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Interview with W.D. Gagliani







I would like to welcome author WD Gagliani to Cloth's Chapel. Mr. Gagliani is the author of the novels Wolf's Trap, Wolf's Gambit, Wolf's Bluff, Wolf's Edge, the forthcoming Wolf's Cut, Savage Nights, I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter (with Dave Benton, as A.G. Kent); the collections Shadowplays and Mysteries & Mayhem (also with Dave Benton); as well as numerous short stories, book reviews, and articles. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW).

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So, to begin with, Werewolves… why do we love them so much?

It's great to get a chance to talk to you, Benjamin! Thanks for hosting me at your blog.

Funny thing about werewolves: I think they're still not loved enough! They've been coming into their own, though. When I started Wolf's Trap in 1993, there had mostly only been McCammon's The Wolf's Hour, which was a huge influence on me, and Brandner's The Howling. Wolfen, which isn't really werewolves. Maybe a couple more novels, but not much of a movement. Vampires were – and still are – the hottest "monsters." Somehow the zombie came along fast and took the number two spot. I'm seeing werewolves finally get noticed now that paranormal romance has realized how sexy and hunky the werewolf men can be. And, of course, women wolves too! MTV's been "stealing my ideas" with certain aspects of their Teen Wolf reboot (not really stealing, but you know what I mean, sometimes it feels like that) – because a lot of my Nick Lupo flashbacks center around his high school days and his angst, not fitting in and being an outsider, both before and after becoming a "monster" (as he sees it). Of course, MTV's take includes a fair amount of humor, and I haven't been doing that – trying to focus seriously on Nick trying to right some wrongs… but not always remaining innocent himself in the process. Keeping that sense of his tragic character from the original Universal Wolfman movies.

I  think they're kind of "lovable" because they are so representative of  us, our tendency to be two-faced and wear masks, to have a hidden dark side, to hide a certain innate cruelty, to lose control. I've always seen the connection to puberty, when our bodies betray us as the "Creature" takes over, but I've often felt the creature within can also explain the tendency for humans to do evil. It's as simple as losing one's temper, as extreme as committing genocide. Not that people are literally werewolves, but that we harbor this "monster" inside who sometimes takes control and acts out. A more primal side. Sometimes a tragic side of our character that gets us into trouble.

Does all that make werewolves lovable? Well, set aside the hunky guys and at least it makes them intriguing in a way that's different from what makes the other monsters compelling. I like to use my novels to make some points about bad behavior in general. But I want them to be fun to read, too.

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If you had the chance to meet your character Nick Lupo, in the flesh, what do you imagine the conversation would be like?

Ironically a real Nick Lupo stumbled on my books and later found me, in real life! LOL, we've never met, but he has an interesting life story with some parallels to my fictional. That old cliché about truth being stranger than fiction holds up surprisingly often. But if I met my protagonist Nick it'd be a little like staring into a mirror, because he's me in a lot of ways. A little anti-social, a little dark (cynical, at least), definitely conflicted. Our childhoods are similar, though mine isn't anywhere as angst-ridden as his. My father was on the stern side, but not to the extent of Lupo's. We have the same taste in music (progressive rock, mostly) and see it symbolically in a way that makes punk fans cringe, but we are what we are. For me, literature and lyrics always have multiple meanings. I've tried to explore some of these elements, but using the so-called "genre" context probably invites scorn. It's not serious enough. But I don't care, escapism is great, and if it can make a point, all the better! I think my version of Lupo would understand the dark thoughts, questions, doubts, and regrets that make up a lot of my psyche. The fact that I'm able to explore them on the page is probably cathartic and therapeutic. On the other hand, Lupo is nothing like me, because in his character arc he's in the process of letting his baser instincts take control of his life, whereas I don't feel much danger of that because his base instincts are exponentially darker than mine. But I believe most of our characters reflect their creators in some aspect, and Lupo is an alter ego of mine. However, the mirror image is a distorted one, not sharp and accurate.

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Your website biography mentions you have an interest in exotic weapons. Of which type are you most interested? Is there something in particular you wish to get your hands on someday?

Well, "exotic" is probably a relative term. For example, I have a blowgun, throwing stars, weighted gloves, various stealthy blades.. that kind of thing is what I mean by exotic. I think if I had unlimited funds I would collect more military firearms, mostly WW1 and WW2 vintage, and I'd want more swords. I don't have a katana, for instance, and I'd like a good replica. I'm not one who practices their use, though, so I'm not a swordsman. I am a halfway decent marksman, however. (Okay, better than halfway decent!)

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What’s your favorite part of the novel writing process?

Finishing… LOL, and seeing the book in my hand.

Seriously, I find the discipline tough. I've had to learn a lot of discipline since being able to sell books. I was shocked and unprepared when Leisure wanted a follow-up to Wolf's Trap, and I had to relearn how to write a novel, because Trap had taken nearly a decade. I started to pare down the process to months, but it's hard with a day job and other responsibilities. I do enjoy thinking out the basic story line of the plot, and then flying by the seat of the pants for a bit, just letting the story happen. Of course, flying blind can be quite a problem, because it leads to having to make a lot of later adjustments. But I do believe if your characters are surprised, then your readers will be, too, and so it helps to keep gaps in the outline where things can happen you didn't plan ahead, and that characters themselves demand. That's a favorite part of the process, finding that a character has directed his or her own next action, or that an event I never considered is suddenly happening on the page, surprising me. As long as I think it's believable within the story logic, I let it happen. I also like when the story flows logically from my imagination. Sometimes it refuses to do that, and then it has to be beaten into submission.

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Ok, and now what’s your least favorite part of the process?

Starting. I'm a procrastinator. I keep throwing obstacles in my own path. But I think it's an essential part of the process. I've come to think all those diversions and digressions, besides representing undiagnosed Attention Deficit, are probably helping me think through the plot, perhaps subconsciously. It could be I'm not ready to start until I'm really ready, you know. Once I'm going, then the necessary parts of the story show up when needed. Also, I tend to leapfrog over blocked parts, where I'm short of ideas, instead writing scenes that come later but happen to be flowing more easily. Problem is often I'll have to adjust both ends because they'll need a better transition than I had originally. I keep saying I'll write the next one in a more linear fashion, but so far I never have.

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What new projects are on the horizon?

I'm still finishing a long overdue Lupo novella (Wolf's Deal), working slowly on a shared-world zombie novel with Dave Benton and John Everson that's taking longer than we expected, working on a new Lupo novel I sold to Samhain (Wolf's Cut), and hashing out a few shorter story and novella projects in various stages of completion. With my collaborator Dave Benton, we recently self-published a splatterpunk story we sold to a UK magazine ("Love at First Sting"), and we're also working on a second A.G. Kent middle grade novel after I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter. Of course some of our collaborations are available in a mini collection, Mysteries & Mayhem. I need a wide horizon for all these projects.

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Thanks a million for the interview!

And thank you for the great questions and for letting me ramble. And for hosting me on your blog!

WD Gagliani
June 2012

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Contact:
www.wdgagliani.com  (includes Lupo's World blog)

Twitter: @WDGagliani

Mysteries & Mayhem blog (w/Dave Benton): http://moodelevator.wordpress.com/

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