The Gore Spotlight

David Dunwoody HMS Q&A

From short stories to novels, and zombies to “anti-heroes” to Cthulu, David Dunwoody has marked his territory along the entire horror spectrum. I recently had the opportunity to get some questions answered by the horror author and now have the opportunity to share the entertaining and informative interview with all of our HMS readers!

HMS: David, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today, we’re glad to have you on the site!

DD: I’d like it noted for the record that I’ve waived my right to an attorney as a show of good faith.

HMS: Well, we will just have to make sure this is all off the record…

First, let’s have you give our readers the skinny on why and how you got into writing, especially horror fiction.

DD: I’ve always had to write. Back in 2004 I was writing reviews and stories for a magazine called The Hacker’s Source when my editor mentioned a new publisher called Permuted. I was writing a zombie serial called “AfterDead” for Hacker and Permuted was paying for zombie stories. I decided to submit something set in the same world as the serial and made my first sale – from then on I’ve never looked back, not unless I hear a weird giggle in the dark behind me. That’s the how, but the why isn’t so easy to answer. I think I’m drawn to horror as a genre because it’s a healthy outlet. Horror writers, for the most part, are some of the nicest folks around and I think it’s got a lot to do with both the introspection and catharsis afforded by dark fiction. It’s that, that and our meds.

HMS: Which is your favorite genre of horror to write in? You seem to touch on all sorts of different parts of the horror spectrum in your work.

DD: I definitely don’t like to feel bound by the conventions of any particular genre or sub-genre, but I do find that I return again and again to apocalyptic stories. I find it really interesting the way that an apocalyptic event molds characters’ paths. It can bring people closer, strengthen personal resolve, or just as easily let loose a monster society had been keeping at bay. I also like to go “post-post-apocalyptic” and look at the existence of those who were born into a post-apoc world, who’ve never known any different.

I’ve been fascinated by apocalyptic stories since childhood. Back then it was all about the idea of using a crisis to find one’s place and purpose - fantasies about becoming the hero in a black-and-white, good-versus-evil scenario. Now that I’m a little more cynical I find the gray area most interesting.

HMS: In addition to your novels, you seem to be involved in quite a bit of horror anthologies. Tell us what draws you to collaborating with other authors.

DD: The short stories have always been my favorite type to write and to read. I like a quick shot that delivers the goods but also leaves you thinking. Even though I’ve come to enjoy doing novels a lot more in recent years, having a place in an anthology with neighbors and a shared roof still feels like home.

HMS: Explore the world of “Anti-Heroes” with us. I’m very curious to hear about where your character “Enslaver of Worlds” came from and how the ideas for the story came to you.

DD: The alien warrior who’d become the Enslaver of Worlds was from a comic I drew when I was 11 or so - Martians create supersoldier, supersoldier spontaneously rebels to become Earth’s wisecracking defender. For Anti-Heroes I wanted things to be much darker so there had to be ambiguity and doubt. The alien now is a hero without a homeland, an artificial lifeform who has to decide where to invest his loyalty and why.

HMS: Your last release was “Harvest Cycle”, a bizarre take on the apocalypse that sounds really intriguing. Robots, cannibal nomads, and an ancient God? What other horrors lie in the pages of this book?

DD: It’s a Cthulhu Mythos story but I don’t think one has to be versed in Lovecraft (or even a fan) to enjoy it. This was the first novel where I really said to Hell with boundaries and went all-out with weird horror, sci-fi and a dash of dark humor. Alice in Wonderland is as strong an influence here as anything HPL wrote. I’d say that, if you’ve ever questioned your own sanity, The Harvest Cycle will speak to you. Although let me add that if the book literally does speak to you, call 911.

HMS: What are you currently working on, David? What type of spoilers are you able to give us about your next project?

DD: I’m sort of blowing around in the wind right now. I have two novels I’m shopping around and a collection that I can’t quite announce yet but which is going to happen. This year I’ve shifted my focus largely from short stories to novels and I think that’s going to become a permanent thing.


HMS: Over the years, what have you found to be the biggest challenge for you as a horror writer?

DD: Other than pronouncing “horror” so that it doesn’t sound like an obscenity (although to some, it makes no difference) – I’d say the challenge for me has been growing beyond the “idea story.” The question “what if?” is the heart of speculative fiction but it’s not the whole story, and early on I wrote a few thin pieces with no character development where it basically read like, “How cool would it be if a zombie did THIS instead of THIS? WOW right?” What got me past that was reading. Reading the authors I love and realizing what I loved most was a great idea with great characters caught up in it.

"The question “what if?” is the heart of speculative fiction but it’s not the whole story..."

HMS: Who can you say are your greatest influences in the writing world and why?

DD: I love Stephen King’s voice. At times his prose reads like a conversation with the reader, as if he’s got his arm around your shoulders and he’s letting you in on something. I learned a lot about characters reading his stuff. Learned nothing about characters from Lovecraft, but fell in love with his cosmic nihilism. Clive Barker is like a painter using words instead of oils. His horror is as beautiful as it is disturbing and I stand in awe of it.

HMS: If you had the chance to experience one night of absolute terror (think Cabin in The Woods style) what horror world would you throw yourself into and why?

DD: Because I’ve always loved slashers, I tend to think Friday the 13th. But I’m a first-act victim, no doubt about that. So maybe the literary/comic/film world of Barker’s Cenobites. At least you can bargain with Cenobites. A little moral ambiguity and a sick sense of humor go a long way there, especially when compared with the world of Crystal Lake, where everyone just dies because that’s what you do at Crystal Lake.

HMS: And now, the time has come for you to fight the undead at your door. The object to your left is your sole means of holding them off! Tell us what it is!

DD: Shit, my PC? Good thing I back everything up five times over. This question, by the way, highlights one of the advantages of still being a PC dinosaur. Try to bludgeon a zombie with your iPad, people, I dare you.

HMS: Hey, my iPad is heavier than it looks.

David, thank you again for answering all of our questions at Horror Metal Sounds. It’s been fun! We look forward to your future works and keep spreading the horror!

DD: Thank you!

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Stevie Kopas, Managing Editor HMS

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