DM: What made you want to write horror fiction? What do you consider to be its attractions over other genres and mainstream fiction?
When I started writing, though, I found myself focusing more and more on genre fiction. Those were simply the ideas that came to me. They were the ones that made my fingers tingle. William Faulkner said, ‘I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it’. I get that completely. I discovered what I love most in literature through writing, and it’s completely changed my reading habits. The last couple of times I picked up a mainstream book I ended up thinking, ‘what’s the point?’
Ultimately, I’m drawn to horror because it looks at issues that are deeply ingrained in me. As a genre, it isn’t just about giving people a scare. Horror is concerned with the mysteries in life and death – the things we can’t understand, or solve, or ever be entirely reconciled to. Not to mention the fact that I’m a born worrier. When you’re always thinking of what’s the worst that can happen, I guess that will come out in your fiction!
DM: Which writers influenced your early work and how, if at all, have your influences changed throughout your career?
Among the newer voices in horror, I enjoy Sarah Langan’s novels – they’re dark, and gritty, and chilling. I also like Nate Kenyon and Joe Hill. On this side of the pond we have amazing writers like Graham Joyce – The Tooth Fairy is wonderful - Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, Conrad Williams and Christopher Fowler.
Not really an influence as such, but I also have a secret penchant for Derek Landy’s Skulduggery books. A wisecracking skeleton detective – what’s not to love?! Rupert Degas’s audio versions are brilliant for a long drive.
DM: In light of you placing a story with Crimewave, are you interested in the intersections between crime and horror? What crime fiction do you consider to be an influence on your work?
AL: Genres often bleed into each other and crime/horror are easy bedfellows in that both can look at the dark side of human nature. My story in Crimewave is right on the boundary between the two - the prison setting and characters lend themselves to crime fiction, but the plot and resolution stray more into the supernatural and mysterious. I’ve come at it more from a horror angle, I guess, although this is the ‘ghost’ issue of Crimewave and the magazine does seem to favour stories in that kind of borderland.
I do read some crime fiction, though not so much as horror. I tend to prefer novels which have other-worldly forces at work! I do admire the sometimes complex plotting and intricate interlacing of events to be found in crime. Recently I enjoyed Blacklands by Belinda Bauer – an unusual one which has a child protagonist becoming involved with a serial killer.
DM: Could you tell me about your first novel, A Cold Season? What have been your experiences when trying to find a publisher for it?
My experiences of trying to find a publisher are few and narrow at the moment! I wrote it during the really cold spell we had last winter (appropriately enough) and didn’t finish the editing process until about September. I’ve only submitted it to one agent so far, but I’m starting to think about submitting direct to publishers, probably starting in the New Year. Subbing short fiction to the independent presses is a good way to gain awareness of the markets and I met some great people at Fantasycon so I will start with people I know. It would be nice if it found a home during another snowy spell! In the meantime, I’ve started writing the next one…
DM: Which leads neatly to my final question: what are your plans for 2011? Could you give our readers an insight into what your second novel will be about?
AL: The new novel is set partly in a small town, partly in London, though a London that is peopled with angels and demons as well as humans. It’s about divided loyalties, and what you do when you really have become your own worst enemy. At least, I hope that’s what it’s going to be about. It probably won’t be fixed in my own mind until after I’ve written it (it’s that William Faulkner thing again!).
There are so many things I’d like to do next year, time permitting. I want to finish drafting the novel, and then dedicate some time to short stories again. No doubt there’ll be a post-novel slump when I wonder where on earth that big project has gone that has been occupying my days...but short stories are pretty much pure fun, and it’d be good to let my imagination fly off in different directions for a while. I’d also like to start thinking about a collection, and I want to do something thematically linked, so that will mean producing some new material.
Then it’ll be time to go back and edit the current novel, and maybe think about the next one...