Monday 12 September 2022

Interview with David Kempf - By Jon Donnis

So this is lucky Number 13?

Yes, Jon, it is. Counting all the plays and the kids' books plus the novels...this is my 13th book. 

Starting with Dark Fiction all those years ago, this is my 13th book. The Wager of Sin is the sequel to Dark Fiction and Damned Fiction. It is the conclusion of the trilogy. Although it does have the character of Andrew from Travel Bug who is somewhat loosely based on my son Andrew. It also has Christopher from Dark Fiction and Damned Fiction.

And of course, Dr. Henry David Wells. 

Yes, of course. He is my most heavily used character. He is a professor, a writer, has lived an unnaturally long life, and holds many deep, dark secrets. He is a mystery that is gradually solved over the course of every book and this one is no exception I promise you. The first one (Dark Fiction) was about his Faustian deal with the Jinn. The second book (Damned Fiction) was about his competition (with his former student Sarah Nolan) to write the Devil's life story. This one continues the tale of the last story but it also concludes the trilogy. 

That is some title. 

Coming from Romans 6:23 in the Bible, "the wages of sin is death," I think it was an interesting play on words for their competition to write the Devil's life story. The story gives the full meaning of the title at the conclusion. 

Sounds like a twist. 

Yes, and I consider it the best twist ending to a novel or short story that I have ever written. 

Is the character of Satan as important in this one?

No, it is actually much more about the inner minds and souls of our competitors Dr. Wells and Sarah Nolan. The short stories featured in the novel also reflect what is going on in our world now. The relationship problems between men and women, economic uncertainty, freedom of speech, and the way horror films have deteriorated into the masked boogieman who, of course, has nothing to do with us.

Does this book feature more or less humor than Damned Fiction?

Less humor and more pure horror to speak of. It feeds off exhilaration and terror as Ray Bradbury might have said once. My last novel They Laughed at Me was very dark but filled to the brim with humor because it was about a comedian on house arrest. The horror within these pages is more about the human condition than the supernatural elements of some of my other stories. It would be like a haunted house story but one that was more concerned with haunted people than what invisible forces occupy the house itself. 

I assume there are still supernatural elements within the story.

Oh, yes, sinister forces are at work indeed. 

Do you have a favorite blurb?

"Two writers vie to tell the Devil's story. One pens the tale, the other dies horribly. The writer who dies is the lucky one."

— Gary Raisor, author of The Old Black Hat and Occupational Hazzard 

That's a good blurb.

Your blurb is also my favorite.  

"With The Wager of Sin, David completes his trilogy with a remarkable twist ending worthy of Psycho and The Twilight Zone."

— Jon Donnis, Editor Masters of Horror U.K. 

Speaking of humor. We never did an interview for your novel They Laughed at Me.

Well, that was a fun book to write. It was a novel that concentrated on humor, but is a dark sort of gallows humor. It was a story about an alcoholic comedian on house arrest. He snuck out of his apartment to do his comedy routines even when he was on house arrest. Jack Lively the main character was featured briefly in my novel Damned Fiction but They Laughed at Me is a prequel and he is in every conceivable way the center of attention here. It was very cathartic to me and I quit drinking myself around this time. And, of course, Dr. Wells has a little cameo in it as he does in almost all of my books. 

Finally getting a review from Kirkus was nice, and thank goodness it was a good one.

Tell us about Four Murder Mystery Plays and your interview with NBC Radio's House of Mystery

Well, I am a huge fan of Ira Levin's DeathTrap and Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. It's no secret what a huge fan I am of Edgar Allan Poe so the detective character in the play is a distant relative of Dupin. Poe is, after all, the father of the modern detective story. That way I could put some gothic horror moments in the four stories, they are all different one-act plays but all feature that one character. Andre Dupin is sort of my theatrical equivalent of Dr. Henry David Wells in my novels of fiction. The amazing thing is that people who are actually in rehab have been enjoying reading these plays in group and that means a lot to me since all four stories deal with addiction in some form. The plays have received mostly positive reviews but the best I have done in play competitions is winning semi-finalists. My friend Jeffrey Oliver helped me get connected to Al Warren and David North Martino to be on their radio show NBC's House of Mystery. It was a great experience to talk about my plays as well as my favorite authors, and of course my own novels.

A sense of accomplishment. 

Yes. In concluding the trilogy, there is a great sense of accomplishment. 

Your book covers are getting more and more amazing. Why is that?

My cousin Heather started a publishing company called Graylyn Press. She does book covers and editing. She's also a writer. She wrote a murder mystery trilogy called The Element Mysteries. They are Element of Secrecy, Element of Danger, and Element of Truth. You actually interviewed her and it is on this site. I love the cover she did for this new novel. 

What's next?

Well, I've worked with some wonderful people like you, Jon. I already mentioned my cousin Heather who is a great editor and collaborator.  My other editors have been wonderful as well—A.L.Sirois, a wonderful writer as well, Erin Potter, a great talent, and the playwright Colette Freedman who helped me write four plays I am quite pleased with. 

Ultimately, this trilogy and my other work have been the fulfillment of a dream to tell the best stories about the human condition that I could. I loved horror books and movies as a kid and when my number is up someday, I am happy to say that I did it. I told the best stories that I could. In the meantime, I will be working on a box set of my trilogy with Graylyn Press. Other than that, we will just have to see. I go wherever my imagination and my muse guide me.

Get The Wager of Sin Kindle Edition by David Kemp at the link below.