Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and 'give it up big-style' for horror author Wayne Simmons!
Handsome devil, isn't he? You can thank Lee 'Goatboy' Hartnup for that rather fetching shot.
Here's how he tells it:
Belfast born, Wayne Simmons, has been loitering with intent around the horror genre for some years. Having scribbled reviews and interviews for various zines, Wayne released his debut horror novel, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS in 2008. The book was received well by both fans of the genre and reviewers alike.
An extended version of DDG has just been released through Snowbooks.
A quick word about Flu.
As is so often the case, the real test isn't the originality of the premise, but the originality of what the author does with it, and what Wayne does with Flu is really bloody good.
In his SF novel Sacrifice Of Fools, Ian McDonald dropped the well-worn 'the aliens have landed' trope into Belfast, with its recently-troubled past and convoluted politics. In-depth characterisation and the willingness to explore the possibilities of both the premise and the setting make it a superb novel, a stand-out. Wayne, in Flu, gives the 'zombie apocalypse' trope the same kick.
It's about time the horror genre boasted a 'new wave' comparable to the one SF developed in the '60s, when authors like Moorcock, Ballard, Aldiss and M. John Harrison took the toys and tools the genre offered and allied them with a thoroughly modern sensibility and set of concerns. Of course, there've been writers doing that in the horror field for a long time now- Ramsey Campbell is the obvious one, and more recently authors like Nick Royle and Joel Lane. But Royle's fiction is more likely to be found on the general fiction shelf, and Lane's horror output- like much of the best work in the field- tends to manifest itself in shorter fiction. What's been long overdue is novel-length, cutting edge horror that can strive for commercial appeal. The emergence of writers like Conrad Williams, Gary McMahon and Joseph D'Lacey suggest that this might be upon us now. If it is, Wayne Simmons is a part of that wave. 'Scuse me while I grab my surfboard...
Anyway, enough pimping from me. I'm off to grab my copy of the new extended version of Drop Dead Gorgeous. Meanwhile: Heeeeeeeeeeeere's Wayne...
A great body of my writing, recently, has taken place on the train. This very blogpost, I’ll have you know, was born on the train, conceived by the union of a red biro pen and spiral notebook. And it’s a great way to maximise time – I still work 9-5 (4 days per week) and try to enjoy life with my ghoulfiend and Jack Russell Terrier (aka my family), so every second is precious.
But there’s something else about the train. It’s full of people and when you write character-based fiction, as I try to do, people-watching becomes more than just a sneaky past-time: it’s a vital part of the writing process. Not that these lovely folks beside me know any of that, of course (except, maybe, that one guy opposite with his arms folded, who seems to be getting more and more paranoid each time I rest my pen, look around the train, then start to write again).
When I write, I try to flesh out my characters until I feel like I’m creating actual people, alive in real life. This can be quite a surreal process. It’s like I’m living two lives, one where I interact with the people in my real life and then another where I enter another world, populated by another cast of characters – many of whom I begin to form an actual attachment to. I may sound insane, now, but this is when I write best; when the world I’m writing about and the characters that populate it seem as real as all of these people on the train.
My apocalyptic horror novel, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, begins on a train. Two of the main protagonists, sixteen year old dreamer, Caz Donaldson, and the boy of her dreams,Tim Adamson, clash eyes on the train, just as their fellow passengers, and everyone around them, fall dead. As the story progresses, Caz and Tim make their way towards the train station, where they meet surly tattoo artist, Star. Later, before the hit really hits the fan, our (anti)heroes wonder what it was that drew them to this place...
But it’s obvious, right?
Train stations, bus stations – these are places that attract the disenfranchised. Places where people wait and plan and anticipate, where people are en-route but not quite there yet, not quite where they want to be. It’s a place where it’s okay to feel displaced. And DROP DEAD GORGEOUS is very much a novel about feeling displaced...
So next time you see a guy with a notebook and pen on the bus or the train, maybe best to dip your head, busy yourself in that book or phone (or kindle?) of yours - lest you find yourself written into his story, perhaps one of the many, many victims of an apocalyptic horror novel...