Shells Chats with author William R. D. Wood

What made you want to start to write and what are your biggest influences?

The first story I remember writing was when I was about eight. Sure, the story might have superficially resembled a certain episode of Star Trek, but I assure you the similarity was purely coincidental. As far as the why of it, I wish I knew. Perhaps I could harness it, refine it, bend it to my will. I can say, I drove my parents crazy with whys and what ifs. "Why doesn't Steve Austin's arm rip off his shoulder when he lifts the car?" "What would Dorothy do if the Lion ate Toto?" I've always been full of questions and imagined twists. Writing allows me to stop asking and start answering. My biggest influences/inspirations are people who simply will not stop, whether they be my parents, my wife, or writing legends such as Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, King and Barker. The list goes on and on.

Does real life ever impact your writing, as in characters, settings or even plot?

Every time I sit down at the keyboard, whether I'm writing about time travel or zombie apocalypses. I'm an electronics technician by trade so you'll find fixers of various types scattered through my stories. I served in the US Navy for eight years, so there's no shortage of military. I'm a husband and father of four so plenty of ideas come from family situations. I also tend to write my mood, so current events play a major role. As for settings--let me give you an example. We took a cruise recently and during our last night on board, I wandered around with a camera shooting every feature and angle just so I could accurately portray the vessel when the time came to destroy it. On paper, of course. Great, now DHS is going to be breathing down my neck.

You have been in several anthologies, what do you like about the shorter form of a short story?

I have so many ideas and I really enjoy the quick gratification. I can get in, get dirty, and get back out. Then move on to the next. At this point novels scare me. So much time and energy developing a single idea! That is my dream, though.

What has been your favorite short story to write?

I can't say all of them, can I? If I had to pick just one, I'd say the first I actually sat down to with the intention of creating a piece to cast out into the world, a
time travel story called "One One Thousand." I don't remember the original prompt, but I do remember my interpretation was very loose and probably why it was rejected. It did go on to win a contest, receive an honorable mention from the Hubbard people, and land squarely in Northern Frights Publishing's Timelines anthology.

What anthologies have your short stories been in?

Several. Probably best to refer you to my blog and Amazon Author's page—links below. I'm trying to keep them as current as possible.

You are starting a novel soon, what made you wish to go into a longer work and could you share a bit about it?

February 1st, I begin a science fiction-horror novel based loosely on a short story published by Living Dead Press in late 2009. The short is titled "Scrap," but I'll be changing the title for the novel if for no other reason than it contains the word "CRAP." That can't be good for sales. Writing longer works has always been my dream. I wanted to try my hand at short pieces first to see if I could handle those before tackling novel lengths. 80K-plus is pretty daunting. I hope to move primarily into novels soon, but short works will always be a passion. There's just nothing like destroying the world in 10K words or less.

Which genre do you feel more comfortable writing in?

A blend of science fiction and horror. When I set out to write one, the other inevitably creeps in.

What would you suggest to a writer who wanted to try their pen at a different genre they were not used to?

Do it! My first short stories were science fiction. That was my niche and I was going to stick with it. Then I happened to come across a call for submission for a zombie anthology. I love zombie movies, so I thought, why not? Suddenly, I'm writing zombies in space, in the old west, in nursing homes and on children's TV shows…and loving it. In this world of cross-genre writing, expanding your horizons and looking for new twists is definitely the way to go.

Some people have said writing groups have worked for them, others say they don't work. Has writing groups helped you and would you suggest them to writers to help improve their writing?

Writing groups have definitely helped me. Feedback from editors is sparse at best--they just don't have the time--so I find my groups an invaluable resource for spotting my weakness of the day, be it a gaping plot hole or overuse of a particular pet word. Knowing I have an incisive analysis coming pushes me to try a little harder to minimize the scathing (yet loving) commentary. I guess that makes me a praise-junkie. I'm currently involved with three groups.
Pandora's Box is small and personal and these people have all become trusted friends. Then there's the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Lots of members and therefore less personal for the most part, but the reviews are diverse and I've met some great folks there too. The third is the Café Doom Writer's Corner. I was introduced to these finely twisted folks after the Café's Sixth Annual Short Story Competition. My advice is to seek out a group or two. See if they work for you. Everyone is different.

How do you help market your work?

So far, I've been awful at marketing. I've begun to post announcements regarding my work on
Facebook, but I'm one of the quiet ones. I might post a few times a week, but certainly not the multiple times a day many people do. I have resolved to post more, take my blog seriously, give interviews whenever anyone will listen, and pester my local libraries and bookstores. Beyond that, I'm open to suggestions!

What experience could you share with a new writer just starting out?

I still feel like I'm starting out! Advice, though? Wow. The same old tired advice everyone gets. Keep writing. Keep submitting. There are amazing resources out there for matching your work to publishers. Use them. A personal experience? In 2009, after my first few shorts tanked, I dropped back into flash stories, but didn't fare any better with those. An online mag was holding a
flash fiction course, so I signed up with several pieces in tow for critique. One of those pieces was already out on submission. A few weeks later—on the same day—the host magazine decided they wanted to buy the piece. And the other publisher did too. In 2009, I went on to sell a few more. In 2010, about thirty. You've just got to stick with it. And give up sleeping.

Where can people find out more about you?

Right now, I'm a pretty elusive guy, but I'm working on it. The best places to find out about me are:

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