Proust Questionnaire with Horror Writer Luke Walker is Lit with Little Lights!

As promised, I would like to share my interview with horror author Luke Walker, on the soon to be eve of his North American release of HOMETOWN. The Proust-like Questionnaire I did with fellow Purgatoruim contributors went over so well, I invited Luke to take a similar questionnaire. I’d like to make this a semi-regular feature. It’s always interesting and entertaining to see how these questions are handled. Luke’s responses solidifies this theory for me. You’re going to enjoy this!

Without further ado, here it is:

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Horror Writer – LUKE WALKER

PROUST(ISH) QUESTIONNAIRE WITH LUKE WALKER

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 Time spent with my wife. It’s as simple as that.

 2. What is it about the horror genre that connects with you as a writer?

 I’ve thought about this a lot over time and never come up with a single answer. I think it’s just the way I’m built. I like to see what’s going under the surface and in the dark. Some people don’t like to poke around in the places we’re not supposed to talk about and that’s cool for them. I think exploring the more unpleasant sides of life means we can appreciate the light a little more, and appreciate how fragile it can be.

 3. What is your greatest fear?

 Without question, the dentist. You can keep your futility of existence, your self-destructive nature of the human condition, your dying alone and unloved and you can even keep your spiders. Spare me from the dentist.

 4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?

 It has to be horror. The horror genre covers a much wider area than a lot of people believe which means all the more books and writers to discover. There’s so much to horror than blood and guts and there are definite differences between horrifying a reader, terrifying them or simply grossing them out. Likewise, horror can go into fantastical realms as equally well as it can the mundane and everyday. No matter how many books I read, there’s also more to discover about the genre and more facets to explore.

 5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?

 Without question, the King. Stephen King has always had that indefinable talent and ability to draw the reader in and to make them want to spend their time with his characters whether they’re the good guys, the villains, dead, alive or somewhere in between. If proof of his ability is needed, it’s in people who’ve never read one of his books knowing who his characters are. Outside the actual books, the man has done so much to bring horror into the world of normal, real things and that is almost always more frightening to a reader or a viewer than horror outside their familiar lives.

 6. Has your idea of horror changed from the time you first started reading it to your perception of it now as a writer?

 I don’t know if my idea of it has changed, but the genre itself has obviously undergone changes from my first readings of 70s pulp novels (all with lurid and garish covers) to now when horror and horrific imagery can be found in many more places. As with any area of fiction, tastes and requirements from readers alter over time; publishers and writers will always respond to that, but it’s obviously important not to force those changes. Readers know what they like and it’s when they’re given an honest tale. The best writers don’t jump on bandwagons; they tell their stories with honesty.

 7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

 It’s not really a virtue but I have a big problem with style over substance. It’s all well and good being cool and funny, but you need to back that up with something below the surface. I’ve come across a few writers over the last few years who present a persona of the hard living, hard drinking author and then you read their stuff which turns out to be average at best. But their image is celebrated and apparently what sells them so they keep it up. Give me a writer who just wants to tell a tale and can do so over the guy who acts like the stereotypical writer.

 8. What life experience(s) do you draw from when it comes to working in your chosen genre?

 You name it, I’ve drawn on it or will for future work. Most of the time, I do so without realising. It’s only when I finish a piece that I might recognise something from my own experiences and that’s fine with me. An overheard conversation, a joke I heard years ago, a recent holiday, an illness, someone I used to know but might not have seen in a while or being convinced as a little kid that the clump of coats at the bottom of the stairs was a person – I’ll take inspiration wherever it comes from.

 9. What else have you written?

 Hometown is my most recent published work. I have a new novel, Ascent, which will be published in June. I’ve got a collection of short horror stories, Die Laughing, a Lovecraftian novella called Mirror Of The Nameless, and I’ve published several short stories either online or in print. Obviously there are the usual pieces that will never see the light of day; they’re locked away in a dungeon and there they’ll stay.

 10. When and where were you most afraid?

 Luckily, I’ve never been in a position of real fear. The odd thing like doing a parachute jump was pretty hairy, but that was more ‘oh my god the sky is so big and I’m so small’ awe than outright fear. For someone who writes a lot about fear, I’ve been lucky to rarely experience it.

 11. Which talent would you most like to have?

 I have zero talent in a few areas: anything sporty or athletic; drawing; numbers. It doesn’t exactly hold me back but being able to do something like that to a small extent would be a nice change.

 12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

 A cat. Eat, sleep, get stroked, repeat. Also, cats are cool and everyone knows this.

 13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

 There’s a hell of a lot of hate around these days. Obviously that’s always been the case, but it’s easier now for people to shout about it and be heard by others who feel the same. The end result is people who feed off each other’s hate and misery and while they don’t feel better about it, they do feel validated. They feel their hate and misery is justified which feeds on itself. That’s about as low as it gets.

 14. What are your three deserted island books?

 Stephen King’s It; 1984; The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler.

 15. Who are your favorite writers?

 Loads. Off the top of my head: Stephen King, Gary McMahon, Edgar Allen Poe, Alison Littlewood, Clive Barker, Pat Barker, HP Lovecraft, Sarah Pinborough, Gene Kemp, Neil Gaiman, Bram stoker, Clark Ashton Smith, Penelope Lively. And more I’ve forgotten and will kick myself for doing so.

16. Who is your hero of fiction?

The kids from IT, the good guys from Dracula and Winston Smith. OK, it doesn’t end well for all of them but they keep going even when everything is as dark as it can get. That’s something I try to bear in mind for my own characters. Real life, too.

 17. What sound grates on you more than any other?

The laughter of children. Joking. A fork on a plate is nasty. It makes my teeth itch just thinking about it.

 18. How would you like to die?

Wow. That’s a heavy question to answer on a Saturday morning. I don’t know about method of death, but knowing I wrote some books people hopefully liked, and that I was loved and gave love. And nowhere near a dentist.

 19. What sound brings you deep joy?

My email doesn’t ping but I’d imagine if it did when I get an acceptance from a publisher, that would be nice. I might change my settings so it makes a noise but only when it’s an acceptance. Other than that, when one of my cats jumps on to my lap is a nice sound. Not so much when they launch themselves off, though.

 20. What is your motto?

 Something that keeps coming up in my books. ‘The world is dark, but it is lit with little lights.’

Pick up Luke’s HOMETOWN at Amazon!

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HOMETOWN by LUKE WALKER

AMAZON USA BUY LINK – AVAILABLE FEB 1 2017

AMAZON CANADA BUY LINK – AVAILABLE FEB 1 2017

You can read CHAPTER ONE OF HOMETOWN IN MY PREVIOUS POST ON LUKE WALKER BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

Hometown – A Novel by Luke Walker – Coming Feb 1st!

Today, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a fellow author. On the eve of the eve of the book launch for the horror anthology PURGATORIUM, in which my short story DUBIOUS PICKLES AND THE CURIOSITY OF ARBOUR LEVESQUE appears, I bring you British horror author LUKE WALKER. His novel HOMETOWN is celebrating its North American debut.

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Luke Walker – Author of Die Laughing, Mirror (of the) Nameless, Hometown…

In the coming days, I will have an interview with Luke…based on the recent ones I carried out with the contributors of Purgatorium. The Proustian Questionnaire seemed to be a success, and I would like to implement it as a semi-regular feature here. So look forward to reading Walker’s responses shortly.

In the mean time, here’s the cover of HOMETOWN, and the blurb for the story…

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SYNOPSIS for HOMETOWN:

Stu Brennan and his friends are trapped in surroundings horribly familiar and completely alien. Their hometown has become a city of human and inhuman monsters since the suicide of their friend Geri turned her nightmares into flesh. Now Stu and the others must fight their way past cannibals and faceless torturers if they are to have any chance of uncovering the truth behind Geri’s death and escaping her private hell.

But while they battle to survive in the endless night, Stu’s wife is desperately searching for him, all the while unaware of the unspeakable horror drawing closer with every moment—a horror eager to turn her last moments into agony. If it finds her, there’ll be no way back for Geri’s old friends and nobody to stop the same depraved evil that destroyed Geri from moving on to its next target.

Stu’s baby daughter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR…

Luke Walker was born in England in 1977. He grew up reading his brother’s collection of James Herbert paperbacks, his dad’s Stephen King collection and various editions of the Pan Book of Horror, which some might say shaped him into the man he is today. Now 39, he has been writing horror novels and short stories for as long as he can remember. After leaving school with a tiny handful of qualifications and a deep love of books, Luke works full time in a library. He has also had a job as a hospital orderly and can say with some confidence that a severed leg in a biowaste bag is surprisingly heavy. Luke lives with his wife, two cats and more horror films than he knows what to do with.

There is one thing that comes through when reading that bio. Having never hefted a bag containing a severed leg, I have not yet truly lived! Mayhaps his tenure in that field has served him well in his writing life.

How about the first chapter of HOMETOWN to whet your appetite?

Inside Stu Brennan’s head, a dead woman screamed his name.

Stu’s hand jerked, his cup flew and smashed against the sink. Coffee splashed the floor. The crash of the breaking cup rang around the little staffroom and the scream filled his head again.

He slammed his hands against his ears, closed his eyes and held his breath. For a beat of a few silent seconds, there was nothing but his own interior voice, desperate to reassure him with simple noises of comfort. Then he heard his name a third time, a horrific bellow behind his eyes.

Stu collapsed; his hand struck the splashes of coffee and a piece of his broken cup.

He knew who was calling his name.

This isn’t happening.

The thought was so solid, so comforting it was easy to think it was true.

This isn’t happening. This is not happening.

Right. He was at work; this was a Tuesday morning; the other shops and the rest of Dalry were all right outside and everything was where it should be so there was no way this was happening.

His legs refused to work properly and he had to move somewhere between a crawl and a shuffle for the short distance towards the toilet. Pulling himself up and using the edge of the sink as leverage, Stu staggered a couple of steps to the toilet door. Breathing much too quickly, he pushed it shut, locked it and dropped onto the lavatory.

The thud of music from below on the shop floor pounded in steady beats. Stu held on to the sound with as much focus as he could. Through his panic and confusion, he tried to picture Rich downstairs, Rich sorting the tills, Rich probably tapping on the counter to the rhythm of the music as he readied the shop for opening.

Stu took a few deep breaths. Doing so helped to bring some small degree of focus and rational thought.

Stand up. Wash hands. Sort out the mess he’d made with his coffee. Make another drink. Sit in front of his computer before anyone else arrived at work. Talk to people. Be normal.

Rational thought spoke again while he remained perfectly still. Sandra was in the cash office and the only reason she wouldn’t have heard the breaking cup was down to her door being shut. There was nothing to stop her from needing the loo or coming out to make her own drink. What would she think if she saw the mess and nobody cleaning it up? How could he explain it?

Sorry, boss. I just heard my name shouted inside my head by someone who can’t be speaking to me and I needed a sit down.

Stu shook and swallowed the ugly taste of vomit. He closed his eyes again. Images swam in front of him and his eyes flew open. The images remained.

He saw a house and his first thought was this was his house. The thought was wrong.

He stood in front of his parents’ house, close to the wide front garden, the low wall bordering his mother’s flowers and the healthy green of the grass. Their car sat on the long drive and that was normal. What wasn’t normal were the broken windows, the black stain of fire damage on the bricks and the spray paint covering the smashed in door.

Stu heard his shout of horrified negation despite being aware of his lips clamped together and his tongue immobile with shock. His feet moved, forcing him to back away, and he tripped on the uneven pavement. He dropped, landed heavily and his hands slapped down on dark stains. Wet stains.

Cold blood covered his fingers and palms. And still the horror arguing against this filled his head, still he couldn’t do a thing but see it all here, all right in front of him: his parents’ house, his childhood home like something out of a horror film, while the moon shone and his breath rose and the rapid thud of running feet drew closer.

Running to him. Dozens of people by the sound of it, their shoes and boots thundering on the ground as they sprinted towards him. Stu lunged upright, panic swallowing him.

The runners were coming from both ends of the road. The only way to go was forward, into the house.

Into the black of the house.

They were coming closer. They were coming and they were coming for him.

‘Stu?’

His eyes jerked open and strained to focus on the white of the toilet wall. The toilet, the little sink, the window behind him, open to let in the cool air of a normal October day. Everything was as it should be.

Apart from the faraway echo of the final scream in his head and the crash of all the running feet from somewhere else.

‘Stu?’

Stu did his best to control his panicked thoughts. It was Rich outside. He was at work in his record shop, in the toilet at work, and Rich was outside the door.

‘Stu? You in there?’

Rich’s voice edged close to panic, a ridiculous idea but a fact with which Stu couldn’t argue.

‘Yeah. Out in a sec,’ Stu said, aware of the tremor in his voice. ‘Miles away. Sorry.’

The double meaning of his last few words hit him and he swallowed a mad laugh. He gripped the sink as hard as he could and pulled himself up. His face in the mirror was much too white, much too strained.

What the hell is this?

‘Want me to clear up your mess?’ Rich asked.

‘No. I’ll do it.’

‘All right. Just make sure you open the window if you’ve done a stinker.’

Stu listened to Rich walk from the staffroom to the stockroom and he glanced at his watch. Quarter to nine. Less than two minutes had elapsed since he’d picked up his coffee and heard the first scream.

No scream. There was no fucking scream.

He had to phone Kirsty. Had to tell her.

Tell her what?

He tried to formulate an answer, tried to force one to make sense. The effort was too much and the attempt collapsed into nothing.

Call Kirsty. Of course. And tell her he’d either gone nuts or he was being haunted.

A scent breathed, faint but unmistakeable. Against his will, he inhaled.

The aroma of perfume filled his nostrils before fading. Memory came to life and Stu’s shocked whisper followed it in one breath.

‘Oh my God.’

The perfume shop. Three days before her twentieth birthday. Going into the shop with Will; Will talking to the woman behind the counter, telling her what he wanted and it was a birthday present so he needed a big bottle, needed it in a nice bag.

Stu placed a gentle finger on the bridge of his nose, remembering the smell of the perfume, remembering catching the scent of it three days later when they’d all been in the pub for her birthday. A warm night in September, the lights from traffic outside striking the window they sat opposite and …

‘Poison. She liked Poison. It was her favourite.’

Staring at his reflection, Stu struggled not to weep.

Here’s Luke’s AMAZON page, along with a direct buy link to HOMETOWN, should you wish to check out his works:

LUKE WALKER AMAZON PAGE

HOMETOWN ON AMAZON USA

HOMETOWN ON AMAZON CANADA

Look for the Luke Walker Proustian Questionnaire in the coming days! Enjoy his work today…

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