Wrath James White
by Erik Smith
Photo: Wrath James White
Wrath James White is the author of
Resurrectionist and takes a moment to chat with Erik Smith about his latest
ES: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I know
that Rhonda Wilson spoke to you when your first mass market paperback,
Succulent Prey, was released, so I just have a few questions about your new
book and some upcoming projects.
Can you tell us a little bit about the story of your new Leisure book, The
WJW: The Resurrectionist is about a man named Dale McCarthy who has the
ability to bring people back from the dead with no recollection of their deaths
or the events that immediately preceded their deaths. Dale could use this
ability for good however Dale is a bit twisted. He moves in across the street
from a beautiful woman named Sarah Lincoln and her husband Josh and immediately
becomes obsessed with her. Night after night Sarah dreams that she and her
husband have been assaulted and murdered and every night she awakens to find
evidence that maybe it was more than just a dream, bloody sheets in the laundry,
a blood soaked mattress, clean spots on the carpet as if it had been recently
cleaned. As her suspicions grow she becomes convinced that her dreams are real
and that she must find a way to prevent herself from being murdered again.
ES: I thought that The Resurrectionist was one of the most original
novels I have read in quite some time. What was the genesis of the story?
WJW: Most of my stories come from arguments and this one was no exception. Would
God give great power to someone who was evil? Well, there are parents who are
completely reprehensible and yet they have children over which they have near
limitless power. Look at how many children we have seen lately who have been
murdered by their parents? There is the recent case of a child whose mother was
prostituting her who was raped and murdered by a man who had paid her mother for
her services. If you believe in God, which I do not, then you have to believe
that he is not terribly discriminating when it comes to who he chooses to give
power to. That led me to thinking about what would happen if God were to give
someone the type of power that he gave Jesus. John 14:12 "Verily, verily, I say
unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and
greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." Well, what
if that were true and someone did come to posess these powers? I concentrated on
the power to resurrect the dead because it lent itself most readily to horror.
Religion is an excellent source for horror, an almost endless well.
I also wanted to write a strong female character so I reversed the traditional
roles in the novel and made the big, strong, man in the relationship the weaker
one emotionally. I put the burden for holding everything together on Sarah
because I thought that would create an interesting dynamic and create some truly
ES: You asked, on a few forums, for reader reactions to the end of the novel.
Without giving anything away, were you concerned about the reception the ending
WJW: Not really. It was one of those things where I felt that I had nailed
it and my proofreaders loved it. You can never please everybody so I knew there
would be some people who wouldn't like it but so far the only person who has
contacted me to say they didn't like it, didn't get it.
ES: Teratologist, Poisoning Eros, Orgy Of Souls and Hero are
all collaborations (With Edward Lee, Monica J. O'Rourke, Maurice Broaddus, and
J.F. Gonzalez, respectively). Do you use the same system with everyone, or does
each collaboration have its own style?
WJW: I pretty much do them all the same way. We alternate writing between
2,000 and 5,000 words before passing it back and we allow each other the freedom
to edit and even alter the other person's work. Sometimes I'll read a part that
my collaborator wrote or he or she will read something that I wrote and rather
than continue where the other person left off we'll decide it needs something
else before it or right dead in the center and we'll just start writing right
there in the middle of what the other person wrote. It helps to make things flow
a lot more seamlessly than if it was just, "You write your part and I'll write
my part." That's why it's so hard with most of my collaborations to tell who
ES: Are there any authors you would like to work with in the future?
WJW: Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge, Brian Keene, and maybe someone really sexy
that I can write something erotic with. I always wanted to collaborate with a
woman I was attracted to on a piece of erotica. I think that would be incredibly
hot. I'd probably have a hard time maintaining boundaries though so I'll have to
wait until my wife starts writing.
ES: You have quite a few books coming out in the near future, Yaccub's
Curse, Everyone Dies Famous In A Small Town, The Reaper, all of which I look
forward to. But the one I find most intriguing is Vicious Romantic. If
you could, please tell us about the book and why you chose this form to work in.
WJW: Vicious Romantic is a collection of horror poetry written in
traditional Japanese and Korean poetic structures, namely the haiku, tanka,
choka, and the sijo. I chose these forms becasue they are so rigid and
disciplined, five or seven syllables per line or ,in the case of the sijo, 15 to
17 syllables per line. It is hard enough to choose the right words to say what
you want to say but now you have to make sure you also use the precise amount of
syllables. It makes it more of a challenge and challenging myself is sort of
what I do. Life would be boring without challenges.
Why write poetry at all? Because I love poetry. I always have. I think I wrote
my first poem in 4th grade and it was the first time I was really recognized for
my writing ability. I was asked to read it in front of the entire school in an
assembly program. It was a horror poem about the Easter Bunny called The Easter
Fright. But I didn't really become a poet until after my first heartbreak.
That's when I started writing those heavy angst-ridden poems that most people
think of when they imagine poets. After getting shot down in my first attempt to
sell a horror story I wrote nothing but poetry for almost 13 years before I
started writing horror again. I have always had the heart of a poet.
ES: Thank you, again, for speaking with us. Any last words?
WJW: Thanks to everyone who has read The Resurrectionist so far. I
appreciate all the great comments I've been hearing from you about it. I look
forward to hearing what everyone thinks of Yaccub's Curse. That's another
book where I went out on a limb and did something very different from my other
work. I'm eager to hear readers' responses to it. And thank you, Erik. This was
with Wrath James White
By Rhonda Wilson
Wrath James White is the author of the novel
SUCCULENT PREY, the novella HIS PAIN, and co-author of the novellas HERO and
ORGY OF SOULS.
RW: Wrath, thanks for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to do this
WJW: No problem at all. Thanks for your interest in my work
WJW: I'm sure most people have heard this story a few
times. I started writing horror back in High School. I submitted a story to a
magazine called Night Cry when I was 17 and received a rather mean-spirited
rejection. I didn't try to submit anything else for more than ten years. During
that time I wrote poetry and did spoken word performance art. When my ex-wife
was pregnant with my son, I decided that I needed to do something that he could
be proud of so I started writing my first novel. I also started fighting
professionally. I have rewritten that first novel probably a dozen times. I just
rewrote it again last year and it is being published this summer by Necro.
RW: Can you please tell our readers a little about yourself and how you got
your start in the writing industry?
WJW: Working full time, training fighters, and being a
husband and father sort of makes finding the time to write rather difficult. I
have to write when and where I get the chance which often means while the TV is
on, kids are screaming, and the wife is interrupting me constantly to make small
talk. At this point, I could probably write in the middle of a fire fight. The
only hard and fast rule I have is 850 words a day. I settled on 850 words
because that's almost exactly the number of words that I can write in one
uninterrupted hour which means that's how many words I can write in two hours
filled with frequent interruptions. I can write 850 words after work and the gym
and still have time to cook dinner and watch my favorite shows on TV.
RW: What kind of atmosphere do you set for yourself to write in and do you
have a set schedule that you make for yourself to abide by when writing?
WJW: I stick to one writing project until it's
complete. When I get other ideas I just write the first chapter and save it
somewhere until I get the chance to finish it. I usually have two or three first
chapters of unfinished stories saved on my computer. Lately, I have been
recording ideas on a digital recorder to use later. That has been working great
so far. If a great line of prose or dialogue comes to me I'll quickly record
that on my digital recorder before I forget it so i can use it later.
RW: Do you work on multiple writing projects at one time or tend to stick
one out until it's finished before moving onto the next project?
WJW: I actually think that the novella is the perfect
form for horror. It is just the right length to build suspense and fully develop
the characters to a degree that the short story will not allow while keeping
that page-turning pace of a shorter piece. It allows you to just tell the story
without all the fluff. When I write a novel it has to be a really big idea,
something that I couldn't possibly write as a novella. I'm not one of those
writers who can take any idea and blow it up into 85,000 words. There have been
some novellas that I've written, however, that could have easily been written as
novels. His Pain will probably become a novel at some point.
RW: Having written both novellas and novels, do you have a preference of
one type of writing style over the other? Also, do you find one easier to
write than the other?
RW: Who have been your writing inspirations over the years?
WJW: That's a long list. I would say that guys like Stephen King and Robert R.
McCammon were big inspirations back in high school but when I started writing
again in the nineties it was writers like Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gore Vidal, Herman
Hesse, Albert Camus, Comte de Lautremonte, and to some degree The Marquis de
Sade who inspired me. I love language and passion, the beauty of words and the
complexity and intensity of emotion. Those heavy angst-ridden European writers
really struck a chord with me.
WJW: Succulent Prey is the story of a man named Joseph
Miles who was attacked by a serial child murderer when he was young. He was the
only one of the killer's victim that escaped alive. As an adult he began having
violent sexual fantasies that eventually evolved or devolved perhaps into the
intense desire to consume human flesh in order to achieve sexual release. He
theorizes that the man who attacked him as a child passed a disease on to him
that is slowly turning him into a serial killer. He further theories that this
is perhaps the same disease that inspired the werewolf and vampire myths and so
he looks to those myths for a cure. He decides that in order to free himself of
his curse he has to hunt down and kill the man who infected him with this virus
before he kills the only woman he has ever loved, the woman who is strapped to a
bed in his apartment.
RW: Please tell us a little bit about the storyline for your first mass
market release, SUCCULENT PREY, that came out last winter.
WJW: Honestly? I used to struggle with sex addiction
and so I wanted to do a story about addictions to sort of write it out of my
system. In Succulent Prey I used bloodlust as a not-so-subtle metaphor for sex
addiction. I wanted to write a story about what it felt to be physically and
emotionally consumed by a desire so strong that it pervaded your every thought
and colored the way you looked at people. When Joseph Miles looked at people all
he saw was flesh to be consumed, potential victims, the same way a sex addict
looks at people and sees only potential sex partners. His attempts to maintain
his humanity while at the same time wanting nothing more than to indulge his
desires mirror my own struggles with fidelity when I was at the height of my
wanton lasciviousness. I'm much better now.
RW: This seems like a bit of an extreme topic, where did you come up with
the story idea for SUCCULENT PREY?
WJW: Nope. Okay, Hero, my novella co-written
with J.F. Gonzalez has much less gore. The Reaper, my upcoming novella
from Cargo Cult Press about the pilot of an unnamed aerial assault vehicle who
is suffering from PTSD has very little gore in it at all. But honestly, I like
gore. I think it's synonymous with horror. I don't like it to the exclusion of
tension, atmosphere, and suspense but I can't read a book that has just suspense
and atmosphere and no violence of any kind that purports to be a horror novel
without feeling cheated. If we're talking about a mystery or a thriller or
something I'm perfectly content to read a well-written story without the
slightest hint of gore in it but when I hear horror I have the expectation
of blood and guts. That's just my personal bias though. I'm not one of those
elitists who presume to tell others what is or is not horror or what they should
or should not like. I think people like that are assholes. I just personally
don't enjoy PG-13 "Quiet" horror though many others obviously do. I can only
write what I enjoy reading and I like sex and gore in my horror but even then it
has to be well-written. Blood and titties alone don't make a good book.
RW: Having read SUCCULENT PREY, I am aware that the content included may
not be for all audiences due to the high gore content at some points in the
book. Do you have any other books released or coming out that might be
"tamer" for those readers that want to try your writing, but can't handle
WJW: I have just completed my latest Leisure novel
scheduled for release in December of this year. It is titled The
Resurrectionist and is about a serial killer who can bring people back from
the dead. It will be coming out first as a limited edition hardback from Cargo
Cult Press. My novella about a drone pilot with post traumatic stress disorder, The
Reaper will also be out early next year from Cargo Cult. My novel of race,
religion, crime, and extreme horror, Yaccub, will be out this summer
from Necro Books. Everyone Dies Famous In A Small Town, my novel about
life in a twisted little small town in the Eastern Sierras will be released by
Thunderstorm Books next year as well. This one will be as close to Bizarro
fiction as I get. The sequel to Poisoning Eros will be out in 2010 from
Side Show Press complete with illustrations from Tom Moran. Other than that, I'm
just goofing off doing nothing.
RW: What upcoming projects are you working on that our readers and
librarians can keep a look out for?
Where is the best place online for people to keep informed of any updates on
Wrath James White?
RW: Thanks again for taking the time to let me interview you.
WJW: Always a pleasure.