So, David, when did you decide to become a writer?
About three years ago, I found myself in a dead end job. There was no satisfaction in the work anymore and I needed to do something that I felt good about, so I started to write again. When I was younger, I wrote but I always got stalled on projects and never finished them, so I gave it up. I hadn’t touched a novel or a short story in at least a decade when I started to pursue it again. The first thing I wrote was this short story about finding a mysterious record album at a garage sale and an obsessive search into the records origin. It wasn’t the best story, but miraculously I finished it. And it worked—writing gave me a sense of accomplishment that helped me put up with things at the job. It made me a lot happier. And the passion for it has just kept growing since then.
What books do you enjoy reading today?
In terms of genre, I’ll read pretty much anything that crosses my path. This year I’m making a point of reading author’s that I have never read before but feel I should. I just finished Neil Gaiman’s American God’s. I’m really sorry I got to that party so late. I just loved it and I will have to read a lot more of him. But up next, I have an Ian Rankin novel to get to.
What’s your latest book about?
Mr. 8 is a supernatural thriller about a small New England town besieged by disappearances and killings. The victims leave behind the numeral eight scrawled all over their homes. A local college professor gets brought in to determine the psychological cause behind it. But what he discovers is that the murders are only one piece to the puzzle and that a wave of insanity is sweeping the town.
Sounds intriguing ! What was the inspiration behind your novel?
One morning I woke up in a panic believing I was dying. I had passed from a nightmare into consciousness without being fully aware of the transition. The dream had been terrifying but was filled with many vivid and bizarre details. To calm myself, I started to organize the fragments into a story and by the time I got out of bed, I had nearly the entire plot of Mr. 8.
How do you develop characters?
I don’t do a lot of planning with my work. I really enjoy the discovery that comes from freestyling the story. The best part of that discovery is the characters. All of my characters start off from a point of necessity: I need someone to do or say something. From there I start building them up by defining their appearance, identifying mannerism, giving them a quirk, etc. After that, it’s all about making them as human as possible. It’s a little like method acting. I try to forget myself and let them strut about on stage. Usually they’ll tell me who they are.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Playing video games. I used to spend an hour or two a night and some more time on the weekends playing on a console. Writing has replaced that. I think on a certain level both activities filled the same need. I was always interested in big story driven games. It’s different from books or film; there’s just a higher level of interactivity it. And writing is a much more interactive way to immerse yourself in a story. Sometimes I regret that I don’t have the time for gaming anymore, but not often.
Can you tell us what you are working on next?
I’m currently working on a three book science-fiction series called The Things We Bury. It’s about a government lab that is researching supernatural species, but the workers there may be more dangerous than the monsters they imprison. Just like with Mr. 8, I’m writing it as a serialized novel on Wattpad and book one should be finished in a couple of months. The reaction I’ve been getting has been extremely positive.
What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
I would make a terrible collaborator—I’m very controlling when it comes to my writing. I wouldn’t want any author I admired to go through that. But I do have a fantasy about hanging out with Haruki Murakami drinking Scotch and listening to jazz.
If the book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading role?
I would cast Seth Gabel as Denton Reed. I know him from his work on Fringe and he has just the right look. He’s a bit younger than Denton, but if the movie doesn’t get made for a few years, it might work out perfectly.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
My best advice is to write what makes you happy. Don’t write what you think others want to read. Don’t write what you think will make you successful. If there’s a unique story inside of you that will give you pleasure to explore, it’s the only story that is worth spending your time on.
Title: Mr. 8
Author: David J. Thirteen
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Horror
Psychology professor Denton Reed has been pulled out of the classroom to find a killer. Bodies are turning up all over the quiet town of Bexhill. They are found dismembered and burned beyond recognition in a snow covered farmer’s field, by the abandoned mill, and under the train bridge. The only clue linking the victims is the bizarre figure eight patterns left behind in their homes.
Denton must use his unique profiling techniques to uncover the murderer, who the police have dubbed Mr. 8. As he begins to unravel the mystery, a strange pattern begins to emerge. Before their deaths, each victim was seized by dark obsessions and inexplicable changes in behavior. Whatever strange forces are affecting the people of Bexhill, they may actually be more dangerous than any killer.
As a wave of insanity sweeps the town, Denton will put his life on the line to get to the source of the madness and risk all to protect the woman he loves.
But is it already too late?
David J. Thirteen has studied English Literature, Film Making, and Media Studies. He has lived and worked in the technology field for twenty years throughout the North East, in both Canada and the U.S. Writing has been a hidden passion for most of his life.
Mr. 8 is his first published novel and will be in stores on February 5th, 2015. It was first written as a serial story on Wattpad, where it became a #1 ranked feature novel. He still writes and posts new stories on Wattpad every week.
David currently lives in Toronto, Canada and lives a bright life, while dreaming dark dreams.