INTERVIEW: David Wellington, Author of the SciFi Thriller THE HYDRA PROTOCOL

David Wellington is an author of horror, fantasy, and thriller novels. His zombie novels Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet (Thunder’s Mouth Press) form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including Thirteen Bullets, Ninety-Nine Coffins, Vampire Zero, Twenty-Three Hours, and 32 Fangs. His werewolf series comprises Frostbite” and “Overwinter, known in the UK as “Cursed and Ravaged. In 2004 he began serializing his horror fiction online, posting short chapters of a novel three times a week on a friend’s blog. Response to the project was so great that in 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press approached Mr. Wellington about publishing “Monster Island as a print book. His novels have been featured in Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and the New York Times.

David kindly answered a few of my questions about his new book, The Hydra Protocol (Jim Chapel)!


Kristin Centorcelli: David, congrats on your new book, THE HYDRA PROTOCOL! Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

David Wellington: Oh, man, yeah. Since I was six years old. Basically when I started reading books, my initial reaction was “I can do better than this.” I was wrong, but it took me years to find out why, and more years to figure out how to come close. Hi! I’m David Wellington. I’m a novelist. I wrote a bunch of horror novels and now I’m working on a thriller series, with a science fiction kind of angle on it.

KC: THE HYDRA PROTOCOL is the newest book in your Jim Chapel series. Will you tell us a bit more about it?

DW: Jim Chapel is a veteran from the war in Afghanistan. He’s a special forces guy who got wounded—badly—and thought the war was over for him. Instead, his boss at the Pentagon sends him out into the field to clean up the nasty, toxic stuff left behind by the end of the Cold War. This time he travels from the Caribbean to the deserts of Kazakhstan to the wilds of Siberia to fight a rogue supercomputer. He gets to work with a sexy Russian spy, too, so there’s that.

KC: What kind of research have you done for this series, and what have you enjoyed most about writing it?

DW: I always do about ten times as much research as actually shows up in the finished books. This time it was a lot—a lot—of research on the former Soviet Union. I started to realize—and this is the fun part—that most of what was written about the Soviets, back during the Cold War, was pure propaganda. It was a kind of dark fantasy version of the place that reads almost like dystopian post-apocalypse stuff. The reality was far stranger, but the fantasies the CIA and the Better Dead than Red crowd put out was more fun, so I kind of went with the fantasies.

KC: You’ve worn many hats in your writing (thrillers, horror, fantasy). Do you have a favorite, genre-wise?

DW: I don’t like the idea of genres at all, really. I think they’re really limiting. I’ve always had the philosophy that if I can think of a good idea for a story I should just write it, regardless of which genre it fits into. Any really good story ought to push the boundaries of its genre, right?

KC: What authors have influenced you the most in your writing, and what are a few of your favorite books?

DW: I was hugely influenced by Iain M. Banks, who the world recently lost. It was his book Against a Dark Background (an all time favorite of mine) that convinced me it was okay to write adventuresome fiction. That it wasn’t a crime to want to entertain people! Believe it or not, when you get a classical writing education in these times—I mean, when you go for an MFA in creative writing or something—you get this idea beaten into you, over and over, that books shouldn’t be fun. That they should be hard work both for the writer and the reader. That’s nonsense. I mean, they’re always going to be excruciating for the writer, but the reader should enjoy the finished product or why should they read it at all?

KC: What are you currently reading?

DW: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, The Revolutions by Felix Gilman, and Fighting the Flying Circus, the memoir of a World War I fighter ace.

KC: When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

DW: I’ll let you know when I’m done with all of these emails, social media posts, side projects, and research I have to do. Oh, okay. I like to play board games and drink beer.

KC: What’s next for you?

DW: I have a bunch of books under contract, still. Some really fun projects coming up. Right now I’m working on a science fiction novel, but that’s just in my spare time.