Sometimes, I like to interview horror authors and post the results here. This is one of those times. Meet Alex Laybourne, author of Highway to Hell and Musings of a Hideous Mind. He’s got a new book out today (Musings of a Hideous Mind Volume II), so we had a little fireside chat where we sipped on tea and it was very pleasant. (Actually we did it over e-mail, but who’s counting?)
1) Tell everyone about Alex Laybourne!
Alex Laybourne is awesome! Only kidding, well, only a little.
Alex Laybourne is a father of four who when he isn’t chained to a desk, can be found writing and reading, hidden away in a corner somewhere with his mind lost in the worlds he creates. Born in England, he moved to the Netherlands in 2006 and has remained there ever since. He started writing novels when he was fifteen, although was rather competent with words and pens from a much earlier age. It wasn’t until three or four years ago that he really started taking it seriously however, and has in the time published three novels, and numerous short stories. Many of these have since been un-published do to a split between author and publishers. He has two novels and a short story collection published in his name currently, and plans for at least 6 releases in the coming year which will see his previously published work back on the market, where it belongs… or so he thinks.
2) What’s your most recent project and if you got hit by a bus tomorrow, how do you think it would define you as a former inhabitant of the living world?
My current project is a vampire novel, although I am talking real vampires, not the sparkling, teenage angst kind. I am changing the lore and trying to create something unique, a concept I want to bring through in all my work. A fresh take on things, never be generic.
If I were to be hit by a bus today, I would be remembered as the hardest working man to never get anywhere. It may sound melodramatic, but I simple mean that I have yet to begin to define myself as a writer. I am only just not getting to grips with the promotion idea, and getting a decent body of work out there to be able to pedal my wares with confidence.
I would like to be remembered as a hard worker, a dedicated man, a loving father and all around good guy. Fame from writing would be nice, financial security would be even better, but being a father comes first, all else pales by comparison.
3) All horror authors tend to have strong feelings about Stephen King and/or H.P. Lovecraft. What are yours?
I have not yet read enough Lovecraft to be able to give you a real answer. I have the Necromnicon omnibus of his work and it is one of the next books I want to read. Having said that, what I have read of his, I have enjoyed thoroughly. His style may be a little ´wordy´ for today´s crowd, but I enjoy it, so I really am looking forward to reading more.
Stephen King, well, he is an icon. Certainly a writer that has influenced me in many ways, and continued to do so today. Along with Clive Barker, I can safely say I would not be a writer if it was not for these two gentlemen. From the grand spectacle that was the Dark Tower, to the creativity of his short stories, from IT and the Shining through to Dr Sleep and Under the Dome, King´s ability to spin a yarn is, whether people love him or hate him, second to none. I am not a big fan of celebrity, or of meeting celebrities, but Stephen King and Clive Barker are two people I would love to meet.
4) I’ve asked this of everyone I’ve interviewed so far (which is one person), so now it’s your turn: You are in a dark forest. You come to a fork in the path. One way leads to a blind dog who will lead you to a cave in which you can learn one secret you’ve always wanted to know, but you don’t get to choose which secret. The other way leads to a tree with an axe stuck in it. The axe will tell you any person’s sins, but if you use it, you are obligated to kill them with the axe if the sins are bad enough. Which path do you take?
I think I would take the axe. We all have secrets, and some deserve to stay there. We all have something to atone for, and we always serve our penance. Whether imposed upon us by others, self inflicted. People would assume that secrets are always bed things, but often they are not, they are normally more along the line of embarrassment or idle gossip. The axe tells sins, which could also be interpreted (in many instances) as secrets. The obligation is not to kill, but to kill if bad enough, murder, child abuse… an eye for an eye? I’m not for vigilantism, but a case could be made in my mind for the police and for the courts to make sentences something to be feared once more, rather than something viewed as more of an inconvenience.
5) You’ve just left your publisher and are now forging out into the world of self-publishing, scared and alone. How are you adjusting to the change?
Well I was self published before, then I found a publisher – MayDecember – who took Highway to Hell, and the other two books in its trilogy and published (the first two of) them for me. I am still with this publisher, and highly recommend them. I have just left a different publisher who I shall not name here. If people ask me directly, I will give an honest answer, but to throw names around now would be bad form. I pulled all of my books from said company and am now having the majority of them published through Vamptasy, a part of Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly, another wonderful press that I cannot speak highly enough of. I would consider self publishing some titles in the future, I enjoyed the self published approach, and think it is a viable option, but only if you take yourself seriously, and put in the proper work. Get editors to look at things. Real editors, not just friends and family. So to answer your question, I left a publisher, but very luckily had contracts signed with two others for other bodies of work.
6) You’ve hacked into the all-powerful mass communication server that runs all the TV networks, websites, radio stations, etc. and have the entire world’s attention for thirty seconds. What do you say?
Buy my books, and then we can return to your regularly, scheduled program – cue glamorous assistant in a small bikini showing off my books.
7) What’s the creepiest dream that you can remember?
That is a tough one. I very rarely remember my dreams, and when I do they are often not that creepy, but rather more bizarre. I love dreams though, and find it fascinating how everything is put together. I remember one where a friend of mine was in hospital and it turned into this crazy, twisted labyrinth filled with cells and wards of deformed creatures, their bodies not even resembling humanoid form in many cases, and none of the medical staff had faces. I was trying to find some help for this friend, but the Matron of the ward, a woman whose face was hazed out, faded to a blur, took my outside and there was no door to get back inside. It was a few years ago now, and I remember that there was something else outside. I think it was a maze, filled with creatures, but I don’t recall clearly enough.
I had a great dream about werewolves last night, but it wasn’t creepy. Not by my standards at least.
8) Have you got anything else to add?
Other than Buy my books, I cannot think of much else.
I jest of course, but seriously, picking up a copy of two would make me very happy, and possibly even place me in your debt.
Feel free to look me up and say hi.