Interview: Cry, Wolf













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This interview was conducted by Ellen heavner for the web site at the author's home in 2001.
 
WARNING: Major spoilers ahead! On this page, all aspects of the novel are discussed in depth, including the ending. If you'd rather not know too much before you read the book, then please come back to the interview later.
















This is Ellen Heavner interviewing Glenn Clark on his innovative horror novel Cry, Wolf.

 

That's me.

 

Good. I'm glad we have this strait. Now, this is your first published book, right?

 

Right.

 

So did you always want to be a writer?

 

Not always. When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist. Before that, I wanted to be a "bad guy," but my mom wouldn't have it.

 

So you gave that up.

 

Well, yeah, and that's when I became interested in archaeology at the age of...seven. But I didn't always want to be a writer. Although I did always have a knack for it. Like when I was in kindergarten, I wrote what I called a book at the time. It was like...

 

Was that your first finished book?

 

Well, yeah. I guess so. It was fully illustrated with stick figures. It was probably about three or four pages long, and it had a tragic ending.

 

So I see there's a trend in your work.

 

Well, yeah. Who believes in happy endings? Really they're all just happy interludes.

 

Well that's one way of looking at it. Did you finish any full length novels before this one now?

 

No.

 

No?

 

No.

 

So this is your first finished really...piece of work.

 

That's the first finished grown up novel that I ever did.

 

And how long did it take you?

 

Well, I got the idea in 1995, and I finished writing it in 1997, well the first draft, and it was published finally in 1999. So, about four years from concept to publication.

 

Wow!

 

Yeah.

 

As long as you mentioned concept, I was gonna bring this up later, but where did the concept come from? What was your inspiration? Was it just something that struck you in the middle of the night, or...?

 

Actually yeah! (laughter)

 

The whole thing, or just the plot kernel, or...

 

Pretty much the whole thing, except maybe little details like say Daniel's mother. That wasn't there. But I was just laying in bed trying very hard to fall asleep one night, and this idea just popped in my head out of absolutely nowhere. Just the plot. The story: beginning, middle, end.

 

Oh wow.

 

So I had to get up and start taking notes.

 

Right.

 

Within a week, I had a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. So, it was just in my head, just burning to come out. The funny thing is that a couple years before...well several years before...I wanted to write a werewolf story and make it really scary, 'cause I thought werewolf stories were basically lame, but I thought the idea of werewolves was kinda cool. I could never think up anything. And it was years after I'd given up that something just popped in my head that was totally different. What I wanted to do was reinvent werewolves.

 

Ah, so that's where...yeah, I had a question about that. One of the things that struck me in the book was your different view of werewolves. That was really part of what made it interesting. Like, you know, the shape you have the monster is not described as being wolf-like; it's described as being more like a shadow coming out of his body and enveloping him. And, you know, more like a possession really. And there were other things, like the silver bullet not working unless it was dipped in holy water and that kind of thing; or, you know, like the knife being dipped in holy water. I thought that was really intriguing. There was also the part about werewolf blood keeping away other werewolves, which is not in any fiction that I've heard about. So, did you do research on this, or was all of this out of your imagination? Is all of this out of your head?

 

Well I did do a lot of research on werewolves.

 

Did you?

 

Yeah. And I learned some pretty interesting stuff like about werecows and werebears and...I was wondering if Uncle Remus was involved. (laughter)

 

(laughter) What were your sources? I mean, where did you go to research?

 

Oh, just the library pretty much. I can't even remember the names of the books that I used. I just...anything about werewolves or ancient and medieval sort of myths and legends, but the werewolf thing goes back to ancient, ancient times. That's been around a long time, and like every ancient culture has pretty much the same sort of thing: lycanthrope, people turning into animals against their will, and the wolf is the most common, but, like I said, they also have cows. (laughter)

 

(laughter) Very interesting.

 

Well yeah. (laughter) But yeah, there's a lot of stuff that did just come from my imagination like...like what I did was I took the basic idea, and I made it work for me. I made it work for the story, 'cause the story was about kind of...good and evil. It was like a faith crisis, so God was involved. So I wanted to make it clear that the power of God is what could get rid of the werewolf, so that whenever Daniel is pleading to God, you know that God has the power to take it away. I mean, it was important to know that God could have, you know, taken it away...but didn't.

 

Well, you know, actually, that wasnt quite what I got from it. (laughter)

 

(laughter) Well maybe I didn't get that across too well.

 

The book is basically about good and evil, which is something that comes through very strongly, but I also thought that it weakened it, because I thought that um basically the main character...is unbelievable.

 

(laughter)

 

I mean, I thought that he was one-dimensional and unbelievable. I mean,  once I got about half way three quarters through the book, I thought, "Well, okay. It's serving its purpose." Basically, it's what the literary people would call a foil. Did you do that on purpose?

 

Make him uninteresting?

 

Well yeah, I mean make him so extreme that he was unbelievable.

 

Yeah, well, the thing is with Daniel...the only way to tell the story the way it was in my head was for him to be...to go from one complete extreme to the other. So yeah I had to make him...irritatingly goody-two-shoes at first, (laughter) and Daniel got on my nerves. He was the character I was least interested in, but he was the central character. Strangely enough.

 

Yeah. That's gotta be pretty hard to write about. I mean it's gotta be pretty hard to write when you're not interested in the central character. (laughter)

 

(laughter) But I was interested in the story. I was interested in his pain. Like after he got...messed up...he got a little more interesting, but at the same time, he irritated me, because, well, I would never react the way he did. (laughter) I mean...It just seems...he just went to the opposite extreme. He just gave up, pretty much. So...he irritated me.

 

Interestingly enough, although I found him to be totally one-dimensional, I found his relationship with his friends to be totally believable. Although not necessarily his girlfriend but um...

 

Right. (laughter)

 

That was part of the moving to the extreme good.

 

Exactly.

 

Were any of the characters inspired by real people?

 

All of them.

 

All of them?

 

All of them.

 

So, is Daniel inspired by a real person?

 

Well, I guess he could be inspired by the idea of a real person, more than like...I guess...

 

More than like somebody you knew?

 

...I gotta think of how to explain it. I guess, when I was younger, I went through sort of a naive period. Sort of a denying my own...(laughter) naughtiness period. So I guess Daniel started out being sort of the person I once thought that I should be, and then he ended up being the person I had once feared that I actually was.

 

That's very interesting. (laughter)

 

(laughter) But I never was like Daniel. As far as I know. On one extreme or the other.

 

You just thought you were.

 

Right, right. I thought I was that bad, and I thought I should be that good. So that's kind of who he is. He's these phantom people.

 

That's really interesting. I mean, it's really drawing from yourself. It brings your characters drawing from your own, which is a really interesting way to do it. I mean, a lot of writers do not dig that deep into themselves to bring that out. What about his parents?

 

Oh. (laughter)

 

Oh! Were they based on people? I mean real people?

 

Yeah.

 

They were.

 

Yeah. Well I mean his dad was a really good guy. And I guess you could say I based that a lot on my dad. Just 'cause my dad's always helped me whenever I needed it. He's always been there for me. And his mom was based on all the crazy women I've ever known. Basically kind of just mixed into one person, like you take a quirk of this relative and that relative and this neighbor and just put 'em all into one person, and they just go nuts. It's kind of like chemistry...when you blow things up.

 

(laughter) Well I think you went a little to the extremes there too. I found her kin'a unbelievable. I mean, not as unbelievable as Daniel maybe, but...it's...I don't know. It's like there wasn't enough justification somehow for her being like that, or...I mean, you explained...she explained her background much later in the book, but upfront it just seemed very strange.

 

Right. Well, a lot of the things in the book that some people might think are just really bizarre...well, you have to understand, "You write what you know," and I know people like this. That just without any explanation are completely irrational, completely insane.

 

Now stop me if I'm wrong but didn't you grow up in a small town in Texas?

 

No, I didn't. I actually grew up...well, the fist few years to second grade I lived in Garland, if that counts.

 

Ah...not really

 

(laughter) But no, I grew up in Dallas and Houston.

 

Oh really?

 

Yeah, for the most part.

 

'Cause I thought that you captured actually the flavor of small town Texas really well.

 

Well, the way I did that was I based the town kind of on my church community.

 

Ah!

 

Because my church is kind of like a small town in itself. Because you've got all these weird, weird people, and it's like everybody kinda knows everybody, but not necessarily everybody if that makes sense. You know, it's like when people know who I am, and I don't know who they are, and sometimes its the other way around. It's just...it's kinda like that, and you've got the gossip going on and the people who do nothing but gossip. You've got the people that are just trashy. You've got all the entrepreneurs, the guy who cuts everybody's hair. That's how I got the whole...

 

Yeah! Well it was really well done.

 

Thank you.

 

One of the other things...one of my favorite parts actually was...and it was good that it was early in the novel, because I'm not normally a horror book sort of person. I used to be when I was younger actually, but I kinda grew out of it...was the section where Pastor Jim showed the main characters, the boys, the book that had the chronicle of the Werewolf Plague of the 1850s.

 

Oh yeah.

 

I thought that was really compelling. I mean, I was fascinated by that. I thought it was really cool and, not only that, I thought it was really well written. I thought that you did a good job of capturing the tone of sort of nineteenth century journals. Did you research that, or did that just kinda come?

 

Well, I didn't research it as much as I had wanted to.

 

Really?

 

But I did try to research it a little bit. I had a couple mistakes in there like my dad pointed out to me that they didn't have Thermoses in 1850. I had written something in there with a Thermos.

 

Well yeah.  There was a vile or something that I picked up on.

 

Well, those they had. They did, but...

 

Yeah, but how many Indians are you gonna find running around with a glass vile?

 

Right. Well, this particular Indian had a history of doing this sort of thing so...it can be explained. (laughter)

 

Still seemed a little odd to me. I mean, you know, it just went into a battle, and it came through unbroken? Um, what was your favorite part of the book?

Oh gee. (laughter)

 

How 'bout your least favorite part of the book? Is that easier?

 

Hm. I don't know. Le'me think. I can answer this. This is the same problem I had whenever they told me I had to write a blurb about the book in two sentences. It's like, "I dont know. I think everyone should know everything about the book. That's why I wrote the whole thing!" So...um...hm...

 

I understand the problem.

 

Okay. Most favorite. Least favorite. I don't know, maybe...maybe it could be kind of summed up in not like one scene in particular but types of scenes. I really enjoyed any of the scenes with Daniel and his friends, or Daniel and Tom particularly. I really enjoyed writing those. And, uh, least favorite...then again, my favorite scene might well be the very last scene. I just really enjoyed that. I don't know why.

 

Yeah. I sensed that there was a turning point somewhere maybe three quarters of the way through the novel where you just sort of let loose and...that was it! Everything and everybody was being destroyed! I mean, it was sort of like, I dont know how to describe it...it was sort of like Godzilla just trampling through the city and you still...the funny thing about this is you still had some vague hope that maybe it would turn out all right in the end...and it didn't. And it didn't exactly surprise me, but I mean it was enough to keep me reading so that I, you know...I wanted to make sure that that was what happened and I wasn't missing anything. There are a couple of little things that make your book unique. I think one of which is details like the puppy, which is almost comic relief, really, in the middle of that book, which you don't often find, and you almost never find in horror novels these days.

 

Right.

 

In Shakespeare's time, in like something like King Lear, or one of his tragedies, he would always have a comic relief scene in the middle of it.

 

I know!

 

And somehow, that's a tradition that's been lost. I mean, you don't see Anne Rice putting comic relief scenes in the middle of The Vampire Chronicles.

 

I was gonna bring Shakespeare up because of that. I'm a firm believer in comic relief, just because I think...you have a dark story, you have to kind of balance it with something. Because, I dont know, you go through dark times in your life, there's still things to laugh at. There's ridiculous things going on.

 

It's true. So I thought that was a very good point in favor of the book.

 

Like the chicken scene. That was one of my favorites!

 

The chicken scene?

 

The chicken scene. (laughter)

 

I have to admit that was more comic even than the puppy. I just like the puppy better.

 

Thank you.

 

(laughter)

 

The puppy wasn't in the outline either.

 

Oh really?

 

Yeah. You wanna know...

 

Just kind of popped up?

 

I was gonna kill the puppy actually.

 

Aha! I knew it!

 

But it just didn't happen, 'cause you gotta let the characters dictate whenever the outline isn't working. But the puppy not even being in the outline, I was just writing...all that was in the outline was something like, "Daniel kills people." And there might have been a little bit more detail than that, but none of the exact situations that he got into were in the outline. I just kind of was writing so... What I was gonna do was just try to prove that this old lady who's a Sunday school teacher was bad, that just being a Sunday school teacher doesn't make her like a saint. So, she finds the puppy under the root, and she's like, "There's no way Im gonna damage the tree to get you out." So, in the original idea that I had, she was gonna go get an ax and cut the puppy in half. (laughter)

 

Oh jeez!

 

But it just didn't go that way. It seemed equally mean to me for her to sit there yanking on the puppy and then notice that it's starving and refuse to feed it and just send it on to a home that obviously by how thin it is it doesn't have. So to me that summed up how naughty she was, and it worked out well. I was glad the puppy refused to die, because it tied in to a couple other scenes later in the book, and I liked it where the puppy finds Tom at the end. That was kind of neat.

 

Yeah. That was pretty good.

 

'Cause, I mean, to me, I think...well, I like to give some hope for something at the end of the book, even though the central story ends in tragedy, but then the little side stories like...you see Tom is still breathing, the puppy, you know, is okay, and Lillian finds her way out of the rubble. That sort of thing.

 

Yeah. Okay, I understand that you have another book coming out, this summer?

 

Well, hopefully this summer. (laughter) It keeps going back and forth. But, yeah, it should be this summer.

 

Now, is it gonna be another horror novel, or are you spreading out into something...some other genre?

 

Well, it's more...there's more horror elements in it than I like, 'cause I wanted to go completely to a different genre, like the next several books I plan to write, they're all in different genres. But this one, there's one horror story in it, I suppose. It's kind of an indirect spin-off from Cry, Wolf, because it's centered around a character who's just mentioned in the book, and I just, I don't know, when I started...I got this idea for this other story in my head, and that character... All they say about him is that he had helped research the whole werewolf thing, and then he had moved away in the middle of 1995 and gotten married, and I thought, "It could be interesting. Why did he move away? What did he do?" So, anyway, that's the only horror-type story that I have in there. It's an anthology though, so it's four different stories, and one of them is really short and sweet. The third story in that one is kind of surreal. It's just kind of weird. The last one in there is kind of just a blatant morality play. It's not really horror, even though it has a ghost in it. It's not a scary ghost. But I don't consider myself a "horror writer," if that's what you're getting at. I could never be a genre writer. I have too many...I have too much of a variety in my head.

 

Yeah. Well I was wondering, because some people go there and stick with it, and other people try to spread out, and some people go there and get stuck, because they get sort of typed that way.

 

Yeah, that's what I want to avoid.

 

Yeah. Now, you self-published Cry, Wolf, and you're self-publishing your next one. Can you tell me something about that process? Was it difficult? Did you try to get it commercially published first and then go to the self-publishing thing?

 

Yeah. See, I looked into all that, sent the manuscript to a couple of different people, and then found out that most publishers nowadays aren't interested in anything you send them unsolicited at all. It becomes a coaster or just, you know, goes in the garbage. So then it turns out what they look at...the way to get your manuscript seen, is to enter it in contests, 'cause the people from the publishing houses are the judges, so they have to read it beginning to end to judge it. And even if you don't win the contest, then you still get noticed. Someone still might like what you did. So I tried that for a while, mainly with short stories though, 'cause printing out a whole book takes a lot of ink, and I'm a poor, poor man. (laughter)

 

Working by the light of your candle.

 

Right. (laughter) Working by candle light. But, it was after all that that I took the self-publishing rout. It's not the normal self-publishing arrangement, I guess you could say.  They still take credit as publisher, technically, even though, you know, what gets done with the book depends on how much money I put into it. So, it's kinda weird. And they still take a cut of it. They take a big cut of it. So, it's not the normal self-publishing thing, where you pay, you print 500 copies, and then you have 'em all in your garage, (laughter) and you're trying to get book stores to carry 'em. See, I don't mind them taking a huge cut, 'cause they're doing all of the distribution, and they've got it in the Barnes & Noble warehouse, so you can order it from a book store and have it in a week. Then I don't have to go around saying, "Will you please sell my book?" (laughter) So, it's kind of a nice deal.

 

Would you like to tell our audience who these nice people are?

 

Oh, its Xlibris. X-L-I-B-R-I-S.

 

Just wondering, 'cause it sounds like not a bad deal really. I mean, better than, yeah, a typical scene where you publish 500 copies and you have 'em in your garage.

 

And I maintain all the rights, like movie rights and such. I mean, not that there're producers banging on my door or anything, but... (laughter)

 

You never know!

 

It's nice to have that, and I can get out of my contract with them at any point. It's non-exclusive. Even though I kind of like not being published by a big publisher. I kind of like not having someone breathing down my neck, I mean for everything. Not breathing down my neck for, like, editing it their way. I couldn't deal with that.

 

Yeah. That can be an advantage, but it can also be a large disadvantage.

 

That's true.

 

'Cause, you know, a good editor can actually...

 

Bring more of you out?

 

Yeah. But a bad editor can really be a pain and be a real blockage to the quality of the piece.

 

Right. They'll be like, "Can't you make this novel a little more like Full House?"

 

Yeah. (laughter) Basically.

 

I dont think so!

 

I highly recommend that everyone go out and buy a copy of Cry, Wolf and read it. Or, at least all of you novel readers. And that, I think, is about all the questions I had. Is there anything you'd like to add?

 

No. (laughter)

 

(laughter) Absolutely nothing.

 

Well just that...No, no, no. (laughter)

 

(laughter) Okay. We'll turn 'er off then.

 
















All content Copyright 2003 by Glenn Slade Clark, Jr.