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:
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!