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Gilberto Dario Gagliani
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(This interview with BookLovers may never see the light of day, so it is presented here in its entirety. Please note, spoilers lurk throughout the conversation, so you may want to read Wolf's Trap first!)

BL: Let's start out by stating that Wolf's Trap is rather dark. Why did you choose to write a thriller with such dark characters and scenes?

BG: Well, I've always been fascinated with evil and what makes humans treat others with cruelty. Most of the themes in my earlier short stories have been dark in nature, and in plotting Wolf's Trap I wanted to continue my exploration of evil and monsters, both human and supernatural, as well as obsession.

BL: Why use the werewolf mythology?

BG: It seemed a natural for what I was trying to do. It's generally accepted that werewolf mythology, besides having escalated during the Dark Ages, has often been used to portray the concept of duality. Two personalities, two creatures, united inside one body. The beast within. We all have a dark side, and the werewolf was an easy icon to adopt when wanting to discuss it.

BL: The two main characters are a cop and the serial killer who hates him. Yet, it's been mentioned that you seem to "like" them equally. Why is that?

BG: Duality strikes again! I see Nick Lupo (the cop), and Martin Stewart (the serial killer), as two sides of the same coin. They both had trouble dealing with their fathers, though in very different ways. They both have sufficient reasons for the things they do, and they know when they do wrong, yet they do them anyway -- they are not fully in control, yet they determine their own destinies. It's a kind of duality I wanted to explore, but in the context of an adventure story.

BL: There are some rather disturbing scenes of sex and kink in the book, as well as a hearty helping of violence. Some might ask, why wallow in it?

BG: I have been greatly influenced by many authors, but the work of Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, David Schow, Ray Garton and Edward Lee continues to make an impact on me. You might recognize them as part of the "movement" once dubbed Splatterpunk. Now, I'm not a splatterpunk (and neither are they), but I've always appreciated the more visceral approach to storytelling these writers and others tended to use. I've also been influenced by authors whose work is often called "erotic horror" -- the fine line between pleasure and pain, ecstasy and agony, interests me just as much. As part of what I attempted to do, I wanted to utilize these approaches, however unpopular, to tell my story.

BL: What attracts you to this "visceral" approach?

BG: Partly, the realization that true horror can be the fact that your neighbor is Jeffrey Dahmer. We horror writers don't have to make up that much stuff anymore -- it's all out there. We need to reflect it. The randomness of horror. The disgruntled guy with the gun. The child-killer. The molesting priest. The government's games. All this stuff is out there, and we don't need the supernatural to provide us with horror. I like having a supernatural streak, or the possibility of it, but it doesn't have to provide the horror aspect. People do that well enough on their own!

BL: What about the misogynist characters?

BG: Again, reflecting some scary realities. They're there to balance the heroic, if unfortunate, protagonist -- Nick Lupo. The bad guys all have their warped reasons for the way they feel. Lupo, on the other hand, bears a heavy burden of guilt because women who mean something to him have a tendency to die violently. This guilt has crippled him psychologically, rendering him unable to face his own feelings. He's so thrown by having an enemy who knows what he is, that his perceptions are hampered. He bears his duality like an ever-bleeding wound.

BL: Martin, the serial killer, has a serious fetish.

BG: Yeah, he has a good reason to love/hate something his father forced him to do. But following the duality theme, Martin is both victim and victimizer. As much as he was abused by his father, he himself abused his own sister. In fact, many of the characters in Wolf's Trap have dual natures, intentionally.

BL: What about Sam Waters?

BG: He's caught between the world of his tribe and the white man's world. The old and the new. And his son carried the werewolf gene briefly -- a fact which makes him (Sam) both victim and punisher. Hopefully he's not stereotypical, though he is the key to understanding what happened to Lupo, and therefore he's a bit, shall we say, knowledgeable in the arcane arts.

BL: Back to the sex -- why include so much?

BG: Well, Lupo's friend who is murdered is an escort. But her dual nature is that she has an even more secret life -- she's an exhibitionist and has become involved in porn. I wanted to portray the porn world somewhat impartially -- it's not truly responsible for her death, because Martin has pegged her as Lupo's friend and therefore a part of his revenge. And I wanted to bring eroticism into the book without necessarily making the murder scenes erotic -- that is, most of the sex takes place apart from the violence. By the way, the best sex is shared by the protagonist and his new lady love, bringing a sort of romantic eroticism to the proceedings. At least, that was my intention.

BL: And what about the fetish aspect?

BG: I wanted my serial killer to be a little different from many of the others invented by my fellow authors. I gave him a little known fetish, and one I think is provocative for many reasons. There's a sociological theory of "body mimicry" which forms the basis of his fetish, and the characters discuss it at some length in the book. In keeping with the theme of duality, it's something many, many people don't think of as erotic at all, and yet its very underpinning is eroticism that's been either repressed or socially accepted until it's faded into the background. I found that very interesting as a topic to explore.

BL: What is the fetish?

BG: Ah, you'll just have to read the book!

BL: What sort of research did you do for the novel?

BG: Over the years this whole idea was germinating, I read books on profiling, sociology, police procedure, and the mythology of beauty throughout history. There were books on Wisconsin Indian tribes and their beliefs, and I also read a few things about werewolves in history.

BL: For instance?

BG: You mean about werewolves? Well, hundreds of people were executed in the Dark Ages for the crime of lycanthropy. Unfortunately, they were either mental patients, sufferers of porphyria, or simply victims of revenge. But it was difficult to prove you weren't a werewolf, if you'd been accused. Rather like the witch trials. They took their werewolves almost as seriously as their vampires and witches, maybe more so.

BL: Did you follow the mythology? Aversion to silver, and so forth?

BG: I made a few changes, mostly by mixing Western with Native American traditions. The silver aversion came from the movies, but I used it, implying that maybe it wasn't a whole-cloth fabrication after all. I liked having Lupo cringe at silver -- it added to the atmosphere I was seeking. Sort of Universal movies blended with Cinemax (or Skinemax, as it's known)! Plus, it's Lupo's Kryptonite! It's a tribute to all the werewolf lore that came before.

BL: So how would you describe the novel to someone who might want to read it?

BG: In Hollywood-pitch style, I usually say it's "The Wolf Man" meets "No Way to Treat a Lady" by way of "Deliverance" and with a nod to "Body Double."

BL: You were waiting to use that!

BG: Of course...