Shells chats with author David Dunwoody

What's your background with writing?

I started taking it seriously and submitting works to independent publications and small-press outlets in 2004. In 2006 I began serializing my first novel online. EMPIRE was later picked up and released by Permuted Press in 2008, and Gallery Books this past March.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

Key influences in terms of their philosophy are H.P. Lovecraft and the filmmaker David Cronenberg. One explores the terror of the great unknown, and the other the terror of what lies within us. Clive Barker’s beautiful style and imagination with regard to monsters are also big inspirations.

Has any of the writing you've done every scared you or grossed you out where you thought ' I wrote this?'

“Crawlies,” from the anthology DEAD BAIT, is one where I grossed myself out. It has to do with millipedes and orifices. I’ll leave it at that. It’s really the millipedes that gross me out – meaty segmented bugs really get under my skin.

In comparison to short stories, which you have a lot in different anthologies, which one is your favorite and how do you compare that to writing longer works?

Right now I would probably peg my favorite as “Childhood,” which can be read for free online (the link is at under Free Fiction). It deals with a figure which has always fascinated and disturbed me – the clown – plus some elements from my actual childhood. Compared to novels, there’s not always as much room to stretch your legs and delve deeper into concepts, but with a short story you can still paint a vivid picture and then leave the reader with one potent blow to the senses.

As authors, we tend to put our emotions into our writings, do you ever feel at times drained from writing one of your stories because of the emotional impact it may have?

UNBOUND, a novel from the collection UNBOUND & OTHER TALES, was the first work where I really allowed my emotions and thoughts to run free, and it was definitely a cathartic but draining experience. I’m going through something similar with the novel I’m working on at the moment…though it can be a little frightening at times, too, revealing so much of oneself, I’m finding myself more excited with each completed bit of it. I guess it’s worth the pain.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?

Probably the completion of UNBOUND, as it was written during a very dark period, and I had to overcome some demons in order to get it done and ready for print. I’m thrilled that Permuted inked a deal with Simon & Schuster for the EMPIRE re-release, and I can’t wait for the sequel to hit in April.

Can you tell us a little bit about "Empire and Empire's End?"

EMPIRE is set 105 years after a global zombie outbreak. In the transformed world, the survivors include a handful of folks trying to fight the good fight, and more than a few maniacs. Also included is the Grim Reaper, who has gotten tired of the dead’s refusal to stay dead. In EMPIRE’S END, the Reaper’s journey will continue as winter alters the landscape, and he will learn more about his own origin. The zombies, meanwhile, are beginning to realize their own potential, and a crew of undead sideshow performers proves to be among the deadliest “ferals” pursuing the living.

How did you come up with this idea for the Empire series?

While working on a story for a Permuted Press anthology, I thought Death in the flesh would be a fitting nemesis for zombies. I was in the early stages of outlining EMPIRE at the time, and when I decided to plug the Reaper into that story too, it took off.

You have done a book with Eric S. Brown called "Anti-Heroes", can you tell us a bit about the book and how it was to work with Mr. Brown?

Though Eric and I didn’t actually collaborate on any of the tales in ANTI-HEROES, it was our shared love of comics and dark heroes which inspired the book. My novella, “Enslaver of Worlds,” pits a sort of Lovecraftian Hulk against both humans and its alien creators. Eric’s “The Zombie Farm” sees his Agent Death tangle with monstrous forces from the other side. I also wrote a bonus story, “Suicide at Dawn’s Door,” which is about the Devil hunting vampires. It’s a pretty diverse and fun collection.

What was it like working with the publishers you have and where can we find out more information on them?

The publishers I have done the most with are Permuted Press, Library of the Living Dead and Belfire Press. Dark Regions Press also published my first collection, DARK ENTITIES. In all cases I’ve enjoyed working with the staff and have found everyone to be both professional and friendly. They are why I love the small press community. The sites for these publishers are:

Who was responsible for the cover/book designs of your books?

So many great artists! I don’t know who did the cover for the EMPIRE re-release, but the original was by an artist named Michael Brack, and this year for my birthday I bought the original drawing to display in my home. Jodi Lee did UNBOUND and NEVERMORE, Tom Moran did both the cover and interior illustrations for DARK ENTITIES, and Deedee Davies did the amazing cover for ANTI-HEROES. In addition, a lot of fine people like Kody Boye and Scott A. Johnson have given unique touches to the interior designs of books like UNBOUND and ANTI-HEROES.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

I always have fun doing interviews and signings (even though I am always nervous), but the most outrageous times have been with Greg Hall on “The Funky Werepig.” Greg’s a great friend and a hilarious host and is responsible for inflicting the nickname “THE Dunwoody” upon me. I recently paid him back by sending him a werepig-looking bust that I found at the dollar store over Halloween. The lead paint is currently eroding his brain.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

There are a lot of short stories in the hopper which should be appearing soon in various anthologies. I always update my site whenever I have news about one or two that are on the horizon…the novel I’m working on right now is a very personal one which draws from some recent experiences, then adds flesh-eating monsters and things like that. It’s tentatively titled THINGS INSIDE.

Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?

I mainly use to look for markets where my stories might fit. I’m also a big believer in spending a little time on Google reading up on a press. Forums like those at Library of the Living Dead and Permuted Press are very active both in terms of market news and writing help.

Where can people know more about you? is the hub for all my insanity. There everybody can find free stuff, interviews and purchasing links. Maybe another contest if I ever get off my butt.

You can purchase most of David Dunwoody's books on and other online retailers and bookstores near you.

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