Douglas Wynne is the author of the much buzzed about The Devil of Echo Lake, and his new book, Steel Breeze, just came out! He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog!
Douglas has also kindly offered up a copy of STEEL BREEZE for a giveaway, so be sure to check out the details below the post!
Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer after a friend loaned me his dad’s copy of The Stand at age fifteen. At that age, you’re too naïve to be intimidated by a great book. And I did write a fantasy novel in high school, but then I was seduced by the electric guitar and I spent my wasted youth playing in bands and trying to write novels in the form of song lyrics. That didn’t work out. I went to music school, worked at a recording studio, burned out on the hours, moved through a variety of odd jobs (the oddest may have been counting and shipping panties and pom-poms for a cheerleader supply company), and finally got around to writing a horror novel about the music business.
Will you tell us a bit about your new book, STEEL BREEZE?
Steel Breeze is a crime thriller about a modern day samurai serial killer. It’s a fast paced, high-tension story about a family in jeopardy, an FBI agent tracking a killer across the country, and a writer in a small New England town trying to protect his son while his in-laws question his mental stability and fitness as a parent. My main goal for the book was to push the suspense hard.
Why should we root for Desmond Carmichael?
Desmond is a widower, a single parent, not a typical hero. He’s a little bit reclusive and not very physical. He also has regrets. He’s someone who has struggled with guilt and sobriety. But when his son is threatened he becomes one tough, tenacious motherfucker. Desmond’s son, Lucas, is all he has left, and he’s determined not to fail as a parent and protector, but he’s up against both the local authorities and a killer with almost supernatural abilities.
What is your writing process like? Will you walk us through it?
I wrote The Devil of Echo Lake longhand and did a lot of editing as I typed it up. That book went through about nine drafts with a lot of trimming and refining. Steel Breeze took about five drafts. These days I’m typing from draft one because now I have deadlines, but I also retype almost every line in late drafts, and read every line aloud to get the rhythm and flow right.
A friend recently pointed me toward a podcast in which Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that speeches used to sound different back when they were composed with quill pens. It was because the quill could hold just enough ink for a sentence that could be spoken on one breath. That made me want to go out and buy a quill. I’m very conscious of the sound of my writing, which probably comes from being a singer and songwriter for so long.
As for story, I like to improvise the first draft and discover the story as I go. Then, based on what I’ve learned about the characters, I revise and retell. I like to cut more than I add in later drafts, and I love to discover patterns and themes that were subconscious and sort of bring them out of the wood grain in the polishing phase. That’s my favorite part.
What are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
I grew up on Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Peter Straub and they all made a lasting imprint on me. But I also consciously immerse myself in certain styles and genres before writing something in a similar vein. Before writing Steel Breeze I read a lot of suspense novels by Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben, and Peter Abrahams. I’ll fill my head with Elmore Leonard when I’m focusing on dialog. Arthur Machen and Joyce Carol Oates had an influence on The Devil of Echo Lake because they’re both masterful at evoking dread. So it varies a bit depending on what I’m trying to achieve.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Imajica by Clive Barker. It’s my favorite book of all time, and I was sad to find that it loses something with repeated reading because it’s structured like a byzantine puzzle that beautifully unlocks and reveals itself. I’d love to discover its secrets again.
What do you consider off limits (if anything) when it comes to horror?
I’m tempted to say that nothing is off limits as long as it serves the story in a genuine way and isn’t just thrown in for shock value. I do have fun putting my characters through the wringer, and I like unpredictable violence in a story, but I’m not interested in telling bleak, sadistic stories either. Characters may be just names on a page that become people to us through a conjuring trick of empathy, but I want readers to feel that I’m not going to abuse their empathy.
You’re a musician, and music had a big part in your first novel, THE DEVIL OF ECHO LAKE. What songs would be on your soundtrack to STEEL BREEZE?
One of These Days by Pink Floyd
The Final Cut by Pink Floyd (detect a theme here?)
Let it Be by The Beatles (favorite song of the boy in the book)
King of Pain by The Police (This could very well be Desmond’s song)
The Soundtrack to The Last Samurai – I often had it on loop while writing.
What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to taking a vacation with my family and unplugging from the web for a while. Maybe I’ll write a short story on paper. And I’m about fifty pages into a dark, urban thing with a Lovecraft influence. So we’ll see if it has legs. It definitely has tentacles.
You MUST fill out the form below (if you’ve signed into Rafflecopter before, it will remember you!)
2.) Giveaway is for 1 copy of STEEL BREEZE by Douglas Wynne to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to US residents only
4.) You must enter on or before 8/6/13
5.) Giveaway books courtesy of Douglas Wynne
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
About STEEL BREEZE:
A BLACK WIND BLOWS AND LIFE HANGS IN THE BALANCE.
It’s been a year since novelist Desmond Carmichael’s wife Sandy was brutally murdered. Now, with someone stalking him and his four-year-old son, he fears that the wrong man has been imprisoned for the crime. Sandy’s parents and Detective Chuck Fournier have a different fear: that Desmond, despondent over Sandy’s death, has become too unstable to raise his own son.
To prove them wrong, Desmond must work outside the law to defeat a threat born in the dust of an American wasteland, baptized by fire, and hellbent on riding the winds of karma.