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Nevermore by David Niall Wilson - Buy the Book Tour and *G*i*v*e*a*w*a*y*

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe                                                                                                                                              

I'm thrilled to have no other than David Niall Wilson as my special guest today and to fnd out a little more about him and

'Nevermore'.  Make yourself comfortable, let the slave-drone mix you something sparkling, and let's get started!



HL: Tell us a little more about yourself, with three things not many people know about you. 

DNW:  I've been writing seriously since the mid 1980s.  I published my own magazine in the late 1980s, early 1990s called The Tome.  I served for twenty years in the United States Navy, where a good number of my stories and novels were written.  I have 31 books out now, including novels, licensed novels, short story collections and one book titled "American Pies" that is about – well – baking pies.  It's also something of a memoir.  Three things:

1)      I occasionally tear up during emotional movie and television scenes, and even when reading books, if the story is that good.
2)      I'm a member of a motorcycle "club" – Tiburon MC – formed in Rota Spain and could write horror stories about the initiation.
3)      I have visited a Bodega in southern Spain and tasted Amontillado – I don't care what Poe says, it is one of the nastiest varietals of sherry available.

HL:  Wow - that's an awful lot of books - and I'm with you on the 'tearing up' I'm just the same! So what comes first: the plot or the characters?
DNW:  I'm not sure this is a question with an apples or oranges kind of answer.  I often start with nothing more than a clever title.  My first collection is centered around a story titled "The Fall of the House of Escher."  That story began with characters and the plot developed as I wrote.

Many of my stories and novels now take place in the fictional cities and universe I've been slowly creating for them.  In these cases, a lot of the characters existed before the plot came along.  This is almost always true of series works, like my DeChance Chronicles, or the novels of the O.C.L.T.  In situations like that, you already know who the main characters will be – and the only characters remaining are those they will interact with in that particular story.  These works are generally borne of a plot and then adapted to the existing world and characters.

That said, I am a character driven author.  I have always been able to put myself into the minds and thought patterns of those I create.  I believe this is the most important thing about characterization – if you can't imagine how your character would react to the plot at hand, it will never ring true.  You might think of the plot first, in other words, but to bring the plot to life you have to filter it through the characters.  Sometimes this process changes a plot irrevocably.

HL:   What a fascinating answer - and I so agree about the characters. *sigh* mine change the plot all the time! :) Tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

DNW: My latest novel is Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe.  It's an alternate history, as well as a dark fantasy, proposing an identity for Lenore, a reason for the poem The Raven to be written, and tying elements of fantasy, mystery, romance and intrigue into a single storyline.
I think people will fall in love with Edgar and Lenore.  At least, I hope they will.  Fans of my work will recognize the swamp witch Nettie, and will smile as my character, Donovan DeChance, waltzes in at one point in the novel, setting up the next book and tying Nevermore in as a sort of book 4.5 between Book IV of the DeChance Chronicles, Kali's Tale, and Book V (in progress) which has the working title of A Midnight Dreary. 

HL:   Oh, it sounds wonderful, I've just downloacerd 'Nevermore and am so looking forward to reading it - and I love alternate history and dark fantasy, so I know I'll love it, and I'm sure other readers will too! If someone were to play one of  your characters in a movie, which character and what actor would it be and why?

DNW: I like to play casting director in my head, and have written some screenplays and TV proposals.  I could get too deeply into this question, so I'm going to give you a more obvious answer.  The character I'd most like to see portrayed is Donovan DeChance.  Any of three actors would work for this part, all for similar reasons, and all with an absolutely different outcome.  I'm not going to choose them because they physically resemble the character, but because I have never been disappointed in any character they have portrayed, and would love to see their interpretation.  Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., and – of course – Johnny Depp.  Donovan requires a mix of old-world sophistication and humor.  He's a book collector, a mage, an investigator when it's called for – and a very resourceful man.  He's also been alive since the mid 1800s, and has seen a lot of life – both good, and bad. 

HL:  Great cast line-up! :) I'd certainly want to see the film if it happens! What have you learned about writing since you were published that surprised you the most?

DNW: I'm afraid that this won't be a very positive answer.  The thing that has surprised me the most about writing – which I consider an art – is that the business of writing has very little to do with art.  Most of our great literary talents have succeeded despite the system set up to publish and promote them, not because of it, and I shudder to think how many very talented, passionate authors have been pounded into drudges and hacks, spilling out what "sells" instead of what they are compelled to create.
I have played that game myself, and though I've always tried very hard to maintain the same level of quality in my work, whether working in the White Wolf World of Darkness, or with the characters of Star Trek and Stargate, I have always been aware that precision and style are not art.

I've been working a long time on a book about writing, and about my life.  If it's ever published, it will be titled "Writing What Hurts," and that's the most important thing, to me.  If what you are working on does not in some way move you – if you aren't caught up in it, loving it, sometimes hating it, dying with your characters, living and loving in their lives – you are just going through the motions.  Sadly, to make a living writing, it has long been necessary to please agents and editors before yourself, and in this process we have – I think – lowered the expectations of readers to a point where a lack of heart in the writing doesn't cause a stir, as long as the formulas are familiar, and the constant barrage of marketing tells them what is good.
Thank god for the exceptional – Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Caitlin Kiernan, Kathe Koja – authors who refuse to be told what to write.

HL:  That is so very true, David.  Now let's change tack a little and talk some more about your writing process. Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you  find it  distracts you?

DNW: Nothing distracts me.  I served in the Navy on a number of ships.  If I had not developed the trick of compartmentalizing my mind, I'd never have written a word.  On board a ship there are very few places you can go to work where there won't be at least a few others around you – constant noise and distraction.

I love to listen to music when I write.  I have written a crazy number of words to the music of Concrete Blonde, Depeche Mode, Siouxie and the Banshees, Ten Inch Men, and scores of others.  I play guitar, and sing a little – music has always been a large part of everything important in my life.

HL:  What a fascinating answer - and speaking personally, I just love to listen to the guitar! What is your personal definition of success?

DNW: Since I consider myself a storyteller, success to me would be for my stories to be read, experienced, and loved.  Sure, I would like to be comfortable, and I'm happy that I can provide for my family, but what I wouldn’t' give to be walking down the street and see someone with their nose buried in a book – and to realize it's one of mine.  I mean, I've seen sales numbers, know that hundreds of thousands of people have actually read my words, but the feedback in this profession is incredibly sparse until you reach rockstar status, at which point you probably need to move somewhere private.  Us "in-betweeners" live for the times our words reach others.

HL:   I think most writers, if they writer for the love of story telling, would certainly agree with that. If you were an animal, which one do you think you would be, and why?

DNW: A Raven, or a very large crow.  I have always been drawn to these birds – Corvids of all sorts – but ravens most of all.  Even before the movie "The Crow" made it cool, I was up on the folklore and legends surrounding these guys.  Both Donovan DeChance and Edgar Poe are accompanied by them in my books…
I love their darkness, their mystery, the intelligence that they are not supposed to have – and the notion that when all of this is done – this life – one of them will be there to carry me on to whatever comes next.

HL:  What a wonderful concept, I think birds of all species have far more intelligence that many people give them credit for. I see you are also a fellow animal lover, I think we can learn so much from the creatures which share our planet.  So - Many authors relate their characters to people they know.  Is this the case with your characters and do you see yourself in any of them?

DNW: There is a lot of me in a great number of my characters, but none of them would be based directly on that one framework.  I study people.  I draw characters from the bits and pieces I see and hear around me.  My novel The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature – for instance.  There are characters in there loosely based on local people – speech patterns, habits – it's how I build the stories, one character at a time.
More often than I steal entire characters, you'll find me using names.  Most of my co-workers ended up in my sci-fi novel The Second Veil – A Tale of the Scattered Earth, and off and on I drop colleagues, other authors, etc. into books.  I don't think any of us could create a real character to save our souls if we didn't have life spread out all around us, the shoppers in Walmart, the guys hanging out at a bar, our friends and co-workers, all dealing with life and on display for us to memorize, revise, and put to use.

Thank you so much for taking time to visit and take part in this interview. It’s been a thrill having you here and learning more about you and your writing. I wish you even greater success, now and in the future.

ABOUT DAVID NIALL WILSON

David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer’s Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, his novels include Maelstrom, The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, Ancient Eyes, On the Third Day, The Orffyreus Wheel, and Vintage Soul – Book One of the DeChance Chronicles. The Stargate Atlantis novel “Brimstone, written with Patricia Lee Macomber is his most recent. He has over 150 short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and five collections, the most recent of which were “Defining Moments,” published in 2007 by WFC Award winning Sarob Press, and the currently available “Ennui & Other States of Madness,” from Dark Regions Press. His work has appeared in and is due out in various anthologies and magazines. David lives and loves with Patricia Lee Macomber in the historic William R. White House in Hertford, NC with their children, Billy, Zach, Zane, and Katie, and occasionally their genius college daughter Stephanie.

Nevermore  - Genre: Dark Fantasy

About Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe


Nevermore CoverOn the banks of Lake Drummond, on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp, there is a tree in the shape of a woman.

One dark, moonlit night, two artists met at The Lake Drummond Hotel, built directly on the borderline of North Carolina and Virginia. One was a young woman with the ability to see spirits trapped in trees and stone, anchored to the earth beyond their years. Her gift was to draw them, and then to set them free. The other was a dark man, haunted by dreams and visions that brought him stories of sadness and pain, and trapped in a life between the powers he sensed all around him, and a mundane existence attended by failure. They were Eleanore MacReady, Lenore, to her friends, and a young poet named Edgar Allan Poe, who traveled with a crow that was his secret, and almost constant companion, a bird named Grimm for the talented brothers of fairy-tale fame.

Their meeting drew them together in vision, and legend, and pitted their strange powers and quick minds against the depths of the Dismal Swamp itself, ancient legends, and time.

Once, upon a shoreline dreary, there was a tree. This is her story.

Excerpt
Chapter One
The room was low-ceilinged and deep. Smoke wafted from table to table, cigars, pipes, and the pungent aroma of scented candles. Laughter floated out from the bar, separated by a low half-wall from a small dining area, where the bartender regaled the crowd with a particularly bawdy story. In the corners, more private conversations took place, and at the rear, facing the Intercoastal Waterway beyond, the door stood open to the night, letting the slightly cooler air of evening in and the sound and smoke free.

The smoke prevented the illumination from a series of gaslights and lanterns from cutting the gloom properly. Smiles gleamed from shadows and the glint of silver and gunmetal winked like stars. It was a rough crowd, into their drinks and stories, plans and schemes.
Along the back wall, facing a window that looked out over the waterway and the Great Dismal Swamp beyond, a lone figure sat with her back to the room. Her hair was long and light brown, braided back and falling over her shoulder to the center of her back. She was tall and slender with smooth, tanned skin. She was dressed for travel, in a long, floor length dress that covered her legs, while allowing ease of motion. The crowd swirled around her, but none paid her any attention.
She paid no attention to anything but the window. Her gaze was fixed on the point where an intricate pattern of branches and leaves crossed the face of the moon.

There was a sheaf of paper on the table, and she held a bit of chalk loosely between the thumb and index finger of her right hand. She formed the trees, the long strong lines of the trees, the fine mesh of branches and mist. Her fingers moved quickly, etching outlines and shading onto her sketch with practiced ease.

A serving girl wandered over to glance down at the work in progress. She stared at the paper intently, and then glanced up at the window, and the night beyond. She reached down and plucked the empty wine glass from the table.

“What are they?” she asked.

The woman glanced up. Her expression was startled, as if she’d been drawn back from some other place, or out of a trance. She followed the serving girl’s gaze to the paper.

Among the branches, formed of limbs and leaves, mist and reflected light, faces gazed out, some at the tavern, some at the swamp, others down along the waterway. They mixed so subtly with the trees themselves that if you were not looking carefully, they seemed to disappear.

“I don’t know,” the woman said. “Not yet. Spirits, I suppose. Trapped. Tangled.”

“You are a crazy woman,” the girl said. There was no conviction in her words. She continued to stare at the sketch. Then, very suddenly, she stepped back. She stumbled, and nearly dropped her tray.
The woman glanced up at her sharply.

“What?”

“That…face.” The girl stepped back to the table very slowly, and pointed to the center of the snarl of branches. The tip of her finger brushed along the lines of a square-jawed face. The eyes were dark and the expression was a scowl close to rage.

“I’ve seen him before,” she said. “Last year. He…he was shot.”

“Can you tell me?”

The girl shook her head. “Not now. I have to work. If I stand here longer there will be trouble. Later? I must serve until the tavern closes, a few hours…”

The artist held out her hand.

“My Name is Eleanor, Eleanor MacReady, but friends call me Lenore. I’ll be here, finishing this drawing, until you close. I know that it will be late, but I am something of a night person. Can we talk then? Maybe in my room?”

The girl nodded. She glanced down at the drawing again and stepped back. Then she stumbled off into the crowded tavern and disappeared. Lenore stared after her for a long moment, brow furrowed, then turned back to the window. The moon had shifted, and the image she’d been drawing was lost. It didn’t matter. The faces were locked in her mind, and she turned her attention to her wine glass, and to the paper. The basic design was complete, but there was a lot of shading and detail work remaining. She had to get the faces just right – exactly as she remembered them. Then the real work would begin.

Even as she worked, her mind drifted out toward the swamp, and toward her true destination. She didn’t know the exact location of the tree, but she knew it was there, and she knew that she would find it. She didn’t always see things in her dreams, but when she did, the visions were always true.

A breeze blew in through the open window, and she shivered.

The face she was working on was that of an older man. He had a sharp, beak of a nose and deep-set shadowed eyes. The expression on his face might have been surprise, or dismay. His hair was formed of strands of gray cloud blended with small twigs and wisps of fog as she carefully entered the details.

There were others. She’d counted five in all, just in that one glimpse of the swamp. She thought she could probably sit right here, at this window, and work for years without capturing them all. How many lives lay buried in the peat moss and murky water? How many had died, or been killed beside the long stretch of the Intercoastal Waterway? She tilted her head and listened. The breeze seemed to carry voices from far away, the sound of firing guns, the screams of the lost and dying.

She worked a woman’s features into a knotted joint in one of the tree’s branches. The face was proud. Her lip curled down slightly at the edge, not so much in a frown, as in determination. Purpose. From the strong cheekbones and distinctive lines of the woman’s nose, Lenore sensed she’d been an Indian. How had she come here, soul trapped fluttering up through the sticky fingers of the ancient trees?
Around her, the sounds of revelry, arguments of drunken, belligerent men, clink of glasses, full and empty, and the sound of a lone guitar in a far corner surrounded her. She felt cut off – isolated in some odd way from everyone, and everything but the paper beneath her fingers. Now and then she paused, reached out for her glass, and sipped her wine.

No one troubled her and that in and of itself, was odd. A woman – an attractive woman – alone in a place like the Halfway House was an oddity. She should have been a target. She was not. A few men glanced her way, but something about her – the way she bent over her work, the intensity of her focus – kept them away. She worked steadily, and one by one, the others drifted out the doors, some to rooms, others to wander about with bottles and thoughts of their own. Eventually, there were only a few small groups, talking quietly, the bartender, and the girl.

There was nothing more she could do. She had drawn an eerily accurate recreation of the trees over the waterway, and of the five faces she’d found trapped in their branches. She sensed things about them but knew little. She did not need to know. She knew that she had to set them free, to allow them to move on to the next level. Something had bound them – some power, or some part of themselves they were unwilling to release. They did not belong, and though she knew that most of the world either ignored, or did not sense these things at all – she did. All those trapped, helpless beings weighed on her spirit like stones. She was fine until she saw them, but once that happened, she was bound to set them free. It was her gift – her curse? Sometimes the two were too closely aligned to be differentiated.
She rose, drained the last of the wine in her cup, and gathered her pencils. She tucked the drawing into the pocket of a leather portfolio, careful not to smudge it. Soon, it would not matter, but until she’d had a chance to finish her work, it was crucial that nothing be disturbed.

The girl, who had been busy wiping the spilled remnants of ale, wine, and the night from the various tables and the surface of the bar, wandered slowly over.

“I’m in the corner room,” Lenore said, smiling. “The one farthest in on the Carolina side.”

The girl nodded. She glanced over at the bartender, then turned back.

“I will come as soon as I can.” She glanced down at the portfolio. “You have finished?”

Lenore nodded, but only slightly. “I have finished the basic drawing, yes.”

“He was a bad man,” the girl said. “A very bad man. I have never seen him there – in the trees – before tonight. I don’t like that he watches.”

“After tonight, he will not,” Lenore said, reaching to lay her hand on the girl’s shoulder. “But I’d love to know who he is – who he was. I seldom know the faces I’ve drawn. You saw him – in my drawing, and in the trees. Most see nothing but branches.”
“I will come soon,” the girl said, turning and hurrying back toward the bar.

Lenore watched her go, frowned slightly, and then turned. She had to exit through the front door and follow a long porch along the side of the building where it turned from the saloon in the center to a line of rooms on the Carolina side. There were similar rooms on the Virginia side, but her business was in the swamp, and the corner room gave her a better view of what lay beyond.

As she made her way to her room, she heard the steady drum of hooves. She stopped, and turned. A carriage had come into view, winding in from the main road that stretched between the states. It was dark, pulled by a pair of even darker horses. She stood still and watched as it came to a halt. Something moved far above, and she glanced up in time to see a dark shape flash across the pale face of the moon. A bird? At night?

She glanced back to the carriage to see it pulling away into the night. A single figure stood, his bag in one hand. He glanced her way, nodded, and then turned toward the main door of the saloon. He was thin, with dark hair and eyes. It was hard to make his features out in the darkness, but somehow she saw into those eyes. They were filled with an odd, melancholy sadness. As he passed inside, it seemed as if his shadow remained, just for a moment, outlined in silvery light. Then it was gone.

Lenore shook her head, turned, and hurried to the door to her room. She fumbled the key from her jacket pocket, jammed it into the lock, and hurried inside. She had no idea why the sight of the man had unnerved her, but it had. And the bird. If she’d woken from a dream, she’d have believed she was meant to set him free…but she was very, very awake, and though her fingers itched to draw – to put his image on paper and tuck it away somewhere safe, she knew she could not. Not now – not yet. There was not much time before dawn, and she still had work to finish – and a story to hear. The stranger, if she ever returned to him, would have to wait.
She lit the oil lamp on the single table in her small room, opened the portfolio, and laid the drawing on the flat surface. There was a small stand nearby, and another bottle of wine rested there. She had two glasses, but had not known at the time why she’d asked for them. Another vision? She poured one for herself, and replaced the cork.

Moments later, there was a soft rap on the door. When she opened it, the girl stood outside, shifting nervously from one foot to the other and looking up and down the long porch as if fearing to be seen.

“Come in,” Lenore said.

The girl did so, and Lenore closed the door behind them.

“What shall I call you?” she asked, trying to set the girl at ease. Something had her spooked and it would simply not do to have the girl bolt without spilling her story.

“Anita,” the girl said shyly, glancing at Lenore. “I am Anita.”

“I’m glad to meet you,” Lenore said, “and very curious to hear what you have to say about the man you saw in the trees. I see them all the time, you know. In trees, bushes, sometimes in the water or a stone. It’s not very often that I meet another who is aware of them – even less often that I have a chance to hear their stories.”

“It is not a good story,” Anita said. “He was a very bad man.”

Lenore smiled again. “He’s not a man any longer, dear, so there is nothing to fear in the telling. Would you like a glass of wine?”
The girl nodded. Lenore poured a second glass from her bottle and handed it over. “Sit down,” she said. “I still have work to do, and I can work as you talk. It will relax me.”

“I will tell you,” Anita said, perching lightly on the corner of the bed, “but it will not relax you.”

“Then it will keep me awake,” Lenore said, seating herself at her desk. “Yo see, I don’t just see those who are trapped, I have to undo whatever it is that has them trapped. I won’t be finished until I’ve freed them all.”

The girl glanced sharply over, nearly spilling her drink. 

“Maybe…maybe it is best if this one stays.”

Lenore pulled out her pencils, and a gum eraser.

“We’ll leave him for now,” she said. “There are four others, and I can only work on one at a time. Tell me your story.”

Anita took a sip of her wine, and nodded. “His name is Abraham Thigpen. He died about a year ago but I remember it like today…”

Lenore listened, and worked, rearranging branches, shifting the wood slightly, picking the strong woman’s face to release from the pattern first. Anita’s voice droned in the background – and she faded into the story, letting it draw her back across the years as she carefully disassembled her drawing, working the faces free.


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8 Comments

Reply Mary Preston
8:05 AM on July 24, 2013 
NEVERMORE looks fantastic. I haven't read any Dark Fantasy before.
Reply David Niall Wilson
9:05 AM on July 24, 2013 
I hope you'll give it a shot, Mary... I really enjoyed writing this one.
Reply Hywela Lyn
11:37 AM on July 24, 2013 
Hi Mary - thanks for stopping by and commenting - dark fantasy is a wonderful genre, I love it!
Reply Hywela Lyn
11:37 AM on July 24, 2013 
Hi David, I've just bought 'Nevermore' and am really looking forward to reading it!
Reply David Niall Wilson
2:00 PM on July 24, 2013 
hywelalyn says...
Hi David, I've just bought 'Nevermore' and am really looking forward to reading it!


Well, I hope you love it. If you do - or hate it - or have any thoughts, hope you'll leave me a [email protected]
Reply Hywela Lyn
5:01 PM on July 24, 2013 
David Niall Wilson says...
I'm sure I will, David, and yes I'll be glad to leave a revciew - may take a while though as I not only have a long list of books TBR list and need to finish writing the third book in my own trilogy - but I have a feeling 'Evermore' will be pushed nearer the top of the queue :)
Well, I hope you love it. If you do - or hate it - or have any thoughts, hope you'll leave me a [email protected]
Reply Joanna (Lazuli Portals)
4:26 AM on September 11, 2013 
Fascinating interview, Lyn and David, and a new (to me) author to check out (oh, my poor TBR pile!)
I agree, if writing lacks heart, it is not worth reading. Or, perhaps, even writing . . . thank heavens for authors with integrity!
Reply Hywela Lyn
5:14 PM on September 18, 2013 
Joanna (Lazuli Portals) says...
Fascinating interview, Lyn and David, and a new (to me) author to check out (oh, my poor TBR pile!)
I agree, if writing lacks heart, it is not worth reading. Or, perhaps, even writing . . . thank heavens for authors with integrity!


Thanks for visiting, Joanna, so glad you enjoyed the interview!