Scott Sigler is more than a writer: he’s a podcaster, omnipresent internet being and dependable producer of Grade-A nightmare fuel. His fiction, a chimeric creation of science gone wrong, suspense and splatterific horror, has brought him the adoration of a devoted legion of fans that grows bigger everyday. (One need only check out his website forum to witness the intensity of Sigler fandom.) While the rest of us are just catching up with Sigler’s great work, these fans have been with him from the early days when the author was engaged in the then unheard-of practice of podcasting his fiction for free. However, with adoration comes obligation, and Sigler, a genuine cult phenomenon gone big-time, knows that the same people who carried him to success expect the best from him. Based on its trailer, his new book Nocturnal is unlikely to disappoint.
An Interview with Scott Sigler:
Wow. This is a pretty creepy trailer. Who did it, and how much input did you have in the production? Did you worry it would be too shocking?
The trailer was done by artist John Dunivant and animator Kevin Capizzi. I gave them a general sense of what I wanted to see, then let them do their thing. Once they had a mock-up of the trailer from beginning to end (an “animatic,” I’m told), I wrote the voice-over script for Toby Turner. It was pretty collaborative, but John’s illustrations of the monsters from the actual descriptions in the Nocturnal novel were what drove the project.
A lot of your stuff has a cinematic quality to it, and this new book seems no different. Were any movies an influence here or am I completely off?
As a writer, my primary influences are from movies, not books. Stephen King and Jack London are big influences of mine, but so are James Cameron, Zack Snyder, Albert Hitchcock, John McTiernan and others. So, I try to write books with the same pacing and feel as a big-screen summer blockbuster. Because of that, and because of my marketing background, I’ve always been a fan of how a well-done movie trailer can put butts in theater seats. With all four of my book trailers, I’ve been trying to make them as close to a balls-out movie trailer as possible, my limited budget permitting. Nocturnal is just about there, which is probably why its my most-watched book trailer to date.
You obviously love your monsters. What monsters scared the young Scott Sigler? What monsters do now? How does the threat in this book compare to those?
As a little kid, the big monsters scared me: King Kong, Godzilla, and any spider larger than your face. Then I went crazy for the Ray Harryhausen flicks like Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. I loved me some stop-action skeletons! Once in my teens and twenties I was treated to the masterworks of Stan Winston (Aliens, Predator, Pumpkinhead). My favorite movies usually have monsters, although I will gladly sit through even the worst movies if they have a kick-ass monster in it.
The threat in Nocturnal stacks up well. Every monster is unique. In that way this is more Clive Barker than, say, the “horde of monsters” flicks like Mimic or Aliens. I’m drawing heavily from real biology to make the critters in Nocturnal, but also from some great fantasy and monster tropes. The thing that really sets the book apart, however, is that these monsters are intelligent and have their own unique culture — they are not the mindless drones that will follow our protagonists into the thinly veiled booby trap. These monsters watch TV, use cell phones and the internet, they have favorite movies, etc. I think this makes them far more understandable than the gnashing-toothed carnivores like the Aliens, or the monsters in my novel Ancestor.
I’ve been intrigued with the idea of hidden horrors in urban areas, and there are apparently rumors even today about monsters and cannibals in forgotten subway tunnels. Did any urban legends inspire you to write the story?
San Francisco is rife with urban legends about the Chinatown tunnels, and underground complexes in other parts of the city. What’s more, there are tunnel systems from the Civil War dating all the way up through the Cold War. Some of these tunnels had real monsters, the human kind that terrorize, exploit and kill people. So there’s a lot of well-established terror that’s gone down beneath the streets of the City by the Bay. I factored these vibes into Nocturnal, and also drew heavily on the real history of the buried ships that lie beneath San Francisco’s downtown skyscrapers.
People like to describe successful individuals as overnight successes, but real success rarely happens that way. How many years did it take for you to reach a point where you were writing for a living?
Well, I have always wanted to be a writer. I went to college for Journalism, as I knew that would give me ample practice writing every day and hone my chops. From that perspective, it took me seventeen years until I was writing fiction full-time.
You’re like a shark, Scott. You never stop moving. What’s your next project?
We have so many exciting things coming out. IDW Publishing is doing a graphic novelization of Infected, which is out in June. Its drawn by Chad Minshew and looks amazing. My Galactic Football League (GFL) young adult series is coming out in paperback, with the first two books of the series — The Rookie and The Starter — out in bookstores on August 7, 2012. The second two books in the series — The All-Pro and The MVP — hit on December 10. In addition to that, Dark Øverlord Media is putting out eBooks and downloadable audiobooks for many of the stories I’ve podcast over the past seven years. The Crypt: Book One is a novel-length work, Blood is Red and Bones are White are short story collections, and we’re also releasing GFL novellas by Matt Wallace, Nathan Lowell, and Cambell Award-nominated author Mur Lafferty.