TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
FPW: Prioritizing. I keep multiple projects running in various states of development – novels, novellas, some solo, some collaborative. (See below.) Then there’s interviews and promotional stuff, especially approaching pub time. Two or more always seem to need attention RIGHT NOW and so which do I choose?
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
FPW: I’ve always been a plotter, sometimes to the extent that it has sucked the juice out of the actual writing. I don’t let that happen anymore. I plot lots more loosely now – mostly with just story beats – but I always know where I’m going and I always know how it’s going to end. A writer owes his readers a cathartic finale.
I can usually spot a pantser book in its second half when it becomes obvious the author hasn’t figured out how to end it, and you watch it limp to the finish line. I find that annoying as all hell. I’ve invested time and effort in your novel and you let it end with a whimper? Your first half promised a bang!
TQ: You've written many novels about Repairman Jack at various stages of his life. Does Repairman Jack still surprise you?
FPW: He stopped surprising me in the mainline stories – I knew that Jack too well. But he was full of surprises in COLD CITY, mainly because he was a different guy. The Jack I’d been working with was a seasoned urban mercenary who knew who he was, and was aware of his strengths and weaknesses. This new Jack is a callow 21-year old who’s new to the city and is feeling his way along. He’s cut himself off from everyone he knows to create a new life, a new identity, a new Jack. I found it exhilarating and refreshing to work with him.
TQ: Cold City is the first in a trilogy about Repairman Jack's early years. What constitutes Repairman Jack's early years?
FPW: A two-and-a-half year period from late 1990 to early 1993. It’s a perfect place to introduce a newcomer to Jack. He’s 21 in COLD CITY and has just turned 23 by the end of book three. He started out with all sorts of things happening to him and ends up as a guy who’s making things happen. He meets all sorts of people who’ll be popping back into his life in the later books, and he’s learning from them. He’ll still have a ways to go before he’s the streetwise guy you meet in THE TOMB, but you can tell he’s moving along that road.
TQ: What sorts of research have you done for Cold City?
FPW: I will go on at length about this in the Tor newsletter, because it was a royal pain. In 1990, Times Square and the Deuce had yet to be Disneyfied – drugs, prostitutes (male and female) and grindhouse theaters lined the streets. But finding details was almost impossible. I could find all sorts of details about the Five Points neighborhood in 1860, but nothing about early1990s NYC. YouTube saved me when I found videos posted by people who’d been touring the city at that time.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is your favorite scene (or scenes) in Cold City?
FPW: A lot of good scenes with Abe and Julio, and there’s this cool domestic abuse scene with a new character, Dane Bertel, but my favorite sequence is a series of scenes with the Mikulski brothers. They make their entrance as the two stoniest stone killers you’ll ever meet – and are fully intent on executing Jack – but by the end of the sequence you’ll want to buy them a beer.
TQ: What's next?
FPW: I just handed in DARK CITY, the second of the trilogy. I recently finished a Pellucidar novelette for an Edgar Rice Burroughs tribute anthology. Rhodi Hawk and I are working on a novelette for Chris Golden’s DARK DUETS anthology. Traci Carbone and I are revising a medical thriller for Tor. Tom Monteleone and I are polishing the first novel in a YA series. Sarah Pinborough and I are writing (in a catch-as-catch-can fashion because of our schedules) an apocalyptic novella; we’re about 25k words in with no end in sight and no buyer in mind as yet. (Prioritize…prioritize…)
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
About Cold City
Repairman Jack Early Years 1
Tor Books, November 27, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
The first of three Repairman Jack prequels, revealing the past of one of the most popular characters in contemporary dark fantasy: a self-styled “fix-it” man who is no stranger to the macabre or the supernatural, hired by victimized people who have no one else to turn to.
We join Jack a few months after his arrival in New York City. He doesn’t own a gun yet, though he’s already connected with Abe. Soon he’ll meet Julio and the Mikulski brothers. He runs afoul of some Dominicans, winds up at the East Side Marriott the night Meir Kahane is shot, gets on the bad side of some Arabs, starts a hot affair, and disrupts the smuggling of preteen sex slaves. And that’s just Book One.
For a full list of the Repairman Jack novels please visit the Published Fiction portion of F. Paul Wilson's website.
About F. Paul Wilson
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