Who is he? I’ll let him tell you in his own words:
Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that I became a horror writer.
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.
What’s your latest work? My horror trilogy Highway to Hell. The first two novels are out now, and follow the plight of 6 strangers who die and find themselves trapped in the torture chambers of hell. Rescued by a group of battle hardened angels, they find themselves on a journey that will take them back into the deepest pit Hell and to the highest point of heaven as they attempt to stop the barriers that separate the angelic worlds from crumbling. Book one introduces the characters and set them on their journey. Book two picks up immediately following the events of the first, and shows us that just because they are dealing with angels, it doesn’t mean they are fighting for the right cause. Who can you trust when those trying to help you have motives that could be more sinister than those you are trying to stop.
Marcus, Becky, Richard, Helen, Sammy, and Graham. All complete strangers, different ages, backgrounds and even countries, but they all have one major thing in common…they all must DIE.
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?
Marcus, Helen, Becky, Sammy and Graham are no longer strangers, but friends. Pulled from the chambers of hell they thought that they had survived, that they were free to being their eternity far away from the fires and tortures that had greeted them.
They were wrong!
The group soon find themselves back in Hell, this time venturing even deeper into the netherworld. Searching for the one soul the angels’ claim they were unable to rescue, the five friends march their way to the edge of the pit, Avici. It is here, in the castle that looks into the abyss where they come face to face with both the lost soul that they seek and the King of Hell himself; Lucifer.
Nothing is as it seems however, and just as it looks as if the coast is clear they learn that the ones they thought they could trust just might be the ones they should fear the most.
Why do you write/like horror? I think horror is a genre that affords us an escape, a way out. It is a genre that encourages us to face our fears, and to conquer them. We read scary stories, or watch horror movies, and while they scare us, we finish them, we conquer them. Everybody loves horror, we love to be scared, because deep down we know we will survive, but still cannot help but feel on top of the world when we get there.
Horror is an expressive genre, and I feel, having tried to write in others, that it is the most expressive, and versatile. Not many other genres can incorporate so many different things.
I never set out to be a horror writer, it just kind of happened naturally. I sat down to write a story, short stories at the time, and found that my style naturally slid towards the horrific, the scary. The work of Clive Barker has inspired me greatly, his books of blood series inspired me more than any book had before, or has since.
Every writer has a natural voice. Sure, we cross genres, but we have a natural flow and for me, it is horror.
What inspired this particular story? This story was inspired by a golf course. It may sound strange but it was. I wanted to write a book set on a golf course, and when i was researching the number eighteen, (one chapter was one hole) I came across an article talking about the ‘Diyu’ a Buddhist concept of Hell, where there are eighteen different chambers.
The main idea was born here, and after a good 30,000 words, spread over several different attempts at starting the novel, I dropped the setting, unable to link the story and keep characters moving from hole to hole, Without the golf course, the rest really did just come naturally. I didn’t plan any of it. My original idea was a single novel, but once I hit that 100,000 word mark and realized I had only just begun to scratch the surface, I knew it had to be split into a trilogy.
What’s the best horror movie you watched recently? I think James Wan is awesome, so his movies – Saw,, Dead Silence, Insidious, etc. I love to watch – I still need to see the Conjuring – I also enjoyed the Evil Dead re-make, for what it was. My wife isn’t a big horror movie fan, so we don’t watch too many. Of course, the classics of Hellraiser – especially parts 1 and 2- and the slasher movies from the 70’s and 80’s like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm street. They might not be scary, but they are iconic, and I love them.
What scares you? That is a tough one. I guess on a physical level I have the standard spider issues, and also butterflies. Yes, I’m a 6 foot 4, 110 kilo (245-250 lbs- man who is scared of butterflies. They are the creatures of the devil. Which is an image I plan to use in a story one day soon. On an emotional level, it would have to be the concept of losing my family, in any way shape or form.
What are you working on now? I am currently working on three things. I am editing a vampire novel, or rather, re-writing it. I was with a publisher that gave us a prompt which I took on, however, having since left that publishers for reason relating to differing views on professionalism – but out of respect I shall say no more – I am free to re-write it as I see fit. It is tough, I am a very slow editor, and recently my day job has kept me so busy, writing is nothing but a faint notion most days.
I am also working on a few releases that I have coming up. Two more short story collections, on in December (13th) and one in January (10th) and then a re-release of my zombie novel sometime after that.
I am also editing a collection of short stories into a novel, one flowing narrative linking around each story, which will serve as a set up for those telling said stories, to be the main characters in a second novel, and also have plans to start writing the third novel of the Highway to Hell trilogy also. I don’t like to sit still, so am always working on something. Seven days a week, I am writing and working on honing my skills in this craft.
What’s your favorite beverage while writing? Well, i get most of my writing done currently at 4.30am, so I guess coffee, ha. Although I am partial to a bourbon in the evenings. A couple of those and the words just story to flow. Never edit on bourbon though. That would make a great bumper sticker, don’t you think. “Never edit on Bourbon.”
Alex can be found at http://alexlaybourne.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Laybourne/212049612180183