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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alex Laybourne: A Special Halloween Treat

In the spirit of Halloween, today I have a very special author stopping by my blog on his own virtual tour!

Welcome Alex Laybourne!

People Don’t Hate Horror But Are Afraid They Will Like It.

When people ask me what I write, I tell them. I do so knowing what their reaction will be. It’s always one of the same too. “Cool,” or “Ugh, I don’t like horror.” There is never any hint of indifference, always on definite in one direction or the other.
Then why do people so vehemently deny enjoying Horror? I offer that they tell themselves that they hate it because they are afraid that they will like it.
Horror is a genre with a stigma, not in terms of literature but more as a result of movies redefining what the genre stands for.
I believe that intrinsically everybody loves to be scared. We sit and watch scary movies, and read horror novels, knowing that it will scare us, and yet we do it none the less. Sometimes it is to look brave and be the big guy in front of your friends. Other times it is because we want to escape, to leave behind all of the stresses and problems of daily life. Whatever our reasons, at some point in time we all want to feel that fear.
A few years ago there was a shift in horror that turned it away from spooky, away from importance of plot, and instead it was replaced with gore. We’re talking final Carrie prom scene gore from credits to credits. Sure there has always been gore in horror movies, but after movies such as Saw the thirst for blood overtook the need for a good story. Don’t get me wrong, the first Saw was great, but it should have been left there. Horror is the only real place for a gore filled blood fest, but that is not what the genre is about. Maybe there should be a new sub-genre created to help separate real horror from the stigma.
This shift away from creepy and into gross out is a sign of the times. Human beings are becoming desensitized and this means that horror in the traditional sense no longer cut the mustard. There is a reason why writers such as Clive Barker and Stephen King or even further back to the original masters H P Lovecraft and Poe, remain so firmly seated at the top of the genre. Do they use gore? Yes, but do they sacrifice the quality of story, dialogue, and descriptions of settings and the characters (both physically and emotionally)? No. They understand that true art of horror is in building suspense, creating a creepy atmosphere that will make your skin crawl. Just look at Dracula and Frankenstein, even older examples of horror that are scary but offer very little in terms of the now standard ‘blood and guts’ horror stylings.
It is easier to tell yourself that you dislike something you have never tried, than to lie to yourself about liking something you feel you shouldn’t. I am not saying that everybody is a closet horror fanatic, nor do I suggest we all should be. I simply feel that sometimes Horror gets ignored because of certain social pressures and expectations.
So tell me, do you like Horror?

Author Bio:
Horror writer Alex Laybourne was born in the UK but relocated to The Netherlands to be with his wife. Together they have three wonderful children who despite their young age are showing all the signs of following in their father’s creative footsteps.
Alex’s debut novel Highway to Hell is a 96,000 word horror novel and the first in a trilogy that will take readers on a journey not just into hell, but through it.
Highway to Hell can be found on,, and, and for all non-kindle readers via for just $2.99. You can also download a free sample of the novel at all of the above sites.

Alex is always interested in making new friends both readers and writers alike. You can find him at most hours of the waking day on Twitter under the name @vanplank or on his blog

Book Blurb
Heaven and Hell, Angel and Demons, these things were once considered opposites, but now you will see that they are neighbors, allies…. friends.
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. Waking 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.
 Thank you Alex for your terrific article!

After learning about Alex's novel, my husband and I were intrigued! We decided it would only be fitting to both review his novel. For the first time on my blog, I am sharing a HIS and HER review.  The great surprise for us - we BOTH loved it!
Jerry Wheeler * * * * *
Highway to Hell by Alex Laybourne
This is a fictional story that encompasses man’s sinful nature, damnation, judgment, heroism and redemption. It is a story that is part thriller, horror, and sci-fi rolled into one. It will keep you thinking from beginning to end, what is going to happen to the characters. It is the first of a series to be written and you will want to find out what happens next when you finish reading this book. It tells the tale of six main characters who all die in the beginning of the book, but their end is far from over ,in fact without revealing too much about the plot their existence is just beginning. Marcus, Helen, Sammy, Graham, Becky, and Richard are people just like you and me who lead different lives with different experiences to different ends, and different beginnings.

I found this book to be fascinating, the characters are so well detailed that you can get sucked into their thoughts ,you really will have no doubt that they could be real . The emotions expressed in their lives, deaths, and the hereafter will throw you for a loop. I was intrigued by the thought process that this author demonstrates in writing this. I found this book nothing short of amazing and well written. It would be terrifying if parts of this novel were real. The story could be believable as some parts are based on Biblical history and the descriptions of Hell will scare the heck out of you to put it mildly.

It is a novel that should be strictly labeled as for adults as there are many graphic situations, violence, and adult language throughout the book. I look forward to the author releasing the next in the series.
Bonnie Wheeler  * * * * *
Scary, thrilling, don't shut the lights off, (wait, what was that sound?), oh yeah, where was I? Do you want a spine tingling roller coaster ride?

I used to love horror novels when I was a teen, but then when I became older I was more interested in books that were mostly romantic with a bit of fright. Alex Laybourne reminded me why I loved horror so long ago. Because it is fun to be scared from the safety of my couch with my precious fuzzy blanket to protect me.

I don't believe in giving spoilers, so I won't go into detail, but if hell is really the way Laybourne created it, then we all better be saying our prayers before bed. Imagine the smell of decaying flesh, imagine having your ...uhhh...private parts...never mind. Imagine seeing the ones you left behind on earth suffer in misery when you're gone and you can't change that. Now, imagine mighty angels appearing and you suddenly have a chance to change your eternity!

This book is for adults. I won't allow my "oh so curious" young teens the chance to read it until they are much older, BUT, adults - if you want to read a novel with fascinating, detailed characters, and pacing that is so perfectly crafted that you can't pull yourself away. Give this book and yourself a shared mutual gift. For the low cost I paid for it on Smashwords, it is worth every penny.

What an amazing read! I decided to interview Alex while I had the chance. As a fellow writer, I wanted to learn more about his writing process! 

1)    Can you tell us a little about yourself?  I was born in the UK but always wanted to leave. Canada or America were the two places on my list where I wanted to end up. However, I met my wife and when she was pregnant with our first child we decided to relocate to her home town in The Netherlands. We moved in 2006, and now, three children later we are settled and just enjoying life.

2)    Please tell us about your novel. Highway to Hell is a horror novel and the first in a trilogy It is a novel that on its own discusses the concept of sin and atonement. The novel follows a group of characters who die at the start of the novel and are then forced to face their past sins in various Chambers of Hell. The do not actually meet until the mid-point of the novel after having been rescued from Hell. Together they are sent out into the multi-layered universe that is hell in order to save not only their world, but existence itself.

3)    What was your favorite part about writing Highway to Hell? I loved every moment of writing it. I love writing, putting word after word on a page is one of the best things in the world. It relaxes me and helps me let go of things. However, I if you ask me to choose a section of the novel I enjoyed the most, it would be Helen’s Chamber. I just love Luther, the demon who tries to break her. I am trying so hard to work him back into the novel later on.

4)    Would you say Highway to Hell is character driven or plot driven? I would like to think it is a bit of both. I guess it starts off character driven as I focus on introducing each character individually, explaining who they are rather than telling the tale. The second half is more plot driven as I am setting up the rest of the books. I think that the trilogy as a whole will have a nice mix of the two. There are certain characters – I won’t give anything away – that are certain characters that need to suffer further in order to move the plot along.

5)    When I first read the premises, I knew I wanted to read your novel.  What inspired you to explore the heavy themes in the story? Did you experience any roadblocks while getting into the different characters? This will sound crazy, and I don’t expect anybody to get the link here, because my mind seems to work in very strange ways, but the inspiration for the novel was a Golf Course. Not even a real one, but just the concept of a plain old 18-hole golf course. I told you my mind was strange.

There were several roadblocks along the way. I must have written the first 15,000 words at least half a dozen times before I finally settled. My main problem was I had too many ideas and couldn’t think of a way to tie them together. It took me a long time before I realized that it was actually two different books. There was no way to tie them together and so when I split them – the golf course was the issue and will be the next book I write after the Highway trilogy is finished – everything fell into place.

6)    When people hear your novel contains scary demons and tough angels – what kind of response do they give you? I get mixed responses that is for sure. So far in terms of reviews the response has been great. The worst comment I have heard was that one chapter was a bit slow. It that is the worst I did then I am delighted. I will be honest and say that I think a lot of people may be put off by the concept when they first hear it. I am hoping that the more reviews I get the more curious people will be. Kind of a sleeper hit.

7)    What would you say your greatest strength as a writer is? I have been told that I paint a good picture with my words. I also have a very overactive imagination and that helps me no end when it comes to thinking up stories, scenes or events in my novels.

8)    How would you describe your writing process? Do you make an outline first?  I always make an outline, but very rarely am I still on track with it by the end of the first chapter. I tend to plan a bit then write. I often write past the plan because I find a kind of flow with things, then when I start to slow down or see things are getting a bit flat, I sit down and plan again from where I am. This has led to me deleting up to 20,000 words in one go to get back to where I was last on track. It sounds chaotic but it is the way that seems to work for me. I am hoping that as I develop as a writer I will get better at seeing when things are running out of steam before it gets to that point.

9)    I love reading independent authors. Do you have a favorite you can recommend? I am currently reading Tarranau by James Tallett. It is a fantasy tale and the first in two trilogies set within the same world. It is probably one of my favorite books this year and a lot of those have not been indie written. On the YA front, I am really excited by Red by Kait Nolan. I have plans for a YA or possible younger series of novels and am planning on reading more in that genre.

10)           Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone considering self-publishing? Just do it. I am so happy I did. It doesn’t stop you for still looking for a traditional outlet for your work. If anything it helps because you can build up your own reader platform to send along with your synopsis and query letters.

11)           Your novel’s cover is amazing. Do you enjoy that aspect of publishing? Yes I did. I did the cover last, and couldn’t find the image I had in mind. When I saw the image I used, I loved it from the start. I had to change the title of the novel, but actually it fitted much better. I am lucky that my brother in law is a graphic designer and created the cover art for free. He has just started his own company and so my timing was great. ( If anybody is interested in art, book trailers or any sort of promo material they can email him at – just tell him (Eelco) that I sent you.

12)           What are your future plans in writing? I hope there is part 2 in the works. Currently I am 65,000 words into the Highway sequel and have the third part ready in my head. After that I have about 10 novels planned out two of which are potential series. I have enough to keep me going for a few years yet.

13)           Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? Just a great big thank you for hosting me and for asking me these questions. Thanks to everybody who bought that book, and shame on you to those who haven’t. I’m kidding about the latter part of course. I am just grateful to have the opportunity to put my work out there in a market that is fiercely competitive to say the least. Every sale and every review is an achievement that I am eternally thankful for.

Thank you so much for the interview!

I invite all of my friends to leave a comment and check Alex's blog out. He is on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook!


Alex Laybourne said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today Bonnie. I am honoured, and thank you and your husband for the great reviews.

Rob Adams said...

I am in complete agreement that "splatterpunk" has become synonymous with horror--unfortunately. As a reader and a writer, I certainly appreciate the artfulness and subtlety of a writer implying the gore rather than rubbing the reader's face into it. Implied details kick-start the reader's imagination, which can hen be manipulated in all sorts of evil ways. ;)

Alex Laybourne said...

Exactly Rob. Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to gore there was never a truer word. As I said in my post, I am not against gore, and have seen plenty of movies that make Saw look like PG13 movie, but the gore had a point, and it was done in a fashion that worked. But movies are books are different things. Using the readers imagination is always going to create more effect than describing everything for them.




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