Posted by solitaireparke
“Think of this as Purgatory – I will try to keep to your simple way of categorizing things. There are many places just like this, realms or realities that exist alongside your own, within your own, and a near infinite number which exist in the different pathways of time. This you will see for yourselves, I am sure. These worlds exist to house those who had died. To allow them time for contemplation, and to give us time to judge them. Some worlds are filled with those who led a righteous life, one worthy of a happy eternity. Others are fire realms, nothing more than holding pens for the cattle that will be marched below to where out fallen brother leads his hedonistic life. Then there are many filled with lost souls; empty, lonely places void of all feeling; ghost worlds filled with those that were forgotten, left behind when it was their time to rise… or fall. These worlds all exist separate from each other. Those who dwell or wait in one know nothing about the others. Although memory of your own world remains, given time it fades. Those in the fire realms seem to remember the longest. They are the ones who grasp onto their human memories, as if it could somehow help them find redemption. While those who are righteous are given a mere taste of what awaits them and realize that there was no point to their lives. They are a short test which will determine your place in eternity. Pass and you will be rewarded, fail and punishment is a certainty, do neither and you will be destined to carry on living your mediocre existence in a world fitting to the task; a place such as this, for instance. This community, if you would like to call it that, is long abandoned. The souls simply fell from existence. In these outer worlds the boundaries that keep them sustained are weakened, bending all the time. It is not unheard of for these dimensions to disappear along with everybody in them. This was where we needed to bring you, for it is here that the boundaries are weakest. There is a war coming, a fight that has been brewing beneath the surface of all worlds since before time, and it is here that the first tears will appear. Once they start they cannot be stopped, and given time the barriers will break and all worlds will collide. Your earth, your mortal life, the kingdom of God will come crashing down from the heavens while the fiery underbelly of Hell will rise up and Lucifer, our fallen brother, will try once more to take control. This will not happen; it must not. Do you understand me?” Raguel’s eyes seemed to focus on all of them individually, yet simultaneously. It held them captive and allowed them all to see that this angel was far from the stereotype.
The group stood in silence. The words they had just heard were heavy to digest, and their brains had been sluggish before Raguel started, and so it took a while for everything to sink in. When it finally did they all had to fight back the urge to laugh, especially Graham who, despite his age, or possibly as a result of his age, was the most skeptical and cynical of them all. Once the laughter was contained without even so much as a nose snort, they all returned their attentions to Raguel, but instead of continuing with his explanation, he simple stared at them. There was a flash of light and a loud rustle of feathers. The wind created as the angel took flight brought tears to their eyes. Raguel was gone before any of them could register anything, the wind and sound apparently coming after the fact. All five of them had been looking straight at him, or so they would swear in later conversations, but yet none of them saw him leave. Like the greatest magician in the world he was there one second and vanished like the victim of a David Copperfield illusion the next.
“Forgive Raguel; he does not deal with mortals well. He is a warrior through and through. Maintaining the balance is his purpose, keeping a watchful eye on us is his responsibility. The troubles of our father’s favorite creation are of little and no concern to him,” the angel who had been introduced as Nemamiah said. His words were noticeably more cordial than Raguel’s had been.
Posted by solitaireparke
It is an honor and a pleasure to have my friend and fellow author, Alex Laybourne on the blog today! Alex is the ultimate in Horror writer, and his debut novel, “Highway To Hell”, demonstrates this all too well with incredibly macabre, yet well-crafted depictions of a man or woman’s own personal Hell! I hope you enjoy reading the interview and excerpt – be sure to follow his blog to stay updated on the release of the next book in the trilogy and any other future projects!
MEET AUTHOR ALEX LAYBOURNE
Born and raised in the coastal English town 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 30 minutes’ drive away and so spent most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in 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, where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue everything basically, and when the time is right, I can simply pluck them from the allotment of my mind like carrots and serve them up on the pages of whatever work is to be their home.
I am married and have three children and my biggest dream for them is that they grow up to spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is
I am always interested in making new friends both readers and writers alike. You can find me most hours of the day on Twitter under the name @vanplank or on Facebook. If you really like me, you can always hop on over to my blog www.alexlaybourne.com and see what goes on inside my mind.
INTERVIEW WITH ALEX LAYBOURNE, AUTHOR OF “HIGHWAY TO HELL”
Name three interesting facts about yourself.
Three things… um, I taught myself Dutch in one year just by immersing myself in the culture. No lessons. I made an arrest my first night with the English Police (I was a Special Constable). It took me 45 minutes when the average is 12 months. If I talk to an Irish person for too long, I just start talking in this ridiculously fake Irish accent. It really is terrible, and I can’t stop it. That’s not really interesting, but I guess I’m pretty boring really ha.
What do you do when you are not writing? Any hobbies?
Playing with the kids ( I have 4 of them… well 3.5 currently), when I have some free time, I love working out.
Rocky, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Omen, Jaws, too many to mention haha
I don’t listen to much, only when exercising or driving. I have an eclectic mix from Metallica to Johnny Cash. I would say Country is what draws me the most.
Did you listen to any particular music for inspiration while writing “Highway to Hell”?
Not really, unless the sound of crying babies and shouting children counts. My writing is all done at home in my free time. With three kids running around it is hard to find quiet time. I guess the theme tune to Dora is as close to music as it gets.
Is there anyone who has influenced/encouraged you to write? Who and how/why?
My wife has stood behind me, but I have to say the greatest encouragement I have found is within the writing community itself. Everybody is motivating, and encourages each other. It is awesome to be a part of it.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stephen King has been a large influence on me. His ability to take the smallest thing and turn it into a story; Gerald’s Game was one I will always remember. A woman tied to a bed, her husband dead at her feet. I mean it sounds like a scene not an entire novel.
What about the horror genre interests you? Is this what inspired you to write horror?
I never intended to write horror. It was just that every story I wrote went down this dark path. One day I just took a step back and look at it and thought. Ok, I’m going to write horror. I have never looked back. Horror is a great genre, because you can incorporate everything, comedy, romance, suspense etc.
What was the first horror book/story you remember reading?
I remember reading IT from Stephen King when I was about 11.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nothing intentional, I think there probably are little messages that could be gleaned. It is the same for every novel, but I didn’t write it thinking, well, I hope people understand that message in this chapter.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing “Highway to Hell” to life?
Time was the main problem. As I said, with three kids running around and a full time job, I was restricted to about an hour a day, maybe a little more. Other than that, the novel just kind of wrote itself. It took me a while to settle on how to write it, but once I stripped the story down I realized I was writing two novels in one. I separated the ideas, and Highway to Hell was born.
What do you think readers will find the most frightening while reading your book?
I guess the start of the book. It is very graphic when it introduces the characters. You will need a strong stomach to read them. The second half of the novel is more about setting up the tone for the next installment. I hope that the images of Hell that I create will stick in peoples mind after they have finished reading it.
Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
I always wanted to go the traditional route, but after about 30 rejections from publishers the world over, I realized that maybe I should look at going it alone. That was when I started reading all about the Indie Author wave that was starting to build. I loved what I read, and I learned so much. The book wasn’t ready, not really, so I re-edited it, made it much stronger and then just kind of threw caution to the wind and published it. It worked out quite well, as I have now signed a contract with MayDecember Publications. Highway to Hell will be re-released at the end of this year with the second of the trilogy coming the beginning of 2013.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism I ever reactive comes from myself. I am never satisfied with that I write, I always think things could be tweaked and tightened, but if I listened to myself, I would never finish a book. The best compliment was being compared to Stephen King. Several people mentioned it and it made my day.
Can you tell us about your upcoming project/book?
I have two books completed, the first two books in the Highway to Hell trilogy. They are due to be published at the end of 2012 and start of 2013 respectively. I am currently working on a collection of short stories, and a new novel. It is a psychological thriller and something totally different to Highway to Hell. After that, I will write part three of my trilogy.
Congratulations to you Alex for your outstanding news! You recently posted on your blog that you were signed by May December Publications!
What was your initial reaction when you realized “Highway to Hell” had been accepted by a publisher?
I stood outside in the street and did a little dance. It was 22:00, dark and the neighbors probably thought I was a little weird. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell people.
What are your goals now that you have achieved your dream of being published?
World Domination… I mean, my goals are the same, I will continue writing, and just see where the books take me. My goal is to be as successful as I can. With May December, I am on the right path, but it is still up to me to ensure that I stay there, and keep moving forward.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
It is simple advice and probably the same advice everybody gives. Write and read. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t write. Write every day, whether it is on your novel, or a short story, even a blog post. Write, it can be utter drivel and never see the light of day, but that doesn’t matter. You need to read. Reading makes us better writers, read as much as you can by as many writers and across as many genres as you can. Every writer offers you a new experience, and new perspective.
ABOUT ALEX’S BOOK
HIGHWAY TO HELL
Marcus, Becky, Richard, Helen, Sammy and Graham. All complete strangers, different ages, backgrounds and even countries, but they all have one major thing in common…They all must DIE.
Sentenced to offer their penance in the many chambers of Hell, their lives are nothing but a torturous experience. They are brought face to face with their past, their mistakes and the implications that had for others. Until one by one they are rescued and thrown together. Waking in a dying world, they are introduced to their rescuers who do anything but conform to their angelic stereotype.
Together, bonded by an unknown destiny the group is set on their quest; to find one individual buried deep within the many Hell worlds. Not only does the fate of their world rest on their shoulders, but that of existence itself.
Later today I will be posting an excerpt from Alex Laybourne’s “Highway to Hell”!