Today I am joined by the fantastic author Alex Laybourne. Welcome Alex, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.
I was born and raised in England, in a coastal town called Lowestoft, but I relocated to The Netherlands in 2006 just before my first child was born. Now, 6 years and 4 children later I am still here. I never regretted my move, although it certainly doesn’t work in my favor with regards my writing and promotional work.
I have always written, from simply copying down the text out of books to creating my own stories. The progression to thinking of myself as a writer was an easy one, finding the time to make the state of mind a reality took me a long time to get my head around.
I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen and expected to have my life changed overnight. Of course, that was just stupid, and the book never even saw the light of day. Still, it lit the fire and although it took me another ten years to sit down and pen a real novel again, my mind had never stopped, and I found myself with a wealth of novels ready and waiting to be written. I currently have around 20 novels and short story collections planned out in my head, and a 10 book series on a serious subject.
My debut novel Highway to Hell has just been published via MayDecember Publications LLC and they also have the rights to the second and third chapters in the trilogy, which are currently scheduled for a June and January release. They are also reading some short stories of mine, so it is all systems go at the moment which means a lot of coffee, little sleep and lots of multi-tasking. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
That’s great news Alex, congratulations! Tell us about your writing process?
My writing process is pretty structured, now. With 4 kids, aged 6(almost), 4(just), 2, and 4 months, free time is not a commodity I have, and so my alarm goes at 4:30am every morning, 5:00am on the weekends. Within 5 minutes I am downstairs, with a coffee in hand. I sit down and start writing, check my emails and social media feeds. I reply to any comments I have received on my website and social media posts. On an average morning I can have 1000 -1500 words written before 6am. I then have to go to work, which takes around 10 hours of my day including travel time. I spend my 30 minute lunch break writing, and then write for around an hour or so again in the evening once the kids have gone to bed.
Of course anybody with children will understand that even the best laid plans can be turned on their heads in the blink of an eye.
Multi-tasking is a big part of my process, writing with children in my arms, or having multiple screens open. At this point in time I am answering two different interview questions, and writing two blog posts, along with editing two pieces of work for friends. I am lucky that until now, touch wood (my head is the closest thing to that around me), I can manage it all just fine.
Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I have never really thought about it. My work is all very much based in the horror genre, and the multiple avenues that lie within it. That being said, I have just written a short story, an anthology submission in fact, which is Urban Fantasy. It actually turned out as a YA piece, and the characters really called to me, so I have sketched out provisional ideas this afternoon for a 5 book series. So I guess, YA Urban Fantasy would be the genre that I am most likely to move into.
What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
The Books of Blood by Clive Barker,
IT by Stephen King
The Shining (but not the movie, I am one of the few people who think the movie butchered the story into something almost unrecognizable, however well shot it was) also by Stephen King
1984 by George Orwell
The entire Dark Tower Series by Stephen King
All of these books influenced me in different ways. Barker for the fantasy and colorful worlds he created, for the prose that reads like poetry, they are like a silk cushion caressing my brain every time I sit down to read a few pages. I first read IT when I was about 10 years old, and ironically, Pennywise is the only clown that doesn’t creep me out. The Shining was the first book to every truly scare me. I studied 1984 at school, and it is just a book that stuck with me. I have read it several times since and will undoubtedly do so again. It rings true in many avenues of life, and on top of it all is a damned entertaining story. The Dark Tower series simply because of their mass, the simplicity of the story, seven books about a man walking along a path to get to a tower, the way it weaves through worlds, and comes across characters from other novels; the details and intricacies of it all are just staggering. I guess that is why King is the master storyteller… until now… oh, wait, that sounds a bit big-headed right?
Of course, these are just some of the books I have read in recent years. There are a great many other wonderful stories that have inspired me, kept me up late at night because my drive to write was so strong. I have read several short stories from Lovecraft and Poe, each one amazing in their own right, but most have been found online or as part of other things, and so don’t really count for the question at hand. There are too many to choose from, these five were just the first ones jut jump from the crowd.
Great choices Alex. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
I only have one book published, so let’s go with Highway to Hell. There are six main characters in the first book, and two sub characters that will become important.
Marcus – Shemar Moore
Becky – Olivia Wilde
Richard – Josh Hutcherson
Helen – Amy Adams
Sammy – Chance Crawford
Graham – Anthony Hopkins
Raguel – Christian Bale
Nemamiah – Joseph Gordon Levitt.
A major recurring character in books 2 and 3 would have to be played by Gary Oldman, because I love that man and think he is the best actor around.
Now that I look at it, I have quite a few pairs of characters there, people who have worked together and who are paired up in the books in some way also. Bale, Levitt and eventually Oldman from Batman, but I guess not only do I find them to be great actors, but they had a good chemistry also.
The characters of Richard and Sammy are the only two in my mind that are doubtful, they are young, and my knowledge of young up and coming actors is a lot less than it used to be. Also, Olivia Wilde is beautiful, but may be a bit old for the character of Becky.
To be honest, I always liked the idea of casting some unknowns in a few of the roles. So I guess what I am saying is that besides the final three names, all slots are still open. Man, I didn’t do very well on that question.
You did just fine – it’s hard to pick people that we have seen in roles depicting the characters that have spent so much time living in our heads. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
I haven’t ever really thought about it. I would probably just do a quiet little dance, post it on Facebook and then get back to my writing or whatever it was I was doing. Being on the list would be awesome, but staying there means continuing to work hard.
Yes it most certainly does. Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
Besides coffee, no, not really. I write at such early times for the most part, that I don’t have time for any vices. I guess, if I have the house to myself in an evening to write, a bit of junk food always helps (just a little).
Geez, that’s not too bad – where’s the dirt?? All kidding aside, what do you do when you’re not writing?
If I’m not writing, I am either, at work (shudder), playing with the kids or relaxing with my wife; reading a book watching TV or a movie, etc. I lead a pretty simple life in the respect.
Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.
I had to cheat a little, as the final sentence went onto line 10,but this is the opening paragraph of an anthology submission I have been working on, and will also turn into the prologue of a (currently set at 5 books) YA Urban Fantasy series.
“Hi, my name is Glenn Hawke, and I am… well, you can call me a freelancer. I have a certain set of skills, which I put to good use, hunting down a very specific sort of being. My parents died when I was young, and ten years ago, just before my tenth birthday, my sister, Megan, was murdered before my eyes. She was the only family I had left. Her death was what caused my change. You see, my family was gifted, as are so many families out there. Normally, on our sixteenth birthday our change was set. Me, I changed for the first time on my tenth birthday. The rage of my sister’s death has consumed me, and brought me to my age of change ahead of time. The anger I felt made me a werewolf. Megan was a shapeshifter, gunned down by a man for no reason other than…her ability. Her death drives me. Revenging her has consumed my life and now. After all these years, I am this close, to catching the man responsible.”
Great beginning! Now it’s time to take a quick peek at Alex’s novel Highway to Hell…
Sentenced to offer their penance in the many chambers of Hell, their lives are nothing but a torturous experience. They are brought face to face with their past, their mistakes and the implications that had for others. Until one by one they are rescued and thrown together. Walking in a dying world, they are introduced to their rescuers who do anything but conform to their angelic stereotype. Together, bonded by an unknown destiny the group is set on their quest; to find one individual buried deep within the many Hell worlds. Not only does the fate of their world rest on their shoulders, but that of existence itself.
Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons, these things were once considered opposites, but what happens when they become neighbors, allies…friends?
Don’t forget to click the cover to be taken straight to Amazon!
Join me next week when I’m joined by Scott Goriscak!