David Niall Wilson Talks Crossroad Press and More
DC: You’ve written a number of books (Deep Blue, The Mote In Andreas’s Eye, Maelstrom, Vintage Soul, The Grail’s Covenant Trilogy and Stargate Atlantis: Brimstone to name a few) and screenplays (Killer Green, Redneck Dragon, and The Milk Of Paradise). Is the writing of one more difficult that the writing of the other?
DNW: I'm not really sure. It's very much like my answer about genre – sometimes I see a movie in my head, and sometimes I see a book. Other times they interchange. One project of mine started long ago as a short story about a priest who experienced The Stigmata. ON THE THIRD DAY was published in my first fiction collection, but the story wouldn't let me go. Eventually I thought it might make a good project for learning how to write a screenplay, so I pulled it out and tried writing it as a feature film. The problem was, it was too short. It sat that way a long time, and then, in a period when I was doing a lot of screenwriting, I pulled it out and lengthened it with a lot of new material. Once again that story grabbed me, and the next thing I knew I was writing it as a novel. It's currently out as an eBook… I like screenwriting. I tend to lean toward dark humor more than other genres when I am in that mode, and it's very liberating for me to just let go and work on something that I have no idea what I'm going to do with. That's how the screenwriting is for me.
My first feature, written from an outline provided to me by producer/director/actress Roasanna Jeran of Blurgirl Productions, was GODHEAD. It was produced, but it took seven years from the time I wrote the first script to the time I saw the digital final. It's a very strange film in which I may have broken some record for use of the word fuck…it's the alchemical process in film, told by the dual characters Magus and Zero…there is alchemy, a Beau Gestesque Viking funeral, a peep hole in the floor…but there is no Oscar, obviously. It is what it is…a very artsy feature put together by a filmmaker who – up to that point – worked mostly in shorter length art film. Since then, though I have been optioned, nothing I've written has made it to the silver screen. I still have great hope for KILLER GREEN, and the more recent REDNECK DRAGON – but for me it's a secondary thing. I know I can sell stories and novels, and while they take a bit longer to complete, they are my comfort zone. On the other hand, it takes a lot less time to finish a screenplay, and the format is very simple and direct. I like working in both worlds, and hope to have plenty of opportunities to do so.
DC: Your novel, This Is My Blood, contains a fictional gospel of Judas Iscariot. In it, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a fallen angel who is cursed with a form of vampirism and Judas is portrayed as being the best of the apostles and the only one who fully understands Christ's teachings. He even lays down his own life for the salvation of all. Was it uncomfortable or weird for you when the translated coptic codex that was said to be written by to Judas Iscariot was released?
DNW: I found that whole thing hilarious, to be honest. I wrote my novel and my fictional book of Judas many years before that came to light, but the parallels were astonishing. My agent and I tried for a short period to point out the similarities just to see if I could get a burst of marketing out of it, though that never really happened. It didn't really feel any way at all, though. My version was sort of my literary reaction to those early years I mentioned studying for the ministry, and the things I came to realize about organized religion along the way. The most important concept I address in THIS IS MY BLOOD is that of Mary Magdalene's perspective. In my novel, she is a fallen angel. She does not require faith to sustain her – she knows full well there is a Heaven, and a Hell – has walked the streets of both. She is disgusted with the weakness of the apostles, and their dishonesty. I find it odd myself that an entire religion has been built on the backs of those men who – even while their savior walked at their sides and performed miracles – could only worry over whether they'd be harmed, or fight over who would be in charge once Jesus was gone. Man is like that – always has been, and likely always will be. With Mary looking in from the outside, I was able to observe from a distance and concentrate on pointing out the flaws.
DC: I am not someone who really “gets” poetry. Can you talk a bit about what I’m missing and why you write it?
DNW: I like things to be distilled. I like whiskey, and I like poetry, and I suppose it's why I like the idea of alchemy – boiling the world and the man away until only the purest essence remains. If a novel is like a movie, a short story is sort of a slide show, and a poetry is a still shot. You can encompass a lot in a single photograph, but you have to do it with artistry. You have to use just the images available in that one instant to create a reaction in those who view the shot. Most photographs are just photographs – some are absolutely inspiring. It's the same with poetry. You have a very few words to create an impression – or an image – or a story. You have only the bare-bones of the language, but it's not the important parts that are cut away – it's the detritus. Most poetry is crap. Poetry as an occupation is a thing of the distant past. That doesn’t mean good poetry has left us – it just means that it has become something you do for the sake of doing it…not for reward, or adulation – though some still seem to believe it works that way. Musical lyrics are poetry, and among the most powerful left to us. We lack an outlet in our society for spoken poetry, and to read it is just not popular or cool…not in the way it once was. I have written a lot of flash fiction, and it's similar in nature. You are after emotion and reaction. You want to bring something to life, but do so with as small a catalyst as you can provide, while investing as much emotion as possible. It isn't easy. It's much, much harder to write a poem that will stick with people than it is to write a story, or a screenplay. It's the difficulty that brings the magic. I doubt this answer has been much help at all…and I will end it by simply saying that, like most of my writing, I write poetry because it comes to me. I write down what inspires me in the moment. Sometimes it's a poem.