Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Interview with Peter Rawlik, author of Reanimators - August 7, 2013

Please welcome Peter Rawlik to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Reanimators will be published on September 3, 2013. The eBook was published on June 4, 2013.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thanks it is a true pleasure to be here, and I really do mean that. The internet and social media have been a significant boon to my budding career.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Peter:  I’ve always written stories. I can remember working on a story as a child and misspelling “condemned” as “condomed”, I think my mother choked on her drink. In high school I wrote one novella and started another (both of which I still have), and published some poetry. Through college I dabbled and entertained friends, but didn’t really get serious until the mid Nineties, when I started writing for the regional fanzine. In 1997 I made my first professional sale, but then for some reason, barring some non-fiction and reviews, didn’t really try to write anything else until 2010. Of course since then I can’t seem to stop. As for why, I don’t know. People, often times the same people come into my head and start talking, they say and do the strangest things. It seems only natural to write it down. Thankfully, they don’t seem to mind me doing so.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Peter:  When I started writing in the Nineties, I did so at a wonderful little coffee bar in downtown West Palm Beach, surrounded by people talking, bands playing, wait staff working. Now I can’t seem to work without a significant amount of background noise. I tend to write while watching television, British mystery series mostly such as Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost, and The Last Detective.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Peter:  Neither, both. I do timelines, incredibly detailed timelines of world events, character histories, fictional events, and even histories for other people’s characters. Once I have these done I tend to layout some ideas, pick some critical events that I want to incorporate and then write those particular chapters, often in such a manner that they can function as stand-alone stories. Once these are done I write the linking chapters. Then I rewrite, making sure that the whole thing hangs together.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Peter:  Every so often I lose control of a character. In Reanimators one particular character was supposed to just walk on and then walk off, instead he took control and refused to leave for a significant portion of the book. He was such a powerful personality, and exerted such control over the other characters that both I and the protagonist decided that the only way to deal with him was to murder him. Since then I’ve written three more tales about this very difficult character, and will probably write several more.

TQ:  Describe Reanimators in 140 characters or less.

Peter:  The horrors attributed to Dr. Herbert West are well documented, but the true story, and his greatest rival, have remained secret, until now.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Reanimators?

PeterReanimators is an accidental novel. I had set out to write a completely different novel, one that featured several characters borrowed from the works of H. P. Lovecraft. One of them, Dr. Hartwell, was a very minor character in The Dunwich Horror, but he has almost no character development. When I went to write him, I realized I knew nothing about him, his personality or his motivations. So I set out to write a few stories about him, to flesh him out. A hundred thousand words later Reanimators was finished and I knew exactly who Dr. Hartwell was.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Reanimators?

Peter:  The novel starts in 1905 and ends in 1930. It is a period rich in history and drama including the Great War, the loss of the Titanic, and the Spanish Flu, I’ve put all of these to good use, but I’ve also taken advantage of other events both real and imagined. An earthquake in Messalina, a World Series that ends in a tie, Charlie Chan’s honeymoon, the death of Christine Daae, all weave together in a strange sort of secret history. In order to pull this off I had to track the lives, loves and lies of dozens of people and characters. This meant not only studying early twentieth century medicine, but also rereading The Phantom of the Opera, the works of Jules Verne, Dashiell Hammett, John Marquand, and even Rex Stout. Numerous characters from Lovecraft and other writers of the Cthulhu mythos also appear, and I think I’ve given them all a fair representation.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Peter:  Oddly, the answer to both questions is the same character, Pr.Nathaniel Peaslee. Through a strange turn of events this meek professor of economics undergoes a radical transformation into a ruthless, inhuman creature capable of nearly anything. This made him incredibly easy to write, because he could be used to do anything, and his motives need not be justified. However, this rather endearing ruthlessness, meant that nobody was safe, and all the characters that I needed to survive long enough to actual tell his tale had to be on their best behavior, or risk ending up liquidated.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Reanimators?

Peter:  The one I never intended to write. My publisher provided some absolutely magnificent artwork for use on the cover, but the actual scene portrayed wasn’t in the original manuscript. But once I saw it, and realized who the characters in the scene were, and what they were doing, everything just sort of fell into place, and a scene that I had meant to be extremely anti-climactic suddenly became one of the most dramatic, and I think satisfying pieces of the novel.

TQ:  What's next?

Peter:  I have eighteen short stories accepted and awaiting publication, and I’m currently plugging away at the sequel to Reanimators tentatively entitled The Weird Company, which is the novel I had originally set out to write. Now that I know who Dr. Hartwell is, perhaps I can finally see his part in this little adventure, from the beginning, and to the end.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thanks for having me. It is a real honor to have been chosen, and honestly the whole thing has just been a thrill.


Night Shade Books, September 3, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages
(the eBook was published on June 4, 2013)

Herbert West’s crimes against nature are well-known to those familiar with the darkest secrets of science and resurrection. Obsessed with finding a cure for mankind’s oldest malady, death itself, he has experimented upon the living and dead, leaving behind a trail of monsters, mayhem, and madness. But the story of his greatest rival has never been told — until now.

Dr. Stuart Hartwell, a colleague and contemporary of West, sets out to destroy him by uncovering the secrets of his terrible experiments, only to become what he initially despised: a reanimator of the dead.

For more than twenty years, the two scientists race each other to master the mysteries of life . . . and unlife. From the grisly battlefields of the Great War to the haunted coasts of Dunwich and Innsmouth, from the halls of fabled Miskatonic University to the sinking of the Titanic, their unholy quests leave their mark upon the world — and create monsters of them both.

About Peter

Peter Rawlik was first exposed to H.P. Lovecraft when his father read him “The Rats in the Walls” as a bedtime story. He has been collecting Lovecraftian fiction ever since. For more than two decades he has run Dead Ink, selling rare and unusual books. He resides in South Florida.


Look for a Guest Blog by Peter on September 10th.

1 comment:

  1. Just started reading the novel. It's really old school. So far, one of the best novels I've read in the last year.