STILL DARK: An Interview with DW Gillespie

Halloween is almost here and that means horror is at its apex! Speaking of apex, D.W. Gillespie's new book released earlier this month from Sirens Call Publications, and has a very interesting monster lurking in the Smoky Mountains...

- The Interview - 

SG -  I'll get the tough question out of the way. The monster in your book is called Apex and uses one's fears against them. How is this different from Stephen King's iconic clown and what influences did you pull from?

DWG - You know, it's funny, but that hasn't even come up before, even though you do make a good point. In blurb form, it might sound remarkably similar. In the context of the book, Apex is very different from Pennywise. Apex has much more of sci-fi inspiration to him, but not in a Lovecraftian, unknowable sort of way. By the end of the book there really aren't any questions as to what he is. 

As far as influences, I don't want to give too much of away because there's a bit of a mystery to the story and specific examples might spoil things. I'll just say this...within the first 30 pages or so, you'll think you know what's going on, but you really don't.

SG -  What can you tell us about Apex?

DWG - Apex has the ability to see into people's minds and use that against them. He can't shapeshift or anything like that, so he has to be creative about how he uses that ability. In one of my favorite scenes, he looks into the mind of Laura, one of the main characters in the novel, and he sees her deep hatred for her elderly, abusive father. I won't spoil how he uses that information against her, but it makes for a tense, deeply disturbing scene.

SG -  You live in Tennessee and set the book in the Smoky Mountains, what is it about this setting that drew you to write about it?

DWG - It's a beautiful area, and it just fit the story perfectly. Anyone that's ever been to Gatlinburg knows how picturesque the mountains are. Originally, Still Dark grew out of a single dream I had, this weird, impossible vision of a crocodile swimming under a frozen lake. I woke up, jotted it down, and the next day, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I've been to the mountains a lot throughout my life, but only once while it was snowing. It stuck with me though, and once the actual story started to form around that dream, I knew it had to be in that area.

SG -  Favorite scenes you can talk about?

DWG - The aforementioned croc under ice is a good one, just because it's so implausible and weird. At that point in the early parts of the book, you're just thinking, "How the hell can any of this make sense?"

A bit later, a similar scene takes place in a massive indoor aquarium. Picture this: a giant, darkened room, no electricity, the sound of lapping water, the smell of blood, and over everything, the distance screams from dying people. Among the many horrors in that scene, one of my favorites is the giant squid peering out from the red water. I love that scene so much, I knew it had to make the cover.

SG -  How long have you been writing and what do you love about horror fiction?

DWG - Longer than I'd like to admit. Actually, there's a few answers. I have school projects from 3rd grade about me shooting Frankenstein with a shotgun, which technically counts as horror. The better answer is since around 2002. That was when I took a creative writing class and realized I had at least a little something to work with. The past 6 years or so have been the best. That was around the time I took a good long look at what I was doing and realized I just wasn't putting my all into it. Since then, I've had one small little success after another.

As for horror, well, it just comes naturally for some reason. I can't quite explain why, but that's where my mind drifts. I do have some other novels waiting in the wings, including a full blown sci-fi and even a dark fantasy. I imagine I'll be branching out some, but it will almost all have that dark edge to it. People always look at horror writers and think they must be sickos to dream up all that nastiness. I just think it's healthy to have a connection to the slightly darker side of life. I'm honestly one of the most normal, boring people I know. Maybe all that horror helps keep me grounded.

SG -  Best piece of writing advice you've learned so far?

DWG - Resilience. Tenacity. Whatever you want to call it. The ability to get told no a thousand times and still press on. At this point in my career, that's probably been more valuable than all the How To blogs I've ever read.  

From the cover:


When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…

Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.

Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!


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