Friday, July 27, 2012

Feature: Author Interview with Jeffrey Wilson, author of The Donors

Hey folks! I have a special treat for y'all today. One of my favorite authors, and an all around awesome guy, Jeff Wilson, is back in the hot seat! He's discussing his newest release, The Donors, as well as some exciting news about his son's upcoming release, A Giant Pencil.

My review of The Donors can be found HERE.

So, let's get on to the fun stuff...

Author Interview
Jeffrey Wilson
The Donors

GL: Why don't you "reintroduce" yourself to the readers that might not have met you before? J

Jeff: Hi Cassie. I’m Jeff Wilson and among my various jobs, my relatively new title of Novelist is one of my favorites. My first novel The Traiteur’s Ring was released at the end of the last summer and my newest book The Donors just came out a week or so ago. In my “real” life, I work as a surgeon at times and with the U.S. Navy. My favorite title is that of Husband to my beautiful wife Wendy and Father to my three kids, Connor, Jack, and Emma. Incidentally, the most exciting thing in our family this year is the pending release of our 11-year-old Connor’s first book A Giant Pencil, which will be out on August 11th from Magic Dreams books, the children’s books imprint of Weaving Dreams Publishing in Chicago. As you can imagine, having the youngest traditionally published children’s author in our home has been very exciting for the whole family—and nerve wracking for one eleven-year-old boy!

GL: I bet it is! And, believe me, I know how proud of him you are. This is a major accomplishment… for anyone, much less someone of his age.

GL: So what have you been up to since the release of The Traiteur's Ring?

JW: Well, in addition to the working edits and revisions of The Donors ahead of its June 29th release, I have been working hard with Connor on his book release and marketing. I’ve also published a couple of short stories—“The Writer” appeared in the Warped Words 2011: 90 Minutes to live anthology and my story “Calling Home” appeared recently in the e-zine I’ve had some fun interviews, including one with my mom’s favorite blog interviewer, done a few signings. Of course there are the day jobs, family time, and oh, yeah—trying to find time to finish my newest book. Writing is a lot easier before you get published! There is a lot more work to do after you sell a book than I think I appreciated.

GL: Mom's favorite blog interviewer = ME! J

GL: Tell us a little about your books, The Traiteur's Ring and The Donors.

JW: The Traiteur’s Ring is a supernatural military thriller. It’s the story of Navy SEAL Ben Morvant, a SEAL medic whose team is operating in Africa, hunting down terrorists. Ben has a complicated past, raised deep in the Louisiana Bayou by his grandmother—a Traiteur or spiritual healer—and is certainly no stranger to the supernatural. He escaped his past and found a way to the Teams, where he is still plagued by nightmares and questions about what happened to his “Gammy.” His past collides with his present when his team encounters a primitive village and its elder, who just before his death by a terrorist bullet, passes to Ben a strange ring, and with it even stranger powers. Ben has to journey back to his past to learn how to control his new gifts—like the power to heal with a single touch or to kill with a simple thought. His journey is led by the ghost of his Gammy, who must teach him how to control the powers he will soon need. His team must return to Africa to confront a growing evil far worse than the Al Qaeda terrorists they are trained to hunt.

My time spent working downrange with the SEALs during my time on active duty obviously had a tremendous influence on this book, and I painted the characters with as realistic a brush as I could, based on those experiences. I made my characters the real life, quiet and humble men I know, rather than the action heroes usually seen in fiction.

THE DONORS is completely different, though shares some of the cross genre elements of THE TRAITEUR’S RING.  It is set in a hospital and is a supernatural medical thriller and much more of a classic horror story than my last book. The story is about five year old Nathan, who is hospitalized after injuries suffered at the hands of his mother’s abusive ex-boyfriend. While in the hospital, Nathan is haunted by horrible nightmares where he sees demons, terrifying creatures who are using the staff of the hospital to do unspeakable things. As he realizes that these are much more than just dreams, he comes to believe that he alone can see the demons for what they really are and that he must somehow stop them. His only real ally is his doctor, Jason, who shares with him not only a history of abuse, but a childhood gift of seeing the same demons that Nathan now confronts. They have to somehow stop the creatures before their own loved ones fall prey as well.

GL: What was your inspiration for The Donors?

JW: I think that hospitals are terrifying places already. Patients and families feel terribly isolated and vulnerable and they have to trust their lives to complete strangers. This makes the idea of something horrible happening in that setting all the more terrifying.

Obviously my time spent working as a surgeon had a huge influence on this book and of course, allows me to write the setting and the medical aspects with lots of realism and authority. I have been a patient and a family member as well, so I also know those other terrible feelings. The book was inspired most by an unpublished short story I wrote years ago while a Chief Surgery resident on the Trauma Service during my residency training. In the end, I couldn’t do the story justice as a short and THE DONORS was born.

GL: Has this publishing experience been any easier or more difficult than the first? Is there anything you'll do differently the third time around?

JW: Well, in most ways it has been much, much easier because The Donors is the second book of a three-book deal I have with JournalStone. There was no querying to find the book a home and I already had a great relationship with Chris Payne and knew just what to expect from the process. Unfortunately, I broke my own pattern with this book and so the editing process was much more painful. The editors had the book before I had done my second run through and proofing and so the manuscript was much more rough than the first. That made for a longer, and more painful, editing process. The end result was that, again, JournalStone’s team helped me turn a book into a terrific novel, but it was a longer process this time. It’s a mistake I won’t make with my third book, Fade to Black, which is due out in 2013. I am so grateful to Chris and his team for their patience.

GL: One of the main characters, Nathan, is a young boy who faces very grown up challenges. Other than his terrible circumstances, is Nathan very similar to your own children?

JW: I don’t know if he is similar, but there is no question being a dad, my favorite of all my many jobs by the way, makes it easier to write the point of view more realistically. My kids are now eleven, four, and three so I have some experience with the way a kid’s mind works. It is so amazing to watch how they think and see the world.

GL: Was it difficult writing a child's point of view?

JW: Yes, very challenging. I hope that I pulled it off.

GL: I think you did a pretty awesome job J

GL: Can you tell me… what ARE those lizard men? Where do they come from? How do they make you "dream" those things?

JW: Well, I have always been a big believer that the real expert of any book is the reader. That sounds like a cop out, but I truly believe that. I most certainly have my own thoughts about what they are and where they come from, but I don’t want to bias my readers as they search those answers in the pages of the book. For sure there is a classic good versus evil thing going on.

GL: If you could be any Power Ranger, which would you be? How about a Star Wars character?

JW: Well, the Red Ranger of course! Red Ranger is the best, right? I suppose if I was a Star Wars character I would probably be one of the background characters. I change careers so frequently that I could not have made it to become a Jedi. I think I may have a short attention span.

GL: Hahahaha… You should have finished that off with: "Oh, look at the little squirrel!"

GL: Where can we find some of your other stories? Which short story has been your favorite to write thus far?

JW: Oh, Jeez, that’s tough. I think for me, my favorite is always the one I’m working on right now. I am, literally, just a few days from finishing my newest book, Julian’s Numbers, and I have really enjoyed this book. I again had to write from a child's point of view, but this time the kid is around eleven, which is much less of a challenge, I think. I am particularly fond of my short story “Calling Home” as it has a lot of personal meaning to me.

Other than “Calling Home” and “The Writer,” which I mentioned earlier, most of my shorts are out of print. The work of getting out two novels in ten months, while still getting my fourth book written had proven a real challenge in terms of time, and I haven’t written many shorts the last year or two. I have a fun story called “Dolls Eyes” that I am shopping for a home for, but that’s about it right now for short stories. It’s a real shame, because I love shorts and I also find that writing them well, for me at least, is a very perishable skill compared to writing novels.

GL: I love both "Calling Home" and "The Writer" and I can't wait to read more of your shorts. I love writing short stories, maybe because I like that quicker sense of accomplishment. J

GL: You obviously have a lot on your plate and must be pulled in a hundred different directions. What do you do to keep yourself grounded?

JW: My family, no question. I love being a husband (to the best and most patient woman in the world) and a father. Spending time with my kids puts everything else in perspective for me.

GL: Have you guys taken or planned any awesome family vacations this summer?

JW: We’ve had a great summer already! We spent a week at the beach doing nothing but playing on the beach, running around on our boat, and playing board games. It was awesome. Wendy and I had four days in New York City when I was on the Debut Author’s panel at the International Thriller Writer’s “Thrillerfest” conference and had a great time. I got to sign copies of THE TRAITEUR’S RINGS with some writing giants, which was a little intimidating, and got RL Stine to sign a copy of his new Goosebumps book for Connor, who is a big fan. He was very impressed that I’m the dad to the youngest fiction writer in America. The highlight of course will be Connor’s book launch of his book A GIANT PENCIL on August 11th. We are so proud of him and he is so excited.

GL: Oh man! I haven't read any RL Stine in ages… That's awesome! Sounds like y'all have had a fantastic summer already.

GL: Do you have time to read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?

JW: I am a frustrated, avid reader. I never have enough time to read and wish I could read a couple of books a week—impossible with day jobs and family and getting books out. I just finished Brett J. Talley’s THE VOID and I loved it. As great as his first book was, this one is even better. I also am halfway through Stoker award winner Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s latest book, BOTTLED ABYSS. It is fantastic and I highly recommend it. My big discovery of the summer is THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE by Brian Andrews. It’s a science thriller and one of the best books I’ve read in awhile.

GL: Where is the worst/most terrifying place you've ever lived? Best/most enriching?

JW: Well, I grew up in Berlin at the height of the Cold War, which was both chilling and enriching. I can remember walking past the Berlin Wall and seeing the East German border guards in their watch towers, looking at us across that short distance. All over the wall were plaques and hand written flyers about the latest person who was shot and left for hours to bleed to death while they tried to escape across to the west. I have actually been through the infamous checkpoint Charlie. While at times terrifying, especially as a kid, it also gave me a huge appreciation for the freedoms we in America sometimes take for granted. It most definitely shaped the person I was to become and many of the career choices I have made.

GL: What are you working on now and when can we expect to get our hands on it?

JW: My next book after THE DONORS is also from JournalStone as part of our three-book deal. It is called FADE TO BLACK and will be out next summer, 2013. It’s the story of a young man, trapped between two worlds and trying to decide which is real and which is fantasy—or are they both somehow real? In one, he is a young U.S. Marine Sergeant, slowly dying in the street after losing half of his men in the battle of Fallujah and wanting desperately to get home to his wife and daughter. In the other, he is a middle-America science teacher, plagued by horrible dreams about a place he thinks he has never been. Eventually he is visited by the dead Marine buddies he shouldn’t know and must decide if he is losing his mind or something far worse is happening to him.

I just finished my fourth novel JULIAN’S NUMBERS and this week started on my newest project called WAR TORN. JULIAN’S NUMBERS is about a boy with a terrible gift, a dad with a terrible past, some ghosts and a sailing vacation from hell. In WAR TORN, I am leaving the supernatural and horror genres (just briefly) and writing a more inspiration book about a young soldier whose faith in God is shaken after he is forced to make terrible decisions in combat.

GL: We have so much to look forward to!

GL: Tell us again how we can find Connor’s book.

JW: Connor’s book A GIANT PENCIL will be released on August 11th at a big launch event at the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa. When it comes out, he will be the youngest, traditionally published fiction writer in America. The event is open to the public, so if you are in the Tampa Bay area, you can come and meet Connor, hear a reading, and get a signed copy of his book. A GIANT PENCIL is a picture book for the elementary aged kids, like second through fourth grade perhaps. It is a fun and very imaginative story that kids will love, but has a great family message that parents and teachers will appreciate, too.

It will be available at Barnes and Noble online
as well as and other booksellers. His website is and will have lots of links and updates.

Everyone be on the lookout for a review of A Giant Pencil and an interview with Connor soon! I have been waiting months to get my hands on this book and have my chance to chitchat with its author… J

Thanks so much, Jeff, for stopping by and hanging out with us again! I'm sure we'll be seeing you around in the future. I hope you and your family have a fantastic conclusion to the summer. I REALLY wish I could be there for Connor's book release! And, tell your mom I said hello J