Interview with Author Dave Sakmyster

ED- The Eerie Digest is thrilled to interview an author with a novel that is the heart of The Eerie Digest fans. Dave, tell us what influenced you to become an author.

DS- My father,  mostly.  He was and is still an insatiable reader.  He always read to me at bedtime when I was a kid – and usually it was some pretty scary stuff, at least for someone my age.  ‘King of the Cats’- Poe kind of stories, the stuff that gave me nightmares and pissed off my mom…  But it also made me seek out those kinds of stories once I could read, and more than most boys I think I always liked reading comic books, horror, science fiction and fantasy, and at some point I just said, hey – I think I’d like to try this.

ED- As an author what great writers inspired you the most?

DS- So many to mention… H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, James Rollins.  But I have to say, Dan Simmons and Robert McCammon were – and are my favorites.  I’ve always admired how they started with some truly terrifying horror novels, but refused to be shackled to the genre, and instead excelled at whatever they chose to write (although you could still see the telltale fingerprints of their earlier horror skills in the themes and atmosphere of every new work. Say what you want, but for my money, Simmons’ Carrion Comfort was possibly the scariest vampire novel ever written and still one of the greatest horror novels I’ve ever read.  And I re-read McCammon’s Wolf’s Hour and Swan Song every couple of years.

ED- What genres are you most interested in?

DS- I think I’ll always have horror as my first love, but I too enjoy digressing… Lately I’ve gravitated toward historical fiction and thrillers, especially ones involving lots of history, research and archaeological mysteries.  And there again I think my background in horror has helped focus those themes and led to some ‘genre-blending’.

A legendary treasure chamber hidden beneath the ancient Pharos Lighthouse has defied discovery for over two thousand years... Until a reluctant psychic joins a team of remote-viewing archaeologists to fulfill an ancient prophecy and brave the Pharos’ deadly defenses.

DS- I think author Kevin J. Anderson described it more succinctly than I could have: “It’s Indiana Jones meets The X-Files.”  It’s a stand-alone novel, but it’s also book one of a planned series (at least a trilogy) called The Morpheus Initiative. Morpheus was the Greek god of dreams and visions – and as such my characters chose his name for their team of psychics – remote viewers – who can directly see into the past.  They seek out ancient mysteries and try to locate lost treasures and powerful artifacts. Their first mission involves the ancient Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, which was built around 250BC and lasted some fifteen hundred years before finally being toppled by an earthquake.  But beneath the Pharos, the architect was rumored to have hidden the lost treasure of Alexander the Great, locking it away behind mystical codes and diabolical traps.  But while my psychics can sometimes see the past, it’s not always enough to save them.  And there’s another faction, an ancient society called ‘The Keepers’ that’s out there ruthlessly protecting the secret.  This book has a lot of plot twists and revelations as the team chases down leads from visions that take them all over the world.

ED- What is the basis for the theme behind it?

DS- Ten years ago I was in a used book shop and I found an interesting non-fiction book called The Alexandria Project by Stephan A. Schwartz.  I was amazed by the story of this group of amateur psychics who tried to remote view places like Cleopatra’s palace – with some surprising hits.  (Later efforts by students and volunteers in Schwartz’s group even claimed to have close visual clues as to Saddam Hussein’s hiding spot after the war).  I kind of filed that away until years later when I wrote a short story for a magazine that asked for something set in Egypt.  During my research I came across the Pharos Lighthouse, and the more I read about it, discovering the legends about traps and vaults and hidden treasure, I felt there was enough there for a great, suspenseful novel. While brainstorming, I recalled Schwartz’s remote-viewing book – and then it clicked.  Who else could possibly find this treasure, if it existed, except a bunch of history-seeing psychics?

ED- You have written several other novels as well. Please tell our readers about them.

DS- The one I’m most proud of and what I feel is my opus – at least so far – is Silver and Gold. It came out last year, and just recently I learned it was a finalist in Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards for historical fiction.  I had wanted to write a story about a famed gold rush prospector, but it turned into much more – an epic father and son tale of adventure and survival amidst this exciting chapter in American history.  Starting from Sutter’s Mill in California in 1849 and going all the way through the end of the Klondike gold rush and beyond, my heroes are reluctant experts at prospecting, but all the while they try (and heroically fail) to protect the land and the people from the evils of the inevitable forces of exploitation.  It’s got something for everybody: thrilling dogsled races, nasty villains, abominable snowmen, and even a heartbreaking love story thrown in for good measure.

ED- We have learned that you have also written quite a number of short stories (and screenplays) as well. Can you share these with us, and what genres are they in?

DS- Most of my short stories are horror/supernatural ones.  The Red Envelope appeared in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Anthology, vol. XXII. That one was about the cultural practice of ‘ghost marriages’ that still go on in some parts of rural China, where the spirit of a deceased young girl is ceremoniously married off to someone tricked into opening a red envelope.  I put a twist on it that a naïve American falls for the trick and marries her spirit… only to find that her ghost is very much real – and very jealous.  I later turned this story into a screenplay that won some awards and is getting some looks by production companies.  I find a lot of short stories lend themselves to easy adaptation into screenplays.  Another one I did this with was my latest – a short story called Roadside Assistance that just appeared in Horrorworld. It opens with a car crash and a man trapped inside with his dead wife – and a GPS device that begins to torment the hell out of him.  Throw in some creepy police officers and a flashback or two, and there you go.  In the screenplay I expanded it to have the GPS take him to an inescapable town full of even more menacing characters – and leading to a huge psychological twist.

ED- Where can our readers obtain your works?

DS- I’m hoping everywhere – but at least Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Borders.com, in mass market paperback. And of course they can be ordered from your local bookstore if they’re not currently carrying them (tell them to stock me already!)  Links to order my books are also on my website, as are several short stories which can be read for free, so go check everything out at www.sakmyster.com.  I also have a neat blog about Remote Viewing at: www.whatwouldyouview.blogspot.com.

ED- Do you have anything new on the drawing boards for the near future?

DS- I’ve finished writing the sequel to The Pharos Objective (called The Mongol Objective), which has the team pursuing another of archaeology’s greatest mysteries: the location of Genghis Khan’s true resting place – which of course will be full of treasure and even more diabolical traps and villains. I’m starting the third book (no spoilers there yet), but also I’m excited about another novel, a supernatural thriller called Blindspots, about six people afflicted with a bizarre psychological disorder who wind up finding each other – and a possible cure – just as a terrifying killer tracks them down.  My agent is about to send that one out.  And I’m also looking to get back into writing another screenplay.  Got a bunch of ideas.  Busy, busy…

ED- Dave we are really looking forward to hearing more about you and I know our readers will love to read your work. We thank you for your time with us and wish you great success in everything that you do.