Friday, January 10, 2014

Interview with Alex Laybourne.

Full Name:
Alexander Donald Laybourne

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I used to be called “Professor” at school, but nowadays I just tend to go by Alex.

A small coastal town called Gorleston, but the best part is the hospital where I was born is now a mental health institution.
That is pretty cool.  Hopefully one day it will be abandoned and you can go urban exploring in its abandoned edifice
That would be awesome, the whole county where I live is filled with awesome ghost stories and haunting tales.  One day I will write some books about them all.
DO IT!!!

Current hometown:
A small coastal town (I’m noticing a pattern here) in the Netherlands called Katwijk.

Favorite city and why?
I love Vancouver (Canada) and Sydney (Australia) although I only spent a few days in Sydney.  I really hope to make it back there one day.

Birthday / Age:
May 31, 1984… making me (gulp) 29, going on 30.
If it’s any consolation, I stopped really keeping track of my age after 35.  After that I just mark the decades.
I have to say, I am not overly bothered by numbers like that.  Age is all relative anyway.  Beside, with 4 kids I am way older than 29 on the inside. *laughs*
Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number.  Marriage ain’t nuthin’ but a ring.

How would you describe yourself physically?
I am a big guy.  Tall, relatively round, but that fluctuates a little.  I used to work out a lot, like twice a day, six days a week, but since the kids came along I have let that fall by the wayside a little.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Fat Bastard.  *laughs*

The first thing people notice about you is…
My high levels of awesomeness, and possibly my beard.
Good idea leading with the awesomeness.

Religion, if any?
I haven’t found one yet.  I find a lot of things in many religions that interest me, but none that make me stop and say, yes, this is the one for me.
I recently joined The Church Of Batman.  I highly recommend it.
Batman is good, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster I have heard offers a few interesting hypotheses.
Oh, I’m also a practicing Pastafarian. They’re non-exclusive philosophies.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I have more things than you can imagine, but I guess they are more idiosyncrasies.  I need to have the TV and the car stereo on an even numbered volume setting, and when I turn them off it has to be on level 10.  I always need to park in the same spot at work too, only there, if the spot is taken then my whole day feels messed up from the start.  As for phobias, I have the standard Spiders thing, and I’m not crazy about clowns, and butterflies are not my friend.
That’s not that weird.  I custom edit most of my music to cut out dead air and I always try to edit them to square seconds.  I also straighten things at people’s houses.  So if you have me over for coffee, the stack of DVDs to watch near your TV will be nice and straight, and possible organized alphabetically, or chronologically, or by director, then chronologically, then alphabetically.  I’m also obsessive about the organization of my music files and will spend the better part of a day organizing the tags and downloading album art and editing tags.  Nothing bothers me more than an “Unknown” tag.
That’s an impressive list.  I feel much less of a freak now.  I mean I held back slightly, I have a lot of other ticks and quirks, but if I told them all I would be locked up before I moved onto the next question.
Dude, I have a window open where I searched all of my music for he keyword “iTunes” and I am systematically editing “iTunes” out of all of the tags.  You’re safe here.
Okay, well I count the number of times my turn signals go when I turn off the motorway, but only at one specific junction.  I have to tap my car twice on the hood after parking it, but again only when I get to work.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I don’t smoke and I drink only every now and then, so I guess my worst vice would be coffee, although I am trying to keep that problem under control.

Current occupation / Dream job:
I am a contract and implementation manager for a software company based within the aviation industry.  My dream job would be a full time writer, but until then, my current job suits me just fine.  I get to travel the world a little, I am challenged and get to work to my own initiatives.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I’m not working, I am either writing, reading or playing with the kids.  One day I swear I will start playing golf again.  I played it for over twelve years, starting when I was just a young boy, and sometimes on nice summer days, I miss it.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Oddly enough, I was talking to my wife about this the other day.  You see, I would be screwed when the zombies arrive.  I have a son with Autism, and he can make a lot of noise, which would bring the undead right to us.  I could never leave my family behind, so I guess my plan would be to fight to the bitter end.

Weapon of choice:
Obviously a silent weapon works best, so I would say an array of bays and knives.  Swords would be good I could learn how to yield one properly.  Then a failsafe device, such a few perimeter defenses that could be blown should it come to it.

Do you have any special skills?
Nothing the immediately springs to mind.  I can’t sing or dance.  Unless writing counts as a special skill, I have heard I am rather adept at that.
I do believe that that counts because it’s something that some people find difficult and those that find it easy and pleasurable don’t understand why other people think it’s difficult.  Sometimes people ask me how I write books, and my default answer is the same as Stephen King’s, “One word at a time.”
It is the truest answer possible.  That is the only way to write.  Sit down, get it done, one word followed by another and another.  It is the same as promotion.  I sell books one at a time.  If I only sell a handful, so be it, but I will celebrate each and every one of them.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I didn’t.  I left school at 18 after taking (and passing) my final exams.  However, I decided that I wanted to join the police force, even though I was accepted to several Universities.  I never got into the police, I was too big, and that intimidates the criminals which is against their human rights.
Not going to college / university was and shall remain the only regret in my life.  I don’t get bogged down by regrets, what’s done is done, and it is how we atone for things that counts, but college is the one thing I cannot let go of.
College only really provides one with the opportunity to educate yourself.  You can no more put wisdom into someone else’s mind than you can grant sight to blind eyes.  That was the biggest benefit of going to college for me.  Having five years to have the time to read and study as much as I wanted to.  That and the promiscuous sex and recreational drug use.
You’re not making it any better for me now.  The idea of having the time to study and find oneself is the biggest appeal to me too.  I got into a discussion the other day about immortality.  Would you want it or not, and I said yes, in a way, because think of all the books you could read and all the learning you could do.
Oh, I know!  I go to a library and I see all of the books on the shelves and I just scream “FUCK!!!” and then they ask me to leave.  Apparently that kind of behavior is frowned on in libraries.  But I have read five different dictionaries and an entire set of encyclopedias so at least I got that out of the way.
One thing I really want is the complete twenty volume Oxford English Dictionary set.
Yeah, that’s not one of the four I’ve already read.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have a Siberian Husky puppy (17 weeks) called Zombie at home.

What is your favorite animal?
In terms of domestic animals, I am a dog person.  All the way.  Huskies and German Shepherds are my all-time favorite animals.
I used to have a German Shepherd stuffed animal I named “Lassie”.  I was crushed when I lost it… last week.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
I have a few but most are automobile based.  I hate it when people don’t indicate, especially at roundabouts.  It is the biggest annoyance I can think of.  Also when you get those asshats on the motorway who even though you are in traffic, come up behind you flashing their lights because they want to be where you are.
Yeah.   If you’re in the fast lane, drive fast, if not, get out of the way.  I know that sometimes the journey is almost as important as the destination, but I’d really like to get to where I’m going and if you’re between me and my goal, I am giving you the evil eye and casting a hex on you… with my middle finger as the magic wand.
I did that the other say to a guy being a fool behind me.  We were in bumper to bumper but flowing, traffic and he was angry he couldn’t undertake me.  I swore at him as he finally overtook me, when I moved out of the way to turn off the motorway, and  pulled in front of me and got out of his car.  I did the same, he took one look at me (6 foot 5 and 120kg) got back in his car and drove away.
That sounds like a good course of action he took.  I’d probably do the same.  Or try to take out your knees.  Big guys go down hard.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Well, I am a fan of almost all food, but I guess Curry and other rice dishes are my favorite thing to eat.  My least favorite would probably be potatoes, boiled potatoes.
I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re going to go through the effort of peeling and boiling potatoes, take the extra step and mash them up and whip up some gravy.  Otherwise you’re just wasting potatoes.
I second that statement.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
I have a lot, but I guess the one that I always fall back on is a quote from Rocky Balboa, and it sums up life, and how we need to keep fighting.

“Let me tell you something you already know.  The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.  You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain’t about how hard you hit.  It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.  That’s how winning is done!  Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth.  But you
gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody.  Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”
I need that voice-overed over this… on a loop.
There is one out there with the theme tune behind it.  It is the best video ever.  I had the link once, but cannot find it any more.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
The birth of my children.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
As I said, I don’t do regrets, and I think everything happens for a reason, to make us who we are, so I will go for something professional.  Last year I signed to a press which turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life, and I spent 6 months trapped in a place no writer deserves to be.
Yeah, my first book was put out by a publisher that only offers something like 12% royalties on books.  I’m grateful for the occasional royalty check that trickles in from them and for the opportunity to have my first book published.  But since bigger royalty checks are always better then smaller ones I’m going to let my next publisher wine and dine me.  I’ve already established my byline.  I don’t need to beg for print anymore.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
No, I haven’t actually.  I was never really a lothario, and my wife was my first serious girlfriend.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
No, for the same reasons as above. I am a rather boring bugger when it comes to all that.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Aside from the children, I would say making the decision to take writing seriously.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Refer to the comment about the press from 2013.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
Only one… that’s not fair.  I guess I would go back in time and kill whoever it was that first decided we need to have timezones.  Why can’t we just have a universal clock.  All it would mean is that sometimes it would be dark at breakfast and getting light at dinnertime.  Big deal.  It would also mean I no longer had to keep looking up EST and PST against my European timezone.
Well, I’m an insomniac so time zones don’t matter to me.  You can chat me up anytime.

What do you do?
I work for a company in the aviation industry.  We develop and sell a piece of software designed to monitor commercial aircraft leases.  I enter data onto the system, train new users and implement new customers.

How did you get started doing what you do?
Luck.  I lost a job to the recession and while I was working three different jobs to pay the rent I sent my CV to an agency, got the call, had an interview without knowing anything about the place and got offered the job fifteen minutes later.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Well, I don’t do anything special, so I will make it about writing.  Just go out there and do it.  Whatever it is you want to do with your life, just knuckle down and make it happen.  Life won’t do anything for you.  You need to make it work, and that takes dedication, it takes an investment of time.  If you want to succeed in something, you need to give it your all!
I always tell people not to bother because there are a lot of other easier things to do with your time and effort.  And if the person says, “Well, fuck you very much!  I’m going to do it anyway!” then I figure they’ll turn out alright.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on / finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
I have been working on a horror trilogy entitled Highway to Hell, the first two installments of which are out now.  It is a vast book and the scope I have for the third entry is making me tingle with excitement.  My first zombie novel, Diaries of the Damned, will be out on Feb 20th too, so I am really excited about that.
Let me ask you a question I like to ask authors that have written in the zombie genre.  Why zombies?  Why not vampires or werewolves or creatures from the black lagoon?
Well, I think zombies make a good allegory for life, they can be used for so many different things.  My novel takes a little twist on the classic and looks less at the zombies and more at the cause.
However, I am now editing a Vampire novel and have a series planned involving werewolves.  They are my personal favorite.  I never planned to write a zombie novel, it simply came to me and who was I to question my muse when she struck.  I know some people who write zombies and are very good at it.  I am not a zombie horror writer, but a horror writer who wrote a book with zombies in it.

What projects are you working on now?
I am currently editing a vampire novel that I started and then couldn’t stop.  I don’t like leaving things half done.  It is killing me, but I will make it work.  After that it will be on to the third Highway to Hell novel.
Oh man!  Isn’t that the worst?  I love the pressure of having a book project open and the constant reminder that it’s what I should be doing.  I took a break from my post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic opus to do a quick conversion of a paranormal screenplay I wrote into a novel.  And by quick, I mean I’ve been working on it for about a week when I can find the time and it’s only half done.  Keeping current on my interview homework has been eating a lot of my time lately now that the blog has finally achieved some momentum.  But I’m at 33 of 62 pages in Word, so I’m more than half done and I’m finishing all outstanding interviews tonight so I’ll have all day tomorrow to kill it.  The only problem is that I go into freefall for a day or two after finishing a major project.  I honestly have no idea of what to do with spare time.  I find it really disorienting, so I always immediately start working on another project.
I am the same.  I cannot sit still.  I need to be working on something.  Luckily I already have my next three projects lined up so I will be good for some time yet.
Yeah, I’m planning on going twelve for twelve in 2014.  Twelve novels in twelve months.  I’m publishing three this month so I think I’ll be in decent shape.
I know of a few others who are trying a similar approach.  Good luck to you, Scott, that is a workload even I don’t think I could handle.

What are you watching?
My wife and I watch a lot of TV shows, my current favorites are Arrow, Supernatural and American Horror Story.

What are you listening to?
I don’t listen to a lot of music, and have an eclectic taste.  Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Motorhead, but have also got an affinity for Country music.  I told you, eclectic. *laughs*

What are you reading?
Currently, I am read Dr. Sleep, in good, old-fashioned paperback format.  I also have two books written by friends of mine, that I am working on, but my e-reader died.

Favorite author / book?
Stephen King and Clive Barker.  I loved The Shining and the Books of Blood, but there are so many great writers, and books out there, it would never be able to pick just one.

Favorite band / song?
Not really sure.  As I said, I’m not a big music fan.  My current favorite would be Motorhead and Killed by Death is always a great tune to write some horror to.
I wrote a whole novel listening exclusively to Through Silver In Blood by Neurosis.

Least favorite band / song?
I don’t follow music so the people I dislike I don’t listen to. There are so many stupid celebrities who sing a song like they are a cat stuck in the tree and sell out stadiums around the world.
I always say that about everyone on American Idol… ever.  Just because you’ve got a strong mid-range push and can project doesn’t make you a singer.
Those shows really annoy me.  Nobody wants to pay their dues any more.  They all want instant success and act as though they frigging deserve it.  How many of these reality show bands tour the pubs and clubs playing to empty bars, or a handful of people, performing because they love it, because they want to make a name for themselves.  I get really get up with the expectant attitude of many of these so called ‘stars’ today.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Be a full time writer.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Stephen King, Paul Newman, Batman, one of each for you.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
I guess my best job is where I am now, I get to travel around the world a little, have flexible hours and enjoy what I do.  For a while I worked in a factory making powdered syrup / dextrose products.  It sucked and I was in a small building all on my own, away from the rest, and on night shifts, nobody ever even came across to ask if I wanted to have a coffee with them, when they all sat down together.
Aw… now we know why Jeffrey Dahmer did what he did.  If only someone would have asked him to come and sit with them on coffee break imagine how he would have turned out.
I should probably add that it wasn’t just the lack of coffee breaks that made it the worst job ever.  I think health and safety was a word that these guys did not know.  The place was a death trap, and again, being in a different building to the others, and having to climb five flights of stairs to check the machinery every hour or so, there was not a single camera, or phone there, so if I fell or something happened, you were completely screwed.
Sounds like you’ve got some great material for a story in there.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
Not that I can think of, I like the way this interview is structured and think it captures a little bit of everything.
Thanks!  I’ve conducted a hundred interviews in the past three months and I have had the chance to tweak the survey so that almost anyone can pick it up and run with it if they’re of a mind to.  The only problem is I can’t make people come off interesting if they’re determined to be boring.  Thankfully most interviewees try to give me at least a little something to work with.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
I would say Armand Rosamilia, and Todd Brown.  I would also say Paul Flewitt, but he tagged me, so that would serve no real purpose.
I appreciate the recommendations!  I’ve got Mando…
…and I’m working on interviews with Todd and Paul, but, like I said, I appreciate the recommendations nonetheless.

Got any questions for me?
Nothing comes to mind at this point in time.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to chat with me.  I appreciate it.
I appreciate your appreciation!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

About the Interviewee:
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.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
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Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
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Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the interview Scott, I had a blast.