Detroit’s eastside has seen its share of horrors. Once-proud factories gutted for scrap. Whole neighborhoods burned out and boarded up. Nature drained of color. But nothing like this: a thought-virus that turns the city’s dogs feral and its underclass into jackal-headed beasts.
The city erupts in chaos and nightmare violence. Communication in or out is impossible. The skies fill with lethal drone copters and airships bristling with heavy-duty cannon. Abandoned to their separate fates among hordes of monsters, the few surviving humans must find a way to elude the military blockade preventing their escape or to defeat the virus at its source—before government forces sacrifice them all.
Breakneck action, rogue science and deft portraiture combine for a grand and gripping tale of urban terror.
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon, a once-small town about 14 miles west of Portland. After graduating high school, I attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. I went on to earn another master’s degree at the University of Oregon, this time in Public Affairs, with a concentration in social and political research. I’ve spent the better part of the last 23 years in commercial market research helping companies develop new products and winning marketing campaigns. I’m the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. I currently live in Hillsboro with my wife of twenty-five years and a schizophrenic rescue cat. Our two boys attend college out-of-state.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I wrote my first ‘book’ in the third grade. It was about a grasshopper with the power to channel electricity through its antennae—basically, an insect precursor to Surge from Marvel’s New Mutants. My teacher helped me send the manuscript to a book publisher I selected from an old copy of the Writer’s Market I’d found in the school library. Unfortunately, the publisher turned out to specialize in sports books. But I never stopped writing.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Curiously enough, my favorite authors are largely writers of mainstream literature rather than horror fiction. I consider Saul Bellow the greatest writer of the 20th century. I’m currently reading Zachary Leader’s detailed biography, The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915 – 1964. I have a considerably different style than Bellow, but I’ve tried to emulate his uncanny talent for crystallizing a character’s personality in a line or two, and for bold, invigorating narrative voices.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
I tend to think and work best in the early morning, so I try to get in an hour or two prior to work against a goal of 500 words per day. I usually spend time with my wife in the evenings, but if she’s busy with her own work, I’ll take some time to edit that day’s output or add to it. Weekends are when I make my greatest strides. I usually write between 1,500 and 3,000 words each weekend day. I take the occasional day off, but only if compelled by unusual circumstances. I consider writing a craft that calls for sticking to a set schedule.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel, Nightscape: Cynopolis?
The premise was suggested by a 2012 Rolling Stone article on Detroit’s stray dog epidemic. The article profiled a no-kill dog rescue operation, Detroit Dog Rescue. I was sufficiently intrigued by the group’s mission and the potential to treat the epidemic both literally and metaphorically to develop a story around it. As part of my research, I spent about a week with Detroit Dog Rescue in the fall of 2012 to learn first-hand what it’s like in the field. The founder (and accomplished rapper) Daniel “Hush” Carlisle was very generous in allowing me full access to the organization’s operations. The incidents early in the book involving stray dogs come mainly from my experiences with the group.
6) What do you think sets your horror novel apart from others on the shelves?
Nightscape: Cynopolis is no standard tale of urban survival. It involves jackal-headed monsters, ancient alien visitations, street gangs, Hegelian dialectics, Tom Clancy-style military action, psychic warfare, Afrocentric politics, phantom soldiers, doomsday cults and more—all rendered in a uniquely compelling literary style. The Midwest Book Review called it ‘urban horror at its best… a rollicking fantasy/thriller.’
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
I don’t have a favorite character per se, but the one that probably comes closest to mirroring my life philosophy is Officer Reidel Swain. At the risk of sounding immodest, his sense of purpose and willingness to suffer for it are reminiscent of my mindset when I served as a state representative. His story takes a considerably darker turn than mine, but his understanding of the world is similar.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
I had the most fun writing the final action sequence. It’s a continuous thirty-plus page scene in which a number of alternating points-of-view are connected to form a powerful whole. The way the scene was structured allowed me to employ a variety of narrative tricks. I was able to describe the beginning of a particular development in one snippet, say, the destruction of a military blimp, and then show its effects in another. I think it’s a fairly unusual approach that, at the same time, ramped up the urgency of the action.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
The last couple of paragraphs contain a surprising reveal and a moral made more poignant by recent cases of police brutality against African American men. I’m reluctant to spell out the moral for fear of spoiling the identity of the messenger, but suffice it to say, it’s a literary take on the New Testament’s Golden Rule.
11) What are your hopes for this novel?
My hopes are modest—to entertain a growing number of readers. I’m developing the Nightscape series with the long-term in mind. According to my current plans, the series will consist of more than twenty books, plus assorted other media releases. My interest is in creating a series that stands the test of time and rewards re-reading (or re-watching, or re-listening, as the case may be). All entries in the series will be designed to work as standalones, but the more Nightscape releases fans experience, the deeper their enjoyment will be. I’ve barely hinted at the overarching story arc to date.
12) What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently editing the first in a new series of books, Nightscape Double Feature No. 1. The book consists of two pulp-style novels and will be published in a tête–bêche or dual-cover format like the old Ace Doubles. The first novel, The Thousand-Eyed Fear, is set near the end of World War One. It’s about a ragtag group of teen soldiers tasked with infiltrating a secret German base that harbors a terrible supernatural threat. The second novel, The Blood Canvas, is a pre-World War Two murder-mystery featuring a female French detective who uses surrealist art techniques to uncover clues. Credit goes to genre veterans Derrick Ferguson and Sean Taylor for their exceptional work on these stories. The book has a February 2016 pub date.
Following that, I plan to issue a Nightscape concept album in the vein of Rush and Black Sabbath, along with another novel, Nightscape: Among the Unsaved. The latter is a two-part giallo or supernatural murder-mystery. The first part is like a demonic version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as written by Dosteyevsky and the second is a crazy mash-up of Cormac McCarthy and the B-movie Pumpkinhead.
I try to challenge myself with each Nightscape release, not only to further my craft, but to keep things interesting for fans.
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David W. Edwards is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Nightscape and author of the novels Nightscape: The Dreams of Devils and Nightscape: Cynopolis. He attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. He’s the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his family.
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