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Between the lines with David Wellington (Q&A)

David Wellington's 'The Hydra Protocol' is available now from William Morrow.

Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes David Wellington.

Wellington is the author of The Hydra Protocol: A Jim Chapel Mission (William Morrow, $25.99), which was published on Tuesday. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero shot his classic zombie films, and is most well-known for his acclaimed zombie serial, the Monster Island Trilogy, which was later published by Three Rivers Press. Wellington began serializing a vampire novel, 13 Bullets, in 2006 at His makes his home in New York City.

The Hydra Protocol is the second full-length novel to feature Jim Chapel following Chimera (2013). Publishers Weekly called the book “inventive” and praised, “Plenty of twists and rolling action keep the pages turning.” Further, Kirkus noted, “Wellington wants those of you who haven't kept up with the news to know that Cold War relics and new world order infighting have made the former Soviet Union a very dangerous place indeed … The threats keep shifting, but the well-choreographed action, which requires a remarkably small cast, is nonstop …”

From the publisher:

To prevent nuclear annihilation, Special Forces operative Jim Chapel must infiltrate a top secret Russian military base and disable an unstable supercomputer in this high-adrenaline, action-packed adventure thriller from David Wellington, the acclaimed author of Chimera—an exciting, science-based thriller reminiscent of the works of Lee Child and James Rollins.

On a routine mission involving a sunken Soviet submarine in Cuban waters, wounded Special Forces veteran Jim Chapel, back in action thanks to medical technology, unexpectedly meets Nadia, a beautiful Russian agent.

Nadia shares shocking intel about HYDRA, a forgotten Cold War supercomputer that controls hundreds of nuclear missiles aimed at the U.S. Just one failsafe error, and America will be obliterated. And there have been glitches in its programming. . . .

To disarm HYDRA before it plunges the U.S. into nuclear winter, Nadia and Chapel must travel across Eastern Europe and infiltrate a secret base hidden deep in the steppes of Central Asia. But as these uneasy allies discover, not everyone wants the weapon out of commission.

Now, David Wellington reveals a few pages from the book of his life …

1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

Oh, no. I had my nose in a book from the time I could read. The suburban town where I grew up was pretty much built around a library—it was one of the few places you could hang out when you were a kid. Basically from the age of six on, you could have found me back in the stacks, just taking one book after another off a shelf, glancing through it for something interesting. By the end of the day I’d have a pile as big as I was, and my Mom would have to come pry me away.

2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

My Dad had a beautiful edition of the Lord of the Rings, and for a couple of years in the ‘80s those books actually lived in my bed. As in, I wouldn’t put them on the night table, because if I woke up in the middle of the night they would be too far away for me to just pick them up and read them. I was also a huge fan of Piers Anthony back then, but, well, every twelve year old was.

3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

“The Revolutions” by Felix Gilman, who is probably the best fantasy novelist working today and this one just cements that reputation. “Raising Steam” by Terry Pratchett, because if there’s a new Discworld book out, I’m reading it. And “Fighting the Flying Circus”, a memoir from a World War I fighter ace, which I can’t put down.

4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?

Typically I want to know who’s asking. There are a lot of people in the world who are never going to enjoy a horror novel, so I wouldn’t recommend Peter Straub to them. And there are people who can’t enjoy urban fantasy or magical realism, so I wouldn’t tell them about John Crowley and “Little, Big” (except everyone should read that one, so I would probably tell them about it anyway).

5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

They’re all different. I think “13 Bullets” has the best plot, the best pure story. But my latest series, “Chimera” and “The Hydra Protocol” has Jim Chapel in it, and he’s my best character. It depends what people like. “Chimera” has a lot less gore in it, though it’s still scary. I recommend it to people who don’t like horror.

6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

I hope not—I hate the idea that there are authors people won’t read, as if there was something wrong with reading them. Reading a book doesn’t transform you into the kind of person that book was written for. Books should be fun to read—there shouldn’t be any weird baggage about that. I don’t judge adults for reading Harry Potter, so why should they judge me for what I read?

7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

Larry Niven. I was just the biggest fan when I was a kid. In class we had to write a letter to our favorite author—I still have it somewhere. When I finally met him at a book festival in Spain, we ended up having dinner and talking about how we would stop asteroids from hitting the earth. It was awesome.

8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

Dozens of them. They keep coming. It starts when you get your first book deal; hopefully it never ends. The latest was my first American hardcover release, for “Chimera”.

9) What is your greatest literary ambition?

To write a book people talk about fifty years from now. To add something to the long list of books that people consider worth the paper they’re printed on.

10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

An anagram for Ford’s Heartbroken Axiom.


With thanks to David Wellington for indulging our curiosities and to Zea Moscone, Assistant Publicist at HarperCollins, for facilitating this interview.

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