Thursday, October 29, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: David W. Edwards, Novelist, Screenwriter, Producer, Director

David W. Edwards, Author
Writer, producer, director NIGHTSCAPE 
Reviewers describe David W. Edwards newest novel, NIGHTSCAPE: CYNOPOLIS  as “Urban horror at its best... a rollicking, action-packed thriller/fantasy” and “unique;” and Edwards as “a master of character building.” He positions his new book as an “urban-horror novel.” Although it is the second of his NIGHTSCAPE books, he says it is standalone even though readers of both might recognize some characters.

Both a screenwriter and novelist, Edwards “feels comfortable” writing either. He is also a director and producer as well as writer of the feature film Nightscape. He is currently editing the first in a new series of books, Nightscape Double Feature No. 1. When he’s not writing, producing, directing or working at his market research-based business, he manages to get in some hiking with his wife, play low-stakes poker once a month, and occasionally go see a movie.

Q: Tell us about NIGHTSCAPE: CYNOPOLIS. Is it a sequel to NIGHTSCAPE: THE DREAMS OF DEVILS? Is it horror, paranormal, thriller, adventure, or ????

David W. Edwards: I’d characterize it as an urban action-horror novel. How’s that for a hybrid genre? The book features a lot of widescreen physical action but the motivating threat is supernatural. More specifically, it’s about a former counterculture radical who turns Detroit’s dogs feral and its underclass into a horde of jackal-headed beasts. The few remaining humans must find a way to elude the military blockade preventing their escape or defeat the thought-virus at its source—before government forces sacrifice them all.

Each NIGHTSCAPE release works as a standalone effort. If you read the first novel or see the film prior to reading CYNOPOLIS, however, you’ll be rewarded with some surprising connections.

Q: Is NIGHTSCAPE targeted at Young Adult readers? Do you believe this genre grabs young adults most effectively?

David W. Edwards: Even though THE DREAMS OF DEVILS features teen protagonists, neither that book nor any of the other entries in the series are targeted at the young adult market. That’s not to say teens wouldn’t enjoy the series. But the entries released so far are intended for mature readers. Or, at least readers who can handle profanity and graphic violence along with high-falutin’ references to Frantz Fanon, G.W.F. Hegel and quantum physics.  

Q:  A reviewer of NIGHTSCAPE: THE DREAMS OF DEVILS touts the story as “a refreshing departure from the usual paranormal teenage drama” and “a perfect read for those looking for a paranormal adventure off the beaten trail.” Do you agree? And, if so, does NIGHTSCAPE: CYNOPOLIS follow this approach?

David W. Edwards: I’d like to think both books are uniquely compelling. CYNOPOLIS is distinguished from the previous book, in part, by its emphasis on action. After the second chapter or so, the action is relentless and varied, running the gamut from simple fisticuffs to psychic warfare. The finale is a continuous thirty-plus page battle scene. It’s like Tom Clancy meets William Burroughs.

Q: Do you feature villains vs heroes in your stories? What makes an effective villain? Do you need a villain to portray a hero?

David W. Edwards: With one exception, I’d hesitate to describe any of the characters in CYNOPOLIS as wholly heroic or villainous. I generally take a Shakespearean approach, that is, I let my characters’ thoughts and actions speak for themselves without editorializing. Even my protagonists are flawed in important (and hopefully, relatable) ways. One of the main point-of-view characters, for instance, leads a street gang. Events compel him to question gang culture and his relationship to the larger community. His change of mind gives the story’s coda its moral force. 

Q: What traits do you use to develop your characters so that readers will find them engaging and care about them? Is humor helpful? And are they perfect or flawed?

David W. Edwards: CYNOPOLIS has a fairly large cast of characters. To help readers keep them straight, I focused on one or two distinctive personality traits. One character, a homeless but educated bookseller, has an irresistible habit of composing bits of poetry. It’s not just a readily identifiable personality tic. This habit proves essential in resolving the central conflict.

I also work hard to distinguish characters on the basis of dialogue. My goal here is to craft dialogue that’s putatively realistic, but doesn’t simply mimic real speech with all of its fitfulness and disconnections. When appropriate, I try to give my dialogue the quality of a persuasive dream.

Q: Do you prefer writing screenplays or novels? What’s the main difference? Is it more difficult to write a screenplay or a novel?

David W. Edwards: I’m perfectly comfortable writing both screenplays and novels. My training as a screenwriter at the University of Southern California gave me a strong sense of story structure and helped inform my approach to dialogue. Screenplays, however, are necessarily limited in scope and impact. Firstly, screenplays are blueprints for movies. They aren’t regarded by producers as ends-in-themselves. So the actual writing tends to be flat and functional compared to that of an involving book.

Secondly, given that movies are primarily a visual medium, complex psychological and emotional states are challenging to get across with novelistic power. It’s easy enough to drop readers directly into a character’s thoughts in a book. The equivalent in film—the voice-over—isn’t nearly as effective and can’t be sustained to the same degree as prose without losing most of the audience. There are a few stream-of-consciousness rants in CYNOPOLIS that would be impossible to replicate on film without veering into quasi-Terence Malick territory. 

Q: Do you write primarily to entertain your readers? Or, do you also embed a message or two in your stories?

David W. Edwards: At the risk of sounding hopelessly insular, I write to entertain myself. I gravitate to the stories I wish already existed. Imagining what my amorphous readership wants would lead to madness as readily as any secret grimoire of H.P. Lovecraft’s. When it’s appropriate to the story, I also try to give it some elevated sensibility or purpose beyond entertainment. CYNOPOLIS has a definite moral center, though I’ll leave it to readers to suss out the novel’s meaning.

Q: How relevant is credibility in a paranormal story? What will drive a paranormal reader crazy if they encounter it in your story?

David W. Edwards: Credibility is of paramount importance. That’s why I conducted loads of research for CYNOPOLIS. Getting the mundane details right is what makes the fantastic elements of your story believable. I spent a week in Detroit shadowing a no-kill dog rescue operation, participated in police ride-alongs, conducted a variety of interviews and risked the attention of the NSA in researching the answers to questions like ‘How can you explode a rocket without its piezoelectric arming mechanism?’

If I’ve done my job right, the only thing that will drive a reader crazy is the anticipation of learning what comes next.

Q: What’s next?

David W. Edwards: I’m currently editing the first in a new series of books, Nightscape Double Feature No. 1. The book consists of two pulp-style novels and will be published in a tête-bêche or dual-cover format like the old Ace Doubles. The first novel, The Thousand-Eyed Fear, is set near the end of World War One. It’s about a ragtag group of teen soldiers tasked with infiltrating a secret German base that harbors a terrible supernatural threat. The second novel, The Blood Canvas, is a pre-World War Two murder-mystery featuring a female French detective who uses surrealist art techniques to uncover clues. Credit goes to genre veterans Derrick Ferguson and Sean Taylor for their exceptional work on these stories. The book has a February 2016 pub date.

Following that, I plan to issue a Nightscape concept album in the vein of Rush and Black Sabbath, along with another novel, Nightscape: Among the Unsaved. There’s certainly no shortage of ideas, just the time and resources to realize them.

Q: Tell us about David W. Edwards. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

David W. Edwards: I have a fairly demanding day job as a market research-based business consultant. Most of my spare time outside of that or writing-related activities is spent with family or friends. My wife and I enjoy hiking in and around our hometown, and take in the occasional movie in the theater (my preferred venue). I also participate in a low-stakes poker game about every six weeks or so. I’m not a great poker player, but I’m not one to shy away from a little risk.
About David W. Edwards

David W. Edwards is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Nightscape and author of the novels NIGHTSCAPE: THE DREAMS OF DEVILS and NIGHTSCAPE: CYNOPOLIS.  He attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. He’s the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his family.


Detroit’s eastside has seen its share of horrors. Once-proud factories gutted for scrap. Whole neighborhoods burned out and boarded up. Nature drained of color. But nothing like this: a thought-virus that turns the city’s dogs feral and its underclass into jackal-headed beasts.

The city erupts in chaos and nightmare violence. Communication in or out is impossible. The skies fill with lethal drone copters and airships bristling with heavy-duty cannon. Abandoned to their separate fates among hordes of monsters, the few surviving humans must find a way to elude the military blockade preventing their escape or defeat the virus at its source—before government forces sacrifice them all.

Breakneck action, rogue science and deft portraiture combine for a grand and gripping tale of urban terror.


Website  Readers can order a discounted and signed edition of the book from this site

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