Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alex Laybourne Takes Us to Hell and Back

"I cannot recall how long it took me to reach the final version of Highway to Hell, the version I am so proud of today, but one thing I am certain of, is that I am so happy I scrapped more words than actually ended up in the final version." - Alex Laybourne on editing.

 Alex Laybourne's desire to write is so strong, he gets up at 4 am to hack away at the keyboard before his four kids wake up. This is no small feat for someone who works a full time job. Like many horror writers, he's one of the nicest people you will ever know. He prides himself on keeping in contact with fans and is always willing to help a fellow writer. 
I'm bringing you an interview with him regarding his series, Highway to Hell. 

Katie: Where did the idea for Highway to Hell come from? I'm hearing AC/DC as I say that!

 Alex: When I first sat down to write Highway to Hell, I had no idea where it would lead. Heck, I didn’t even know what it was going to be about. In fact, the original premise never really made it into the final version. I had the idea in my head of a book set on a golf course. Each chapter being one hole (I’ll stop there with that because my next book ended up using this theme). This led me to researching anything and everything I could find connected to the number eighteen.

         I soon discovered that in Buddhist mythology there is the Diyu, a Hell governed by the Kings of Yama. Now, there are multiple ‘versions’ and interpretations of the Diyu, but as luck would have it, the one I stumbled upon had eighteen levels.

Katie: It sounds like the plan for this book sort of took a life of its own and on a golf course?

 Alex: My original plan was to have a man sent to hell on a mission I never quite ironed out. He was playing a game of golf, and got sucked into the Hell world after breaking an ancient seal. He would then move through each level, learning more about himself and his humanity as he went. Some holes went well for him, others went badly. I had planned to keep a running scorecard as you would when playing.

Katie: So, how did eighteen holes of horror work out for you?  

Alex: Needless to say, after writing about 40,000 words, I never got past the first hole. I just couldn’t quite figure out why the crap the guy would keep playing, keep walking, on his own, through hell. (Me neither Alex).

Katie: Obviously, you didn't give up. What did you do to make it work?

Alex: After several months of trial and error I came very close to giving up. Then, out of nowhere an idea came to me. Not one man, but a group. Trapped in Hell, forced to escape, they could move through the levels as they searched for an escape.

           The first draft of Highway came in at 120,000 words, and ran in a totally different direction than I had envisioned. One I didn’t even like, so I scrapped around 50,000 words… again, and came at it from a different angle. I added another figure from the Buddhist mythology, Jizu, a small monk who can travel hell without fear. He would act as a guide for the group as they sought their redemption.

Katie: It sounds like this took a long time to write.  Are you happy with your final version after cutting so much?

Alex: I cannot recall how long it took me to reach the final version of Highway to Hell, the version I am so proud of today, but one thing I am certain of, is that I am so happy I scrapped more words than actually ended up in the final version.


Born and raised in the coastal English town of 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 a 30 minutes drive away and spent most of my free time alone which gave me time to read and write. The friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them on 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. 

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 knowing that people enjoy what I produce.

How to Find Alex:                                                          Where to Buy His Work:  
 Blog                                                                                     Highway to Hell 
           Author Page                                                                       Trials and Tribulations


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