It is with great pleasure that I bring to you an interview with Alex Laybourne, author of Highway to Hell.
Alex : For as long as I can remember, I have always written. I started reading at a young age, and I was hooked. I remember reading IT when I was about 10 years old. It didn’t scare me, it astounded me. My eyes had been opened to a new world. I remember the very moment I decided to write my first book. I was about 15, on holiday in Spain with a friend and his family. The resort shut down for the siesta every afternoon and I was bored, sitting in the apartment, and suddenly I got this idea, and I just had to write it down. Then something else came alone, and then I thought, well, what if they did this, and before I knew it I had planned out the whole novel. Of course it was utter trite, I was 15 and didn’t know a thing about the world, but I will never forget that moment.
Robin: How long does it take you to write a book?
Alex: It depends on the length of the book. I am averaging around 2000 words a day and I write seven days a week if I can. I guess I would write the first draft of a novel in two months, then another two for editing. With the rest time in between, and short stories and things that I will sometimes sit down to write while working on a bigger novel, you could probably say I can produce a fully completed, ready to be published novel every six months. As I mentioned, I tend to write short stories at the same time, so will probably in that period write three or four short stories of 5000 – 7000 words also.
Robin: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Alex: My schedule is hectic. I work a full time job, and have four children aged 6, 4, 2, and 5 months. So I write whenever I can. My alarm goes at 4.30 every day, normally this includes the weekends also. I write until the kids wake up, and then, on weekdays I write during my lunch break and in the evening once the kids are in bed. On the weekend I will pick off paragraphs and sentences here and there throughout the day, and then again, once the kids have gone to bed in the evening.
Robin: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Alex: Oh blimey, I have so many quirks, if I listed them all I would probably be locked away. Let’s keep it relatively sane and say talking to myself. I am always talking to myself, arguing my different characters points of view, on how to pull through a scene. Sometimes a new idea will hit me and I will call out while in the office or something too, but people are getting used to me now.
Robin: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Alex: They just come to me. I got the idea for one of my favorite short stories “Rain of Blood” while sitting on the seafront during lunch. I was eating an ice cream with a colleague and a bit melted and fell to the floor, and I said, imagine if it rained blood, and the story just grew from there. I have a lot of ideas while driving to work too. It would seem that the more inopportune the moment, the better the idea is.
Robin: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Alex: I am always writing, writing is my passion, I love every part of the process. However, when I am not behind the keyboard I am invariably out and about with the kids. I like taking them to the big indoor play areas because I also get to run around and go on the slides and things. Sometimes it is good to just let go and be a kid again. We grow up too fast and lose sight of the fun in the world.
Robin: What does your family think of your writing?
Alex: They support me. My children are still rather young, but my eldest always says that he wants to be a writer just like me. My family all buys me books and ask how things are going. However, my subject matter is a little on the dark side, while they are more often than not fans of the rather more everyday brand of fiction. I have often freaked out my wife by asking her some disturbing question just before she falls asleep.
Robin: Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Alex: The age old advice is the best. Write and read every day. Nothing you write as a first draft will be perfect, but learn to edit, get an editor and work together to chip away the problems, and smooth out the rough edges. Don’t be afraid of criticism, and brace yourself for negativity, because deserved or not, it is out there. Listen to others, the writing community is a wonderful place, people help each other out and are always willing to lend a hand when it is needed. Just don’t be afraid to ask. Be confident. If you write what it true to you, then critics and everything else be damned. I write what I feel, what I am passionate about. I won’t write for the masses, or simply to follow trends. Be true to yourself, be true to your writing and let the world see who you are. Don’t let them push you around or put you down. At the end of the day as long as you can look at a piece of work and say ‘This is me, this is my best effort and I am proud’ then nobody can take it away from you.
Robin: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Alex: I speak to a few people who have read my book, but the majority are writers themselves, so we already had a connections. In general the response to my novel has been successful, but with only one published piece of work out there it is hard to tell what the general consensus of my abilities really is. I have plans to get a lot of titles out this year, but, as I said in the previous question, people thoughts and responses are good, but only for the ego. I will always be true to myself, and only then can I consider myself to be a success.
Robin: What do you think makes a good story?
Alex: A good story is something that you feel, that comes alive when you are reading it or writing it. It grabs you and pulls you deep into fold and won’t let you go, even after you have closed that back cover,. A good story is one that the writer has cared about, that they were passionate about. A good story doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs belief, and that is something that can only be done when the writer themselves is truly believing in what they are creating. We are very quick to judge but in my view, writing is art, it is not just about the story, but about expression, about passion. It should be an experience on multiple levels, and leave you thinking… wow, I want more.
List of Alex Laybourne’s Books:
Highway to Hell
Musings of a Hideous Mind (Hideous Mind Series)
Musings of a Hideous Mind Volume II
Trials and Tribulations (Highway to Hell) (Volume 2)
Musings of a Hideous Mind Volume III
If You Go Down to the Woods Today
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