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Interview : Douglas Clegg

Douglas Clegg is the author of many horror and dark fantasy novels, several having landed on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

His new book, Isis, is a great read that will simultaneously give you the creeps and tug at your heart strings. Isis not only has its own website, but also a fun game to play as well. Yes, I have played it and the illustrations are beautiful.

Douglas Clegg is a true renaissance man with many other talents besides writing. You can find out all about Douglas on his web site.

Not only is Douglas Clegg a brilliant writer, but one of the things I admire most about him is the fact that he makes himself extremely accessible to his fans. Not many New York Times Bestselling authors can boast of such a thing. He is a gracious man, the kind of person you would like to have over to chat over tea and a couple of scones.

So my fiendish followers, after reading this interview I suggest you visit Douglas Clegg's links, and go out and pick yourself up a copy of Isis.
    Lili's Lair: How did you happen upon the realization that you wanted to become a writer?

    Douglas Clegg: When I was eight years old, a pet mockingbird died. I felt terrible and drew the bird over and over again. My mother sat me down with a little typewriter and said, "Write a story about it." I did. I learned to type at the same time. After that, I just wrote story after story after story -- and I've never stopped. Before writing, I told stories -- mainly ghost stories -- to friends. Sometimes, I made up tall tales about life. My mother was very wise to get me typing them out.

    Lili's Lair: Was there anyone whom you admired that you feel inspired you?

    Douglas Clegg: Any writer whose work I've loved has inspired me, but no one in particular. Studying literature in high school and college helped a lot -- because teachers nudged me toward a wider view of the world through reading.

    Lili's Lair: Why horror/suspense?

    Douglas Clegg: Because I enjoy it, and my imagination tends toward the fantastic -- I love supernatural stories more than any other kind.

    Lili's Lair: Is there any other genre you would like to write?

    Douglas Clegg: If there are, I'll find out when a story occurs. I don't limit myself to a genre, but I do write what I feel a story requires.

    Lili's Lair: Where do you get your stories ideas from?

    Douglas Clegg: Life, mixed with the internal combustion of imagination. Everything I've written is pretty close to an observation or experience, but then exploded through imagination and a dramatic exaggeration in order to find the truth of the actual experience -- through playing it out in fiction.

    Lili's Lair
    : The characters in your stories are very intense. Where do you draw your inspiration from when creating such multidimensional characters?

    Douglas Clegg: Again, life. I spend my life observing and dissecting human nature, and I hope I bring it into my stories. I usually can't write a story until I actually see the character I've created in my mind as if he or she is a real person.

    Lili's Lair: How did the idea form for creating a game to coincide with your new book Isis?

    Douglas Clegg: I wish I could claim credit for that. My friend Matthew Schwartz of and I were talking one day. He had seen the early illustrations for the book and suggested the game. He put me in touch with Adam Schroeder, who made and distributed the game. Then, my publisher saw the possibilities in it, so it was a go. As of today, the game has been played 1.8 million times by more than 1.6 million people.

    Lili's Lair: Can you tell us about your new book Isis. The concept, creation, illustrations and such?

    Douglas Clegg: Glenn Chadbourne, who has illustrated for Stephen King, among others, created all the interior illustrations as well as the cover art. He is a master -- all of the art is pen-and-ink and reminds me of a cross between Edward Gorey and John Tenniel (who created the most famous of the Alice in Wonderland illustrations.) But Glenn's signature style is here -- no one has created art quite this stunning for a gothic tale. Regarding the conception, it came from life, of course. I've lost people I've loved in life through death and other means, and I began to think about wishing them back to life. It seemed very Victorian to contemplate bringing someone back to life -- from Poe to W.W. Jacobs to the gothic novels themselves... so I knew that Isis would live at the end of the 19th century. Since Cornwall is among my favorite places on earth, it's beauty seemed a fitting place for such a dark tale. Here's the brief encapsulation of Isis's story: From childhood until her sixteenth year, Iris Villiers wandered the stone-hedged gardens and the steep cliffs along the coast of Cornwall near her ancestral home. Surrounded by the stern judgments of her grandfather—the Gray Minister—and the taunts of her cruel governess, Iris finds solace in her beloved older brother who has always protected her. But when a tragic accident occurs from the ledge of an open window, Iris discovers that she possesses the ability to speak to the dead... Be careful what you wish for… it just may find you.

    Lili's Lair: Do you feel growing up in New England influenced your writing?

    Douglas Clegg: I didn't grow up in New England, but I did spend a good part of my childhood there in a formative way and I live there now. I grew up in the South, and have lived in California, Connecticut, Virginia, and even Hawaii. I also traveled to Europe and Mexico a bit when I was young, and all of these places have influenced my writing.

    Lili's Lair: What's next, now that Isis is out?

    Douglas Clegg: My next book comes out in April. It's a southern gothic tale of childhood games and family secrets -- two of my favorite themes. It's called Neverland.
Check out Douglas Clegg on the web:

Douglas Clegg
Isis Game