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Interview with D. L. Wilson

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D. L. Wilson

D. L. Wilson

How did the story for your novel, UNHOLY GRAIL, develop?Unholy Grail

In 1996 I read the non-fiction book, HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL, and found many of the concepts and philosophies to be fascinating, but very difficult to accept at face value. I then read a broad spectrum of 28 books relating to doctrine, legends, myths, and conspiracy theories concerning the evolution of Christianity. I found that the more I read, the more confused I became in trying to separate myth from reality. My wife and I took a trip to the South of France to research some of the main concepts presented in HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL. We visited Marseille and Carcassonne and ended up in Rennes-le-Château high in the Pyrenees, a key location for many of the concepts presented in HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL. We found Rennes-le-Chateau to be a very popular European vacation spot because of its key role in many myths and conspiracy theories. The visit to this fascinating tiny village on the top of a mountain in the Pyrenees resulted in a wealth of material that evolved into the plot concept for UNHOLY GRAIL.

So which came first, UNHOLY GRAIL, or that other “code” thing?

A number of years before that “code” novel was published, I had developed my plot for UNHOLY GRAIL and completed half of the novel. I was then asked to co-write a university textbook, APPAREL MERCHANDISING—The Line Starts Here, and consult to the government of Thailand to help them compete in the world of fashion/apparel manufacturing. By the time I was able to get back to my passion for writing fiction, the “code” book was published. I found it to be a fascinating read and fortunately the concept and characters were quite different from my novel. The downside was that the “code” novel set off an explosion of religious thrillers. By the time UNHOLY GRAIL was finished and I went through the trials and tribulations of a first-time novelist in finding a good agency to represent me, there were a host of religious thrillers coming onto the market from very successful best-selling authors. Thankfully, after a short period of rejections of a “well-written, fascinating novel,” another religious thriller hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list and three publishers who had rejected UNHOLY GRAIL expressed a renewed interest and I finally succeeded in becoming a published author.

You say you’re interested in many faith traditions. Did you find yourself having sympathy for the Catholic priest who is the central character in UNHOLY GRAIL?

During my university years, I was president of the University Religious Association, which gave me insight into a broad range of faith traditions. Since I had decided to utilize a Jesuit priest who was a professor at Fordham University as my protagonist, I did research into the Jesuit lifestyle by participating in Jesuit retreats, interviewing Jesuit priests, and interviewing a Jesuit professor at Fordham University. I was fortunate in that some of my interviews resulted in my gaining insight into the lifestyle and personal commitment required of my central character. These intimate discussions resulted in an enhanced sympathy for my protagonist, Fr. Joseph Romano and the ability to enter into his complex mindset.

Would you say there are any themes of redemption in UNHOLY GRAIL?

Redemption involves an intimate understanding of what defines various religious and personal codes. I tried to write UNHOLY GRAIL as a work of “fiction with content.” My effort was to include insight into the complex doctrines, myths, and changing philosophies that effect all religions. UNHOLY GRAIL delves into how historical perceptions, personal events, conspiracy theories, and faith shape how we choose to live our lives. The goal was to use a fast-paced thriller to trigger reader interests into taking a broader look into their personal religious beliefs and therefore hopefully inspire efforts at redemption.

Who are your favorite characters?

That’s like asking a parent who are their favorite children. UNHOLY GRAIL allowed me to create a broad spectrum of characters from priests, defrocked priests, professors, graduate students, law enforcement officers, international kooks, and dysfunctional families to evil, devious, power mongers. One thing I learned from novel writing is that an author must create an intimate personal relationship with each character. During the writing of my novel, each character became my favorite.

What were your favorite moments promoting UNHOLY GRAIL?

Book signings where people who have read my novel came to buy signed copies for their friends or family are right up there at the top of my list. Their enthusiastic questions concerning details that fascinated them about UNHOLY GRAIL gave me great satisfaction in having produced a novel that provided an exciting reading experience. Another great moment was being the keynote luncheon speaker at the 2008 Pennwriters annual conference. Sharing my experiences in creating a novel that has been translated into five foreign languages with a huge audience of interested writers was a highlight for this debut author.

What are you working on now?

I just finished my second thriller, a bio-terrorism novel that delves into the very real threat the world faces today—bioweapons. Technology has advanced to the point where terrorists are able to create horrendous new weapons with equipment and materials that are very difficult to monitor or control. The novel is tentatively titled SIROCCO.

How was working on your second novel different than working on your first?

Like anything in life, the second time around is supposed to be much easier. Writing a second novel had the benefit of being aware of the pitfalls that were encountered in writing my first novel and having a better handle on keeping to a timetable. My first novel took almost four years. A great part of that time was involved in a tremendous amount of research that never saw the light of day on the novel. It’s a matter of determining what research information can enhance the novel and where I am traveling down a long, dark road leading to nowhere. When I wrote my university textbook, a lot of detailed, critical research was necessary to achieve the goal of teaching a principle or a process. In a novel, the research is only needed to add spice or credibility to a plot element or character. The challenging part of writing a second novel is raising the bar on the quality of your work and trying to create a more exciting and enjoyable experience for your readers.

Do you have any links or tips you’d like to share?

I recommend writers use two computer monitors. One for writing, and the other for your research materials using a good search engine. I use a program called Info Select, which incorporates a search engine called Tornado that can search your files in an instant to find a word or phrase. While I’m writing my novel, I can move the cursor to the second monitor and look up my research materials. I’ve also gotten hooked on the Website http://en.wikipedia.org which is very extensive and reasonably accurate. You can find more info on D.L. Wilson and my writing life at http://dlwilsonbooks.com.

Thank-you, D. L., for taking the time to answer these questions!

Sharon Linnéa 
Jaime's World 


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