F. Paul Wilson will be appearing at the Love Is Murder Conference, Feb. 4-6, in Chicago.
1. Paul, you’ve said you don’t believe in gore on the page. You prefer to make the gross/horrific stuff happen in the reader’s head. Would you tell us more about that and why it works so well?
I tend to go by the maxim that less, if done properly, is more. I’ve been through med school and a rotating internship that included surgery. I’ve dissected a human body and I’ve been up to my wrists in blood in someone’s open abdomen. Blood and gore don’t get to me. I’m more disturbed by what I don’t see.
Remember the little girl in The Leopard Man banging on the door to her house to be let in because something was following her? Remember how you thought she’d get safely inside, but she didn’t? Remember how she screamed and went silent? Remember the blood flowing under the door?
I do. And in my mind I saw worse things happening than Jacques Tourneur could ever have shown on the screen. I first saw that scene in the 1950s and I still haven’t forgotten it.
Consider this scene from FATAL ERROR, the most recent Repairman Jack novel: I’ve got a bad guy tied up in a van. He has info he’s not giving up. It’s an improvised situation. The person who’s going to get that info arrives with a paper bag labeled “Ace Hardware,” gets in the van, and closes the door. I don’t need to take you into the van for the details. The Ace Hardware bag is unsettling, but what’s really chilling about the scene is that the person with the bag is an ordinary housewife whose little boy was seriously hurt by this man. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned … but a scorned woman’s fury can’t hold a candle to that of the mother of a brutalized child. No, you do not want to be in that van.
2. You often write lean. How does one go about learning to write lean? What are the advantages of it? Is it simply your voice or is it a style you prefer?
I let the story choose the style. Lean and mean is good for the Repairman Jack novels