Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The F. Paul Wilson Interview Part Two

This week's entry in the F. Paul Wilson interview sees a discussion of the current state of vampire fiction, the status of the Repairman Jack movie and what on earth went wrong with the film version of The Keep.

The Accidental Author: Not too long ago, I read your eBook Draculas, which you wrote with Crouch, Strand and Kilborn/Konrath. I found it in stark contrast to what seems to be very popular today, which is the “sexy vampire”. Based on what you wrote in Draculas, and also your previous vampire novel, Midnight Mass, your vision of the vampire is decidedly “unsexy”. Why do you think there is such a gravitation towards these glamorized creatures, whether they are vampires, werewolves or witches?

F. Paul Wilson: Well, it started with Anne Rice. Even before that, there was always something seductive about the vampire.

AA: Even with Bram Stoker.

FPW: Yeah, who I referred to as an English author in one of my books, and I've heard about it from Irish readers ever since. I think it was The Keep, come to think of it, where I referred to [Stoker] as “that English writer”.

But, there was always a good amount of eroticism in there. I think it makes it more dramatic, in that [the vampire] isn't just sucking your blood, he's sucking your soul. There's that other level of destruction. And basically, that's what I did in The Keep, where [Molasar] figuaratively sucked out Cuza's soul. It wasn't through sex, though. He seduced [Cuza] by unmooring him from all of his values, leaving him morally and spiritually adrift. It’s a recurring theme in my fiction: Being lured into becoming something less than you are. The seduction occurred, but it happened without romance and without sex. I think it is much more invidious that way.

But clearly, the easy way to achieve that seduction is with sex. And once romance writers grabbed onto the vampire mythology, they're now screwing everybody in sight.

AA: Are you okay with that? I mean, do you begrudge them that?

FPW: Not a bit. They actually kept horror alive through the last decade. So, good for them. But my reaction to that whole thing was Midnight Mass, and that's how I've always pictured vampires. I mean, if you're dead, and your interest is really in blood, then you're not going to shower a lot. And after you've sucked a lot of blood, you're pretty likely going to be a filthy mess. So, I don't see how that can be terribly attractive.

Everybody wants a series these days, so I'm getting emails that ask when I'm going to write the sequel to Midnight Mass. But I don't have one. If I had one, I'd write it, because I really liked working with that type of threat. I came up with the priest being the twilight man, and that was something I could work with. But, I've got so many other things on my plate right now, I just can't do that.

I probably should, to be honest. It would be a good move, career-wise. Since I'm moving away from Jack, it would be a great way to solidify another audience. When I finish writing [The Repairman Jack series], I'm going to lose a certain audience that doesn't necessarily read me, they read Jack. They won't read my medical thrillers. You know, they're just not interested in anything I do that isn't Jack, or that isn't related to The Otherness in some way.

AA: If memory serves me, you mentioned on your website that you recently had a meeting in the seemingly endless string of meetings regarding the Repairman Jack film. Did anything come of that? Is there any exciting news to share on that front?

FPW: It's not new, necessarily, in the sense that I'm always hearing the same thing. I don't like to talk “out of school” so much, because a lot of these things are told to me in confidence. But, they have an A-List director who is interested in doing it, and then, they don't move on it. Or, they're about to move on it, and someone else comes along who is a bigger name, and says “I'm a huge fan of Repairman Jack, and I want to do it.” So they dance with him for a while, and then a while later the music stops with him.

And at some point, you're just sitting there thinking, Come on, just make the movie already.

AA: It seems to me that any studio that could successfully pull it off would have a potential franchise on their hands. You look at the book series like The Harry Potter Series and The Twilight Saga that have been successfully made into really successful franchises...these things have brought in billions of dollars. If this film does well, a studio could have a pretty long and lucrative series on their hands.

FPW: Yeah, well, it would never be as big as Potter. Not even close. But the thing is, if it is a successful money-making movie, they'll do another one. It doesn't necessarily have to have a gross of $250 million, but it has got to make a decent profit. They need the right star; they need a guy who can carry [the role of Jack]. Ryan Reynolds has been interested in it for a long time. I think he would be great. I was at WonderCon and I saw him promoting The Green Lantern. And, it was like The Beatles. But he's a cool cat. He would do a really good job.

Obviously, you have to get a good action director. And we've already got a wonderful script. Chris Morgan did a great script. By the way, there's a video that I'll put in the next newsletter. Chris wrote the new Fast and Furious movie, Fast Five, and the Onion did this parody of a morning show interview with the screenwriter of Fast Five, and it's a five-year-old. And they ask him things like “How do you go about writing these scenes?” and he takes little toy cars and crashes them together and says, “Then they explode!” So, I sent the link to Chris, and he wrote back that he had seen it. But then he said “That's exactly how I pitch these things.” So he's a good sport about it.

The elements are all there [for the Repairman Jack movie]. But all the elements were there for The Keep. We had a hot new director in Michael Mann. We had Ian McKellen, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne and Jurgen Prochnow. And Alberta Watson. We had a great special effects team. We had an award-winning set designer. But then, everybody goes over there and gets coked-up, and the special-effects guy dies. They shoot way over budget, and Paramount says “No. No more money!” Then, [Michael Mann] hands in a three-hour cut of the movie that needs even more funding for more effects. And again, they say “No. Cut that down to an hour and a half, and we're going to release it.” And it was on their “B-list” for publicity. There were a few trailers on TV, and that was about it. They knew it was a turkey.

F. PAUL WILSON is the author of forty-plus books and numerous short stories spanning science fiction, horror, adventure, medical thrillers, and virtually everything between. His novels regularly appear on the New York Times Bestsellers List. He was voted Grand Master by the World Horror Convention and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers of America. He has also received the Stoker Award, the Porgie Award, the Prometheus and Prometheus Hall of Fame Awards, the Pioneer Award from the RT Booklovers Convention, the Inkpot Award from San Diego ComiCon, and is listed in the 50th anniversary edition of Who's Who in America.

Over eight million copies of his books are in print in the US and his work has been translated into twenty-four languages. He also has written for the stage, screen, and interactive media. His latest thrillers, Ground Zero and Fatal Error, star his urban mercenary, Repairman Jack. Jack: Secret Vengeance recently concluded a young-adult trilogy starring a fourteen-year-old Jack. Paul resides at the Jersey Shore and can be found on the Web at

JESSE S. GREEVER is "The Accidental Author" and CEO of eLectio Publishing, a digital publisher for Christian authors.  If you are a Christian author and have a manuscript that you think is worthy of publication, check out the submission guidelines and follow the directions for manuscript submissions.

Greever is also a co-author of the book, Learning to Give in a Getting World, and numerous fiction titles from Untreed Reads publishing.
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  1. FPW has had some bad luck when it comes to getting his stories made into films. I like The Keep, purely for nostalgic reasons, but Midnight Mass and Pelts were not so good. I hope The Tomb/Rakoshi gets its due, but I sincerely hope it's treated with respect.

  2. I loved the book Midnight Mass but I felt like there was still more of the story to be told. (spoiler alert) I thought the idea of a half priest- half vamp- super badass character was really cool. I'd really like a sequel where Father Joe spear heads an attack against the vamps... or he devolves into one of the lesser vamps and someone else takes up the fight. As for a Repairman Jack movie... I think I'd rather see the series adapted to an HBO series or something similar. I'm also a fan of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and its been great watching the HBO interpretation.

  3. @Admin2341: I'm with you...I think that the RJ series would make a KILLER (no pun intended) HBO series, and I think with the right director (NOT Alan Ball), it could be phenomenal.

    @Brian: Clearly, Hollywood has not treated FPW very well so far. Here is my hope: they either make a great Repairman Jack movie, or they leave it alone. I don't think I could bear seeing it butchered.

  4. Working in the entertainment business, it is extremely difficult for everything to come together within a reasonable period of time.

    Unfortunately, the setting of the book has been changed a few times scriptwise and given the need to keep the budget within reason is tough indeed. Every studio is looking for tax credits. I don't know how much the lead would be paid but he has to be someone who can "carry" the film! Given the mindset of studios the film would have to cross the 4 primary quadrants of the audience to ensure a profit.

    The ideal Jack is someone who is nondescript and in his 30's. Certainly Reynolds would work but would he be interested in creating another potential franchise character?

    Hopefully Jack comes to the big screen but I have my doubts

  5. @Annie B: As I mentioned before, I think I would rather see RJ left alone rather than seeing some crappy version brought to the silver screen (or the small screen for that matter).