Artist of the Month: David Winnick

Sulfur by David Winnick

Winnick's Sulfur CoverTell us about Sulfur. What is the premise of the novel?

Sulfur follows the archangel Michael as he struggles to find answers to some very difficult questions.

Since before time, Michael has been the perfect example of what an angel should be. He is a brave warrior, a leader, a loyal servant and a trusted advisor to the almighty God. After a routine mission on Earth to stop the minions of Hell from obtaining a potential weapon of massive power goes horribly wrong, Michael is left with a plethora of unanswered questions. Seeking the answers to his questions, Michael begins to unravel the web of lies which is the story of Heaven and Hell. As he approaches the truth of matters, Michael’s existence takes a drastic turn. God has seen fit to turn his back on Heaven’s favorite servant. After an eternity of fighting in the name of his God, Michael is rewarded with exile. Thrust from Heaven, never again to see the beautiful realm which sits behind the Pearly Gates, the disgraced angel is forced to roam the Earth for all eternity, pining for what he has lost, or so he thinks. Heaven may not be as far away as it seems. The key to his re-entry may be held by the last being in the universe he would ever wish to speak to: Lucifer. Can Michael trust the words which spill forth from the mouth of the Prince of Lies? Is there truth hidden somewhere behind those cunning eyes and knowing smile, or is Michael simply playing Lucifer’s game?

What was the inspiration for the novel?

I have drawn inspiration from many places for this novel. For most of my life, I have been a huge fan of the angels vs. demons genre. Some of the works which have inspired me include Kevin Smith’s film, Dogma, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s comic series “Preacher” and Steven Brust‘s novel To Reign in Hell. More than anything though, what drove me to write this novel is the rampant hypocrisy I see in modern day religion. It seems that every week, some horrible person is doing some awful thing while hiding behind the words in a Bible or Quran. I do not believe that these books were written in order to allow people carte blanche, yet somehow the words have been misinterpreted for the purposes of bigotry and greed. More than anything, it was the idea put forth by many religious institutions that there is only one way to believe and that all others who do not believe that way are damned to burn in the fires of Hell which drove me.

How long have you been working on it?

I have been working on Sulfur since 2005. I needed a few more things to put in my graduate school application, so I wrote two short stories, “The Package” and “Bounty.” Upon being accepted into grad school at Chapman, I began working on my thesis project. I was working on a spy novel but for some reason, “The Package” kept drawing me back in. I eventually ditched the spy novel and began working on expanding the short. When the book is released, people will find a very revised and changed version of “The Package” as the first chapter of the book. At the moment, I am still working on the book in terms of small edits to get it completely ready for publication. I guess the short answer would be close to nine years.

What is your writing process?

My writing process is fairly simple. I do a considerable amount of mental planning so that when I sit down at my computer, I am ready to go. Once I do begin typing, I force myself to write a minimum of 1,000 words and a maximum of 2,000 words in a single sitting. I find that fewer than 1,000 means I am just getting warmed up, at over 2,000 I start to get sloppy. I tend to run the news in the background. From time to time, a story will show up which will make its way into the writing.

Could you share how you went about the publishing process?

I got a lot of rejections. I did the usual submit and hope method. This amounts to a pile of rejection letters sitting in a dresser drawer. When I started shopping Sulfur around, the original manuscript length was 65,000 words. The problem is that most publishers require a minimum of 80,000 for consideration. I rewrote the book to include an additional 20,000 words, and shopped it around. When I submitted Sulfur version 2.0 to Charles River Press, it got rejected. I received a lovely letter from the owner, Jon Womack, stating that the book read like a 70,000 word novel with 15,000 extra words. When I informed him of the original manuscript, he was kind enough to allow me to resubmit. About a month later, a contract was signed, and we were on our way.

What’s next for you in terms of your creative work?

At the moment, I am trying to find a home for a collection of short stories and two more novels (one of which is the spy novel I mentioned earlier). I am also working on my fourth novel, which is a superhero book. In terms of Sulfur, I am in the process of working on final edits. I am keeping everyone posted about the process, readings, signings and all kinds of other things on the book’s new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sulfurbook?ref=hl

WinnickDavid Winnick is a strange fellow. Although he was born and raised in Orange County, California, he knew at a young age that he would never have a tan. His pale complexion forced him to hide from the burning sun and while away the daylight hours under stacks of novels and comic books. While attending UC Irvine, David allowed his penchant for reading to draw him away from his study of chemistry. In 2005, David graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in English Literature. After a year away from school, David returned to academia as a graduate student at Chapman University. While there, he studied both English literature and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with both an M.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in creative writing.

David’s professional writing career began in 2005 when he started working as a freelance writer for Wizard Magazine. In 2010, he began work as a contributing writer with Comic Book Resources and in 2012 he started writing for the Quirk Books Blog. David’s first ever piece of published fiction was 2011’s “Heart of Glass.”

Currently, David works as an adjunct instructor at Chapman University and continues to write as a freelancer. He continues to toil away at his fiction as much as possible. Some have been lucky enough to see David in his natural habitat. Only two people have lost fingers because they ignored the sign which says, “Do not feed writer. He bites.”

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