David Neilsen is a classically trained actor/storyteller, a journalist, and a theater/improvisation teacher for children and adults. During the Halloween season, David can be found telling spooky tales to audiences of all ages, or performing one of his one-man shows based on the stories of horror author H.P. Lovecraft. David lives in New York with his family. Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is his first novel. Visit him at neilsenparty.wordpress.com.
My inspiration for writing Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom was a black and white illustration by the children’s illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. I have already gone into great detail about this earlier in the blog tour, and you can read all about that particular image and its profound effect on me in my guest post on Books4YourKids.com.
When it comes to my writing inspirations in general, however, it’s difficult to point to any one author or specific work. Everything I read has the potential to seep into my subconscious and take up residence, only to jump onto the page when I least expect it. That being said, there are two authors whose work has most definitely had a lasting impact on my own.
The first is the gloriously-imaginative Roald Dahl. His odd, no-holds-barred work has always inspired me to stretch myself. Charlie and Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Witches–every one of his books for children features his special brand of loonyness. They claim to exist in our world, but the characters don’t quite behave properly, things don’t quite make perfect sense, the laws of physics are not quite absolute.
And then there are his stories for adults. Dahl wrote a large number of truly gruesome tales that are fun to devour on a dark night by the beam of a flashlight. The Man From The South, The Landlady, Skin–these are masterful works of horror that retain Dahl’s signature quirkiness. Reading them, I’m inspired to push the boundaries of what is expected in a children’s book. His work has given me license to be a little bit stranger, a little bit creepier, a little bit darker.
If writers are supposed to write what they know, then my second inspiration must have had a seriously messed-up life. Nearly 100 years ago, H.P. Lovecraft wrote what has come to be known as Weird Fiction–a monstrous hybrid of horror and science fiction that is most famous for featuring monsters and Gods sporting multiple tentacles. I ran into Lovecraft’s work more or less by accident while searching for a short story that took place in a graveyard. When I came upon The Statement of Randolph Carter, I was hooked. It quickly became one of my life’s ambitions (I have many) to write a proper work of Lovecraftian fiction.
The truth is, most people get Lovecraft wrong. They equate Lovecraft with tentacles and fungus and insanity and creatures from alternate realities sucking out the souls of the unfortunate. It’s an honest mistake, as a lot of Lovecraft’s writing includes tentacles, fungus, insanity, and/or soul-sucking monsters from beyond time and space. But for me, what sets the work apart is the underlying theme of Forbidden Knowledge. There are things we are not meant to know, and when we dare try to peek past the veil of reality, we generally make things worse. As bad as you think it is, the truth of what really going on is even worse. We would do well to enjoy our ignorance and let the true Gods go about their business, fingers crossed that when they choose to destroy mankind, we’re one of the last to go.
There is an element of that sinister knowledge in my book. It’s my little way of squeezing Lovecraftian nightmares into a book for children.
We hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for David Neilsen’s Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom! In case you missed yesterday’s post, head over to Reader Girls to check it out. The tour continues tomorrow on Cracking the Cover.