Book Nerd Interview
His career began in 2004 when he started serializing his horror fiction online, posting short chapters of a novel three times a week on a friend’s blog. Response to the project was so great that in 2004Thunder’s Mouth Press approached David Wellington about publishing Monster Island as a print book. His novels have been featured in Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and the New York Times.
He also made his debut as a comic book writer in 2009 with Marvel Zombies Return:Iron Man.
Wellington attended Syracuse University and received an MFA in creative writing from Penn State. He also holds a masters degree in Library Science from Pratt Institute.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Yeah. I saw Star Wars when I was six, and that got me reading science fiction, but I couldn’t find anything that was enough like Star Wars to be satisfying. So I decided I could do better. I was wrong, but it took me years to realize it. I wrote my first short story then, and haven’t stopped since.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It serves all kinds of purposes, from entertainment to helping us understand other people. But I think it’s less a question of its importance to society than it’s just something built into us. Humans tell stories the same way we make tools or think about the future—it’s part of our genetic makeup.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I don’t want to have a favorite book, because then everything else will get compared to it. The Lord of the Rings was hugely important to me when I was a kid and other fantasy novels never met that mark, so I disdained them—only to find many years later just how much I loved smaller, less epic works. I guess the answer is that this is always changing.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
A guy in grad school told me how varying sentence length could be used for emphasis. I asked how you could make a sentence sound like you were shouting it, and he told me that I should have a series of long, multi-clause sentences first, then use one very short sentence to make the point. It really works!
In your book; Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
It’s a thriller story about a special ops veteran who loses an arm in Afghanistan and thinks the war is over for him. But then he comes home and finds out there’s a new crisis, and he’s the only one who can handle it. But you don’t find out why he was chosen until the last few pages of the book.
For those who are unfamiliar with James, how would you introduce him?
He comes out of the respect I have for the veterans I’ve met in recent years—men and women who came home from Afghanistan and Iraq with an incredible sense of dignity and honor. They were given a hellish job under impossible conditions but on their return they didn’t complain, they didn’t ask for a parade. The quiet courage of these people just blew me away. Jim Chapel is just a guy who wants to be useful. To feel like losing his arm doesn’t make him a burden to anyone, so he does impossible things because he still can.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
There will be two sequels to Chimera, starting next year with Hydra. I also have a zombie epic in the pipeline, called Positive.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Laura Caxton to Edward from Twilight. Who knows? They might end up being friends.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Angel?
Just how much you can accomplish with high speed internet access. Angel is Jim Chapel’s operator—a little voice in his ear who helps him with map directions and looking things up in various criminal databases. It turned out that so much of our world is connected now she could do things like steal cars for him, have equipment delivered the second he stepped off an airplane, and so on. Some of what I learned was just downright scary, such as how to hack someone’s Facebook account in about three minutes. No, I have not tried this in real life, nor do I want to.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I sold records the year after I graduated from high school. It was a big store that was mostly used as a warehouse for a chain, and we were way out in the woods, so we didn’t get a lot of normal foot traffic. Instead we mostly got shoplifters and people who had gotten lost on the highway. I learned a lot about people and got some great, memorable characters out of that job.
Who was your first girlfriend?
We’re not talking about books anymore, are we? Okay, it was a punk rock girl named Hope I met at a concert.
Tell me about your first kiss
I suppose as a gentleman I shouldn’t say. But it was Hope again. We were at a party and she said we should go for a walk in the woods and… well. It happened so fast I had no real idea what was going on. I was really unclear on what to do with my tongue, but she didn’t seem to mind. She laughed a lot, which was nice.
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
The latter. I’ve had to do it maybe twice in my entire life and both times it was just devastating. I tell people I love them all the time.
When was the last time you cried?
I can’t remember. It was probably during some stupid movie. Stories work on me, and sad stories always get me choking up.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The 80s. Which worked out pretty well, since that was when it happened. It was a great time for growing up—no internet so you actually had to go out and meet people to have fun, and pop music at the time was actually musically interesting. I got to dye my hair all kinds of different colors and it actually shocked people.
What is your greatest adventure?
Life, man. It sounds pretty dopey, and I’ll admit, most of life is incredibly boring. But when you look back on it afterwards, you forget all the time you spent staring into space. I think of myself as a boring person, but I’ve crawled through pyramids in Egypt, been accused of espionage by a librarian at the United Nations, jumped on stage at a Cure concert… it’s all about how you tell the story afterward.
Where can readers stalk you?
They can follow me on Twitter @LastTrilobite or look for me on Facebook (though I rarely use Facebook). I have a website at www.davidwellington.net. Thanks!
7 fugitives escape from a secret military facility in upstate New York, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.
7 super-soldiers gone rogue.
7 innocent citizens targeted for death.
Disabled Army Vet James Chase is drafted for a desperate mission to stop this lethal force. Aided by a mysterious woman named Angel and a courageous, beautiful veterinarian, Chase sets off on a hair-raising cross-country hunt.
But are the killers really rogue soldiers, or are they only the tip of a sinister conspiracy . . . the first piece of a shocking nightmarish plan that will lead to ultimate destruction?
Jim Chapel is the the type of character that has a deep back story that plays well into the plot. He is soldier who has suffered dearly in the line of duty and is quite visible with his prosthetic arm. He is a soldier all around, tough and forceful, and he never lets his flaws slow him down. The fact that he is without an arm, people tend to underestimate him. There is an instant attraction to his character that readers will enjoy.
The story really picks up when Chapel is summoned to the Pentagon and is given a very secretive mission. The danger exponentially increases as he is set to capture the escapees. He is about to go face to face with a group of genetically modified humans blindfolded. He has no clue as to what each of them are capable of. Capturing them is not only his mission, but to also uncover the conspiracy as to why they were released.
Wellington has certainly weaved a story that will have readers on the edge of their seats. Every turn of the page is filled with action and suspense. The construction of characters and events are done with precision which is prominent throughout the book. The writing is simply amazing and no sentence goes to waste. Readers will find no dull moment. The dialogue between characters are placed to further the story plot that skipping parts is not even an option to consider. The details that surrounds the book provides support for a viable conclusion. Chimera is well-crafted and fully compelling and satisfying.
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