Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pick Six with David Herter

[A special Halloween edition of "Pick Six with__," including a bonus question since it's Mr. Herter's birthday today.]

A graduate of the 1990 Clarion West Workshop, David Herter is the author of Ceres Storm, Evening's Empire, On the Overgrown Path, The Luminous Depths, and One Who DisappearedHis 2010 novel October Dark (part of Earthling's Halloween Series) has recently been revised (expanded with new scenes and tightened by some 20,000 words) and released as a Kindle ebook.  You can check out the book's trailer here.

1.If you could collaborate with any living writer, who would you choose, and why?

Well, since it's Halloween, how about a departed one--Catherine Lucille Moore? Which I guess makes me Henry Kuttner.  Working in tandem as they did, it would be a giddy pleasure to sit down at the typewriter just after she'd finished her portion in the midst of  a sentence, then carry forward a masterpiece like "Clash by Night" so that the heating bills could be paid.

2.What is the best book you have read in the past year?

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers.  Best. Vampire.  Book.  Ever.

3.What is the best writing advice you ever received?

"If you can't make it good, make it short."--Gene Wolfe

4.Which person in your life has had the biggest influence on your writing career?

Briony Travers, my mom.  She grew up in wartime Britain and Australia, was a librarian after college in Illinois, then married and became a housewife.  Throughout a life of painfully deteriorating health, books were her sustenance.  She loved mysteries most of all (Ruth Rendall, P.D. James), and biographies, but also Stephen King and Thomas Harris.  She had a subscription to Publisher's Weekly to keep apprised of the forthcoming titles.  She could quote freely from Shakespeare and Tennyson.  She knew a little something about everything.

5.What did you enjoy most about writing your last book?

My latest is a revision of my 2010 novel October Dark for ebook release.  I enjoyed finally achieving the book I set out to write--sharpening the plot, weeding out the excessive nostalgia, darkening the horror.  I also enjoyed delving more into the "lost film," Dark Carnival, that haunts the book.  In our world it's a movie that Ray Bradbury tried and failed to make, eventually becoming the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.  In my book the film was made but quickly vanished from sight, holding in its frames an optical curse against an undying Phantasmagoria magician and his dead love, a witch.  The movie is a chess-piece in a decades-long battle between the magician and special effects pioneer Willis O'Brien.  All hell breaks loose on Halloween, 1977.

6.What are you working on now?

The Cold Heavens.  An epic space opera with an eschatological twist, inspired by Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore and the occult novels of the Austrian fantasist Gustav Meyrink.  I've had a great time reading/rereading all of their works, as well as delving into German Romanticism, Fin de siecle Dcadence and the Weimar era in Berlin.  The resulting 275,000 words are set on Mars, Venus, and beyond, with a sequence in the heart of the book set in Meyrink's haunted Prague.  It's the first of two books.

7.Your Mt. Rushmore of four all-time favorite writers?

Of horror writers?  It would make for an eerie skyline at dusk.  Robert Aickman, Gustav Meyrink, Shirley Jackson, and Manly Wade Wellman.

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