Interview with David Aboulafia

What's the story behind your latest book?
"My hands feel peculiar. I attempt to lift them from the steering wheel and find there is an odd adhesion; they yield with an audible smack. I take my eyes off the road for a moment.

I look down.

Blood. My hands are covered in blood.

The clock ticks again. It is 5:54 a.m.

Oh yes; I remember now…

In four minutes, I will be dead."

So begins "Visions Through a Glass, Darkly," my attempt to create something completely different in the genre of psychological suspense.

This is unusual, complex literary fiction and designed to be unconventional. In all honesty, it should carry a warning label. The novel starts slowly, lulling you with back story then grabbing you by the throat. It may disappoint an impatient reader looking for a quick fix or a formulaic approach. At times, the story line may seem to be just a background for the real tale: the horror in the mind of the main character, Richard Goodman.

But there is a story, of course, and it centers on Mr. Goodman, an administrator for a school that instructs disabled people in the art of watchmaking. There is a stark glimpse not only into the Lilliputian world of the watchmaker, but also into the lives of people with physical disabilities.

Goodman can be described as a psychic being driven mad by his own inimitable gifts over which he has no control. Demons come to him at night and invade his nightmares. The dead may stop over to pay him a visit at any time, but each time conveying a message that something or someone believes he must hear.

But Goodman is to acquire one more unique ability, along with a terrifying prophecy delivered by a Coney Island fortune teller that he has less than three days to live. As the clock of his life counts down, a still greater threat emerges: An uncanny assassin who will destroy everyone he knows and loves. Unless he can discover who the killer is. And stop him in time.

Richard Goodman is a conflicted character, as so many of the characters in this novel are. He is tortured not only by the result of his unique abilities, but by the memory of an event that occurred when he was nine, and by his failure to reconcile with a father who committed suicide. He believes his life is a runaway freight train he is not in control of. But at the same time he holds out hope. A part of him believes that he can control his destiny and that a higher power may be watching over him.

Ultimately, Visions Through a Glass, Darkly is a parable with intense philosophies to relate. Nonetheless, I don’t suggest all the answers, and as to many things, I leave a blank space for the readers to fill in for themselves. As such, this novel may mean different things to different people and it was intended to be perceived that way.

It was my wish that some of this would scare just about anyone and that I might write words capable of bringing the hardest hearts to tears. By writing Visions I tried to convey what, to me, is the essence, the center, the core of true horror: To be alone.

I hope you find that Visions contains a passage or two like nothing you’ve ever read. I hope you find that some of it is beautifully written. I believe in the power of ideas and of words and I will try to make them beautiful when I can. Maybe this is because I also believe that their power to reach us lies in their beauty.

One more thing… As to the ending of this novel – as you may find in the ones to follow – nothing is as it appears to be.
What are you working on next?
In stark contrast to "Visions Through a Glass, Darkly," I have written a collection of comedic, uplifting essays entitled "Snapshots From My Uneventful Life." The sequel to Snapshots - "MORE Snapshots From My Uneventful Life" - has just been completed.

From here on in, all you will probably see from me is terror and suspense of the psychological variety. I am working on four projects simultaneously, and I switch from one to the other as the mood suits me: Here's what's on the drawing board:

The sequel to Visions (AGAIN, DARK VISIONS) is halfway completed. It contains one of the most startling and disturbing endings you will ever read, I think.

TEXT MESSAGE should be completed in 2016. Three people in three cities are stalked by a killer who telegraphs his intentions with the same five-word text message. They are all linked by a dream they share and a terrifying event they experienced years ago.

COLD STORAGE concerns a rip in time and space located in a walk-in freezer in a NYC hospital. It is loosely based on the demised St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. This is a new project.

HEARTBREAK HOTEL is directly related to Cold Storage because it takes place in a hotel directly down the street from the hospital the setting for the latter novel. Based on the Hotel Albert in New York, Heartbreak is a story about redemption, but like all of my novels, it is not what it first appears to be. This one is taking off and it's going to be a great one.

Because I have only one horror novel under my belt, I have the opportunity to do something unique: Characters and places from each book will appear in subsequent novels. All of my books will be linked together in some way, until it appears that I've written only one; one continuous story that never ends.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was raised in the Bronx in New York City and went to the High School of Music & Art in Harlem, New York. These fairly "rough and tumble" locations were in stark contrast to the small towns in upstate New York that I lived in later on in my life. These places influenced me as a person and, thus, they influenced how I write and what I write.

Particularly because I was a small guy, going to school each day was an adventure, because it was always dangerous to do so. You had to be aware of your surroundings, suspicious by nature and street-wise in every way. There was always an element of fear in my life, and I had to learn to deal with it and ultimately conquer it, else it would destroy me.

I began to study fear, by studying myself, and by observing people. I began to understand its nature and where it comes from, and that it is largely a product of our own minds. I began to become fascinated with the concept of "perception," or how we process information, how we form our beliefs, and why we act. I learned to largely eliminate fear from my life, but I learned more than that. I learned there are two central questions in our lives, and they are these: Why are we the way we are? How can we get from where we are, to where we wish to be? I began to believe that the idea of perception was linked to the concept of change. These questions began to dominate my reading and writing habits, and they are prevalent in my novel, Visions Through A Glass, Darkly."

Of course, living in the country and living in the city are two different things. In the city you are never really alone, but in the woods and the mountains solitude dominates. These are not just two different lifestyles, but two different ways of looking at the world and ourselves. But fear is not something outside of ourselves. You take it with you, wherever you go, and danger can be found as easily on the top of a cliff as it can on the dark streets of the inner city.

There is more to be said here, of course, but suffice it to say that my tales of terror are not just designed to terrify you. They are designed to make you think and, perhaps to change you. But never think that I provide all the answers to the questions that I pose. And don't look for me to spell everything out, either. Everything I write, I try to make a bit different than anything you've ever read. I try to use the lessons of my youth to touch your heart, and your mind.
What do your fans mean to you?
There are strange, deep ideas and thoughts banging against the walls of my brain. The life of a writer can be a life of loneliness and solitude, and I wrestle with these things all by myself. I have been trying to answer certain questions I have about this world, about you, and about myself for half a century. I think I have come to some answers and I need to share them. I need you to know what I know. I need you to ask the questions I am still asking myself.

I never know if anything I write will be accepted, or understood, or appreciated. Hell, I know when my writing pleases me, but I never can tell if it will please anyone else. But when one of - just one you - GETS IT - if you know what I mean, it tells me that I have accomplished something. Perhaps I have not only entertained you. Perhaps I have changed you. Maybe I have helped you look at this world and your place in it in a way no one has before. If I have, I have changed the way that you perceive.

If I can do this, I can change the whole world for the better. This is all I ever really wanted to do. Only my fans - such that you may exist - can help me realize this.
Published 2016-03-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Visions Through A Glass, Darkly
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 87,550. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
"A taut novel of suspense with a thread of the supernatural, Visions Through a Glass, Darkly seizes the reader's attention and will not let go. Lurking underneath the saga of a psychic's imminent mortality and the threat of a ruthless murderer are deeper thematic questions about the essence of human free will. An unforgettable, dizzying kaleidoscope of a thrill ride!" M. Andrews-Midwest Book Rev.