Today, I'm interviewing William R. D. Wood, the distinguished author who contributed the short story The Long View to "The Temporal Element." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Mr. Wood.
WOOD: It's a pleasure to be here and, please, just Will.
MTI: Okay, Will. For starters, how about some basic introductory material. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
MTI: Moving on to your writing, tell us, what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
WOOD: Honestly, I can trace it back to when I was just a little boy. My dreams were pretty disturbing and they often woke me. Rather than fade away by morning, though, mine would often stick with me. I would try to explain them to my family and friends, but so often dream logic only makes sense when you're in somno. The urge to tell those dreams was strong. By the time I was old enough to read and write that urge to relate to others what was happening inside my head was strong enough I was sitting in front of the television drawing scenes and writing myself and my friends into the latest Star Trek or Space 1999 rerun. The story had become the thing. Life happens, as it often does, and I stopped writing through my teens and twenties and so forth. Just in the last few years have I picked up the pen and begun telling those tales again. My favorite stories to write are science fiction, usually somewhere out amongst the stars. Throw in a dash of the darkness from those old dreams and—voila!—you have a story.
MTI: Thinking back, what one author has most influenced or inspired you?
WOOD: There are so many. Clark, Heinlein, Chalker, McDevitt, Bear, Gaiman, just to name a few. If I had to pick one, though, Frank Herbert. I read Dune in the 10th grade and I've gauged every book since then by it. So far it still wins. That's the sort of universe I want to create and those are the sort of characters I want to populate it with.
MTI: The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures. These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?
WOOD: I think we will. As difficult as it may be to believe from my body of work, I'm quite the optimist when it comes to humanity and our ability to push forward into places we once thought impossible. Current theories are against time travel, stating even if possible, the energy needed would be near-infinite. Think about it though. If humanity is still around in, say, one million years, what are we going to be like? What will we have achieved? What answers will we know then that we don't even know the questions to now?
MTI: Probable or not, if you could go back to any point in history, when would you visit?
WOOD: Wow. That's a tough one. So many other factors. What kind of gear I could take, would I get to leap geographically as well? How about I pop back to Egypt and find out just how they did build those pesky pyramids?
MTI: Yes, the pyramids would be on my list, as well. Thinking ahead, what one piece of futuristic technology would you like to own, or have for everyday use?
WOOD: Years ago, I would have said matter transmitters but I've started to have doubts about those things. Probably a story in that somewhere. Cell phones are already going mobile-computer on us, so I just need to wait for those to catch up. Any weapons would be just too tempting. I guess I'll go with a Doc-In-The-Box. If you ain't dead yet, it'll keep you that way!
MTI: Back to the subject of your writing; can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
WOOD: I just finished an online class through Odyssey so I'm eager to shine some of what I learned on a few trunk pieces as well as a few pending projects, all short stories. Everything from a science fiction comedy to Lovecraftian horror. In the next few weeks I'll be pushing ahead with my first novel—a promise I've made to myself and others time and again but will actually follow through with this time! I swear. As for right now, tonight, as soon as we're finished here, a steampunk short story is in sore need of an ending.
MTI: Other than The Long View appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories planned for publication in the near future?
WOOD: "House Hunters" will appear in the Use Enough Gun anthology from Emby Press. Use Enough Gun is the third volume in the Monster Hunters series, edited by Miles Boothe. All good stuff. A reprint of my story "Beginning of Days" is included in the Apocalypse Special edition from Morpheus Press as well.
MTI: You seem to have a knack for writing "doomsday" type stories; end of the world stuff. Tell me, what sort of Armageddon scenario do you foresee as being the most likely and logical ending for Planet Earth?
WOOD: I do tend to do that, don't I? There are so many possibilities when you consider just how small and fragile this planet is. One of my favorite doom and gloom mantras around the house is "Get me off of this rock!" With all the little asteroids whizzing around lately, we're bound to take a punch or two sooner or later and Heaven help us if it’s a big one. There's also the possibility of doing ourselves in with rogue nanomachines or GMOs gone wild. The most horrible end, to me, isn't so dramatic. I fear that time is going to trudge ahead and we're not going to get ourselves in gear in time to make it to the stars before we've lost the ability or the drive. That we're going to squander our resources, collapse our ecosystems and slowly wither away, species by species, gene by gene, trapped in our own gravity well. A few billion years are going to pass and the last thing left alive on this ball, as a blood red sun swallows us up, will be microbial extremophiles. Wow. That's pretty grim. I'm really an optimistic guy! I swear. I, personally, think we ARE going to pull it all together in time—that humanity is in this universe for the long haul.
MTI: I share your concern and optimism about humanity reaching for the stars. Really, the Earth is going to die sooner or later, regardless of mankind's actions, and we have to get out there, into space, if we expect to save anything of our species.
Okay, let's try something lighter now. When you have the time, what sort of television programs do you like to watch, if any?
WOOD: Not much television in the Wood household these days and the only thing I watch live is, oddly enough, The Walking Dead. The rest are bygone seasons of series such as, most recently, Fringe, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Game of Thrones, and various History Channel offerings. I've watched every single episode of Big Time Rush too, but only with my seven-year-old daughter, I swear.
MTI: Yes, most of my television viewing is via DVD these days. Have you listened to any good music lately?
WOOD: I'm an audiobook junkie so most of my listening time is spent there and when I'm writing, I usually need silence. On the rare occasions I do listen to music, I'm never disappointed with Carbon Leaf's original work, Vernian Process, Nickelback, and some good old Billy Joel. What can I say, my tastes vary.
MTI: Before we go, do you have anything in particular that you'd like to say to potential readers? Something to spur their interest in your writing, perhaps?
WOOD: I tend to write a blend of science fiction and horror. You'll usually find high stakes, a lot of action and—I hope—a story that makes you think. And, like most writers, I want all the feedback I can get. Love me or hate me, I want to hear from you!
MTI: One last thing; would you be kind enough to share a few fresh paragraphs of fiction with us? The readers would love a free sample.
WOOD: I'd love to. Here's the current opening to a piece I'm calling "The Barefoot Bride."
Why was she always dead?
Nathan stood motionless in one rut of the mountain road, sequoia towering to either side.
Fumbling the satellite phone from his pocket, he pushed and held the number six, praying silently that his best friend hadn't switched numbers or blocked his calls again. He wanted to scream but the thought of his voice echoing through the forest gave him flashbacks of similar echoes in long, poorly lit hallways. A ray of midday sun found a gap in the canopy above and stabbed him in the eye. The twinge in the back of his skull dulled his vision before he could look away.
She was back and that was all that mattered.
The phone rang several times before an angry slur attempted, "Hello.”
"Wade? You were sleeping?"
"Working third shift," said his friend.
Nathan fought the urge to look into the unforgiving sky and directed his gaze at her body not ten yards away resting face down in the bracken and sorrel. "She's back."
"Who is this?" The voice was steadier, clearer, and an octave deeper as he woke.
"She's back again," said Nathan.
"Nathan." His friend spat his name like a curse. "You've been drinking again. Take your meds and leave me alone, okay?"
Nathan's face grew hot. But Wade was right. Amber bottles formed a tiny graveyard by the open door of the Cherokee. All stood in haphazard rows, their decapitated necks canted this way and that. One lay on its side apart from the others, unopened.
"She's back, Wade. I need you—"
"Dude, I'm gonna go now. Don't call back, okay."
"Just come up here so I can show you—"
"Are you up on the trail again? Damn it, Nathan. Do you want to start this up again? Do you want to be locked away again?"
"I've got no one else."
MTI: Certainly a sample to think about! Thank you, Will, for this great interview. It was a genuine pleasure. Those who would like to read more of William R.D. Wood's work can check out Martinus Publishing's Hit of the Month throughout March! And don't forget to pick up a copy of The Temporal Element for more great time travel tales.