Hello again! Hope you’re all having an awesome Monday. I’m starting the week off by featuring Alex Laybourne. He chatted with me about his latest release, and all kinds of other cool stuff. Enjoy, and I’ll see you again tomorrow! — Jamie
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.
That is a tough question to answer. I have always written, so I don’t think there was ever a time that I made the conscious choice of wanting to be a writer. It was always there. I can recall the first time I said to myself I was going to write a book. I was 15 and on holiday in Spain with an old friend and his family. The complex we stayed in closed for a few hours every afternoon for the Spanish ‘siesta’ and I was bored out of my mind, so I grabbed a pen and paper, told my friend I was going to write a book, and I did. It was crap, but I wrote it; 50,000 words in total. Thankfully none of it will ever see the light of day.
2) You are getting ready to release a new book. Tell us about it and what inspired you to write it.
The Highway to Hell trilogy all came to me because of a golf course. I had this idea about golf courses and fiction. I cannot give too much away as while Highway to Hell left the golf course idea behind, the novel I am editing at the moment did use it, and in exactly the manner I had originally planned for this trilogy. Let me put it this way. How many holes does a golf course have? That was my starting point, and from there I hit Google looking for anything connected to the number eighteen. I stumbled onto the Buddhist mythology of the ‘Diyu’ and how there were 18 levels of hell. There were other variations with more levels and some with fewer, but eighteen was my specific target.
I must have written the first part of the novel five times, a good 100,000 words but could never get it to come together. I then removed the golf course idea and started working around with ideas and the rest just fell into place.
Originally, it was going to be one book, around 100,000 – 120,000 words, but as I wrote it, I realized that there was much more to write than I first thought. To be honest, I found it a bit too much at the time; too daunting. It took me a long time to write and eventually panned out into a trilogy. Part 2 is about to be released, and I am already planning for the day when I can go back and write an unabridged version of the series.
I am currently working on Part three and even now I am not sure how it is going to go. All I will say is that in the opening few pages two characters meet rather untimely ends. Then again, if you have read the first two then you will know that is not really a surprise.
3) What drew you to the horror genre?
I never really made a conscious choice to write in the horror genre. When I first sat down to write a book I had this idea of writing something artistic. I wanted to write an action book, but without the action. I would cut away from the scene as the action began and came back to it once it was over. I am not sure what I was actually thinking. The more I wrote the more I tended to lean towards the darker side of fiction. It was the natural direction that I took. I had always read Stephen King, but it was only when I picked up the Books of Blood by Clive Barker that I truly understood the horror genre and learned that it was the place where my writing belonged.
4) Tell us a bit about your writing process. What kind of schedule do you keep, and do you have anything special you do to get into the writing zone?
With a full time job and 4 young children at home my writing schedule is hectic. I basically sit down at every opportunity and write until someone tells me to stop. I get up at 04.20 (I have a thing with order and times) every day and write until the kids wake up. I go to work and write in my lunch break… as I am doing right now. Then in the evening, once the kids are in bed I will write some more. I tend to go to bed around 23.00 so I pull long days, but it is worth it.
I consider myself blessed that when it comes to writing, I never have to find the zone. My head is always buried in my writing. I am either writing, thinking about writing or reading. Even when I am at work or whatever, there is some small part of my mind continually going through things. All I need is an excuse to find a free moment and I will blast out a couple of sentences.
5) What’s the first book you remember reading?
I remember reading a book call George Borrow when I was really young, like 4 or 5, because I remember how surprised my family were when I announced I had finished it. That being said, I remember nothing about the book. The book that sticks in my memory as being the first would be IT by Stephen King. I must have been about 9 or 10 when I read it, and there was a line at the start that went like “his trousers were so tight you could see the ridges in his cock.” Now I had no idea what he meant at the time, but it sticks in my mind. Maybe because I was reading aloud at the time and nobody knew what book it was.
6) What’s one of the most helpful bits of advice you’ve come across/received since you started writing?
I am going to be very boring here, but the answer is write. Write every day without fail. When you feel as though you cannot write anymore, stand up, sit back down and write some damned more. Ok, maybe I made that up, but it is the advice I give myself, paraphrased from numerous similarly phrased pieces of advice.
One piece of writing advice that stick in my mind are
-“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
– Stephen King
Another quote is not really advice but a line from a movie. “Long live the New Flesh.” It is from Videodrome by David Cronenburg and it is one of my all-time favorite movies. There is something about it that I find inspiring. Writing is about creation it is about being daring and new. It is about seeing that line in the sand, that point which writers are afraid to cross and then stomping right over it. I want to push boundaries, push believes and sanities. I want my writing to stand out from the crowd not because of the way it is written, but for how it makes people feel.
7) What character would you most like to meet in real life?
That is a tough one. I would be hard pushed to turn down a chance to meet Roland Deschain, son of Stephen.
8) Name one book you wish you’d written and why.
I would not want to take the credit for anybody else’s work. Everything I have ever wanted to write and have my name attached to I have done. I have a great number of books planned out in my head, and have chosen the ones I have written already for a reason. At that moment in time, I was ready to write that particular piece above all others.
9) How do you promote your work?
I am terrible at promoting my own work. That is the God’s honest truth. I suck at self-promotion. I can do it for others, but not for me. I am active on Facebook and can always be found talking about my writing. I fall down in terms of location and finances. I am in a non-English speaking country and have no real English reading audience with easily accessible reach which removes all forms of face to face sales from my arsenal. Online promotion costs money, even Facebook ads cost $3, and that is just too much for me to be able to spend on my writing. With 4 children and me being the only wage earner every penny we have goes to paying bills and buying groceries.
10) Besides your upcoming release, what else have you got planned for your readers?
Besides the second Highway to Hell release, I will be re-released the first installment of my zombie series Diaries of the Damned in the coming weeks. All nine episodes of the serial are currently being re-edited and published under the J Ellington Ashton label. On top of that, I have three short story collections coming out this year also called Musings of a Hideous Mind (Volumes I, II, and III). These will be under the Vamptasy label. If things go to plan I will have fifteen pieces out in a short space of time. I am writing two novels, editing a third and am also dabbling in something that will be published under and pseudonym. I have more than enough on the go to keep me busy into the New Year and already have my next three writing projects planned out.
From an early age I was sent to schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away and so spent most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in the weekends or holidays.
I have been a writer as long as I can remember and have always had a vivid imagination. To this very day I find it all too easy to just drift away into my own mind and explore the world I create; where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue
I am married and have four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. My biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.
For people who buy my work, I hope that they enjoy what they read and that I can create something that takes them away from reality for a short time. For me, the greatest compliment I can receive is not based on rankings but by knowing that people enjoy what I produce, that they buy my work with pleasure and never once feel as though their money would have been better spent elsewhere.