Interview with George Wilhite
By Shane R Collins
George Wilhite has had an eclectic writing career. He earned his masters in American literature from Sonoma State University. Wilhite serves as a contributing editor for Static Movement and regularly writes book reviews for The Horror Review. He self-published his first collection of short stories, On the Verge of Madness, in July, 2011 and his second collection, Silhouettes of Darkness, was picked up by Musa Publishing and is scheduled to release September 28th, 2012. Currently, he is penning his first novel.
Collins: Your first collection you self-published but your second collection is through a traditional publisher. How do the two experiences compare?
Wilhite: I decided to self-publish the first time just to get a book out. I was having some success with publishing individual stories, though still for little or no money, but no luck with a publisher willing to release a collection. Collections are much harder sells than novels.
I have no talent in the area of graphic arts, so I knew I needed help with the cover. For a reasonable cost, the publisher, Lulu.com, provided a serviceable enough cover, but nothing extraordinary. To be honest, the most interesting element of the cover is the photography from my wife I offered as base material.
Another struggle of self-publishing was the editing. I didn’t have much money to spend so I just went over the manuscript several times myself, and my ever-patient wife did so a few times, and I also enlisted the help of some fellow writers. While the process was all rather painstaking, it was worth the effort to have an actual book to promote.
So far, the process with Musa seems different in just about every way. I had already been through the stories individually, and the manuscript as a whole, just as many times as I had with On the Verge before submitting it to Musa. The great thing now is that they will bring a fresh set of eyes to the final editing process and--thank goodness!--a talented artist to create a book cover. It is a great relief to let these specialists help make the book the best it can be and to tap into their existing marketing and distribution.
Collins: Why do you enjoy writing horror over other genres?
Wilhite: I think one of the main reasons I write horror goes back to writing from character. This genre exposes defining moments for human beings, in the sense that moments of terror, of confrontation with fear and trepidation of the unknown, even the unknowable; bring out the best or worst in us. If you read firsthand accounts of war, this same kind of juxtaposition of wrong and right, kill or be killed, comes up time and again. Films like“Platoon” and “The Hurt Locker” presents these kinds of themes well, and I think horror provides similar insight into the primal self within us all.
Collins: Once your second collection comes out this October, what’s next on your writing agenda?
Wilhite: I am currently writing my first novel. The novel is the first in a planned series “Intrepid City.” I have spent considerable time creating a huge backstory for this series, so if the first book catches on, I hope to find a publisher interested in committing to the series. Intrepid City exists in an alternate universe where demons, humans and Halflings co-exist. The Underworld is still home to plenty of demons, imps and other creatures and the stories I have planned have much to do with the intrigue between their world and ours, which they call Up Above.
The main character is a private detective/gun for hire, a demon who has come to appreciate humankind and chosen to live among us, passing as human. These unique qualities lead to his involvement in cases and adventures featuring many different infernal creatures, and some cameo appearances from some well-known humans from our past, damned to The Underworld. It has been great fun to write.
Collins: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Wilhite: No matter how dark the subject matter of my work gets at times, there is an undercurrent that human beings can survive even the most savage and effective attacks from supernatural forces. Even my stories with disturbing endings, either open-ended or bleak, normally have some aspect the reader can cling to and think “well, if Wilhite decided to continue this, it is possible things could be resolved.” Rarely do I just leave my characters in some kind of existential chaos.
Collins: Do you have any advice for other writers?
*To read the rest of this interview, be sure to check out the August issue of The Speculative Edge!
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