to write.


c. fern cook said...

very fascinating, you are multi-layered person, I am thinking that would make your writing 3-d and interesting.
I'll have to check out some of your work.

Anonymous said...

Dominic sounds like a very interesting character. A mage as a bibliophile (i'm one also, biblioifile that is) captures my imagination.

I'm wondering what is your library like?

I am an email follower


David Niall Wilson said...

Joan, first off, it's Donovan, not Dominic :)

My library is currently jumbled, but it has some amazing things in it...all of my books, including my prizes - the books signed by myself and folks like Stephen King, or Neil Gaiman - the beauty of being in a signed anthology is you get all those other autographs.

I also collect very old books...I'm particularly taken by the over-sized "Elephant Folios" that were illustrated by Gustave Dore and others...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I was just reading a book with Dominic as a character.

Please extend my apologies to Donovan the next time he's in your head!


David Niall Wilson said...

Donovan is always in my head...apology not even necessary. Heck, I LIKE the name Dominic...

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

+1 Do you read any book by contemporary vampire/paranormal/urban fantasy authors? If so, whose works do you enjoy?

+1: Donovan and "The Flying Dutchman" sounds cool, I'd check that one out :-) (I also wanted to say I love your hero's name, Donovan)

+1 tweeted about the interview here:

+1 I'm a follower of your blog

+1 I'm also an e-mail subscriber

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

David Niall Wilson said...

I am currently reading the Harry Dresden novels by Jim Butcher. I'm also a fan of Justine Musk's work, though there have not been many books from her yet. Loved Blood Angel and Lord of Bones. I read a lot of different things because I find it keeps my mind open and "learning".

The Flying Dutchman idea is the newest I've added to my list of possible series books. Heart of a Dragon, the second, deals with a young Mexican artist, biker gangs, dragons, another dimension, and Voodoo...I'm currently revising that one.

Erotic Horizon said...

Thanks you for for the intro Patricia..

I have seen this book and wasn't sure - I now definately would like to read it..

I love the concept and it seems to be very much a character driven book...

Please enter me...

Lovely to meet you David....


David Niall Wilson said...

I'm glad if anything I've said here tipped you toward reading, E.H. I really want this series to take off. I tend to write very character driven stories...the characters are what first draw me in, and without that, it's too much like work...


booklover0226 said...

Hi, David.

Vintage Soul sounds great. I look forward in reading it and its sequels.

What is your opinion on book trailers? Do you think they help in book sales?

I'm a blog follower.

I'm an email subscriber.

I posted on twitter...

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

David Niall Wilson said...

I'm not sure what to think of book trailers. For the most part, those I've seen are nothing more than slightly animated advertisements...there's no site like IMDB where millions go to see the new trailer.

I've seen a couple I thought were very cool and very well done, but have yet to see any evidence they effect book sales even slightly.

FrankSandy said...

Have you written other types of books?

I am a Google follower.

I subscribe to your e-mail newsletter.

dsandyboy said...

In the early years, when your books were rejected by publishers, how did you keep up your spirits?

You say you can't imagine running out of ideas. As a non-writer, I am amazed at how writers keep coming up with all their ideas.

I follow on Google

I am an e-mail subscriber.


David Niall Wilson said...


I've written all kinds of books. My first was a vampire novel "This is My Blood," but that came out (due to odd circumstances) after my Star Trek Voyager novel...I've done dark ages vampires, high fantasy, science fiction, and a few thrillers - not to mention some books that would drop between the dark fantasy and horror genres - like Deep Blue and Ancient Eyes - which will end up being books I and II of a trilogy titled "The Chord at the End of the Rainbow."

David Niall Wilson said...


All I can say is, I immersed myself in the whole process. I went to conventions, I published my own magazine, I wrote constantly and piled up the rejection slips, and I learned. I had a lot of early success with my short fiction, which helped me keep up my spirits and confidence for's always hard...

Rabid Fox said...

A question for David: I'm curious about the ways in which authors craft their stories--some outline meticulously while others just hit the keyboard at full speed with little more than a general idea in their head. Where would your writing style fall between those two extremes? Or does it vary from story to story?

e-mail: rabidfox(at)

David Niall Wilson said...


I used to not believe in outlines. Then I reached a point in my career where I needed to "ramp up" for a while and get a lot done in a short period of time. At that point, I tried Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month).

Knowing I had only 30 days, I started out with a chapter outline, just a paragraph or two about each proposed chapter. I diverged from that outline, but wound back to it eventually, and it helped immensely. Since then, I have always started with a chapter outline. I almost never follow it all the way through, but having the twists basically worked out in your head before hand keeps you from writing yourself into corners.

I've written a great number of posts about outlining at my website : - if you search for outline there you'll get more than you were looking for.

I don't do the super-detailed outlines though, and never could. By the time I was ready to write, I'd be sick of the whole mess...

Hope that answers your question?


Rabid Fox said...

It certainly does. Thanks. And I'll be sure to check out your site for those articles too.

David Niall Wilson said...

I'm glad. I hope I've tempted at least a few of you to pop over to or Barnes & and pick up Vintage Soul. In my blog today I commented on the difficulty of launching a new series...

Glimpses Into an Overactive Mind

BookFreak said...

Question for David:
What was your inspiration to write your books? Was it something or you were bored one day, came up with an idea and put it on paper.

This book sounds cool. I like the fact that its going to be in the males pint of view, well at least I think.

I follow you.

I subscribed to your email subscription.

On my sidebar under "contests"


Another Daydreamer said...

You can write in the same room as a noisy tv and family? That is amazing! I think I'd need ear plugs. :D

*I'm a follower and subscriber.

David Niall Wilson said...

Book Freak

I have always just said I was a writer. Even in High School, if I could do a story, or a poem for extra credit, that's what I did. There was a "blank" period where I was in the US Navy and SAID I was a writer, but didn't write much but poetry...then, in the early 80s, I took a course from Writer's Digest, "Writing to Sell Fiction," and never looked back.

On the male POV...I've certainly written from both. My first (and still most popular) book - "This is My Blood," is written in the voice of Mary Magdalene, fallen angel and vampire...


David Niall Wilson said...

Another Daydreamer....

I learned that in the Navy too. When you are out at sea on a ship, you work in a shop with twenty or so people sharing a TV, coffee pot, and everything else...sleep in a room with 80 people. You learn to seal yourself off. I'm told it's a talent, but it doesn't seem that way when Trish or someone talks to me and has to repeat what they said three times to drag me out of wherever I was writing...