And we’re back – to the jacking that is. This time around, I have, for your reading pleasure, fellow fear-monger, the great and powerful Edward Lorn. Ed is about to release upon the world one Hell of a twisted ride, Hope for the Wicked. Let’s crack open Ed’s skull and see just how his flavor of brain tastes.
JW: You are a purveyor of the wicked and unseemly, like myself. You seem to not be afraid to tackle subjects that others wouldn’t dare. I am thinking of one particular scene in Hope for the Wicked where you go down paths many writers choose not to take. You pull this off with not just an adept pen, but a graceful tact. Although I knew about the scene, I was still surprised at how well it was handled. As a fellow traveler on the dark hayride, I would imagine you love stepping up to such challenges.
Horror, and dark thrillers, for both the writer and reader, are all about challenge. They challenge our ability to tackle topics others might not want, they challenge our skills to gracefully pen the horrific, and they challenge the reader’s ability to swallow that which should make their skin crawl off the meat on their bones. To me, that is what being an author of the dark fantastique is about.
EL: In Hope for the Wicked, the scene your speaking of came about for two reasons. First, I needed a tipping point for my main character, something that would make him change his life for good. Larry Laughlin, my protagonist, is a trained killer. His wife, Mo (Maureen), and he used to dispose of pedophiles for money until a job went south and Larry finally convinced Mo to retire. They’d seen just about every atrocity known to man, so not much was going to faze them. What was I, the author, going to do to break this guy? How could I push Larry over the edge when it seemed he’d fallen off said cliff years ago? Insert the scene you mentioned, and I had the catalyst of change I was looking for. The other reason? The scene was a challenge to write, and I do like a challenge. What would be too much? What wouldn’t be enough? I certainly didn’t want people to think I was enjoying myself. The scene is meant to be repulsive, not pleasurable. I walked that tightrope until I was mentally and physically wasted. By the time I finished, I felt like I’d just spent twelve hours slinging cinderblocks into the back of a truck while translating Aramaic to a group of puppy dogs.
As an author, stories take you places. Most of the time, you haven’t a clue where you’re going to end up. I started Hope for the Wicked with the intention of writing about human trafficking in Mexico via drug cartels. You’ve read the book, Jack, so you can see how far off track the story took me. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? Flying by the seat of your pants, throwing your hands in the air and screaming, enjoying the ride but being scared shitless as well. There are not many other feelings like when a story comes together, especially not when a book has as many twists and turns as Hope for the Wicked. For anyone who picks up the book, let me tell you, I was just as shocked by how it ends as, hopefully, you will be.
As far as playing in the dark is concerned, my light switch has been in the off position since I was a kid. I’m not broken or damaged goods. I’ve just always appreciated the shadows more than the sun. All my imaginary friends were slack-faced, dull-eyed apparitions or fiendish, horned imps hell-bent on making me light my mattress aflame. Luckily, all my bedding was flame retardant.
JW: Exactly! That’s one of the reasons I write the way I do – without a net. Not only does it give me those moments of “Oh shit, that’s where this is going!”, it gives me the thrill of reading and writing at the same time. I get to experience the ride for the first time, just like readers do. And that joy of thinking a story is going in one direction, only to have it jump track and take you down a much darker, twistier path, is a pleasure writers can’t find elsewhere. In the end, you get the pride, joy, and fascination of saying “I created that and that created me,” at the same damn time. It’s poetry, it’s beauty, and it’s art in its truest sense of the word.
As for imaginary friends? Mine were in the form of guardian angels – one of which wore a stop-pipe hat. I guess, by nature, writers are all bent and twisted by their imaginations from early on. Thankfully there wasn’t someone in the background saying “You shouldn’t think like that!” Instead, my parents pretty much just left me to my own devices – or rather to the devices of my imagination. In all honesty, they couldn’t have chosen a better parenting method for me. All that precious time alone… bwahaha!
EL: I think the freedoms I had at an early age helped a great deal. I was never told what I could and couldn’t read or write. Sure, Mom usually cringed at my content, but I got the pat on the head all the same. Maybe that’s why I choose the more taboo subjects. Without having that censorship at an early age, I grew up believing nothing was off limits. I’m going to have to thank my mother for that, as I don’t believe I ever have.
I had plenty of time alone growing up as well, Jack. I have two older sisters—one’s fourteen years older and the other one is twelve years older—so by the time I was old enough to take in the world around me, they’d already moved out and started their adult lives, leaving me to be an only child of sorts. Because of that, I spent a great deal of time inside my own head. I was my greatest audience. I think that’s helped me significantly with my books. I know what bores me, so I try not to add any of that nonsense to my stories. I’ve had people tell me they’re waiting on the first real Edward Lorn novel because my stuff to date has been so short—none of my books are over 70,000 words—but I always respond the same way. “I can only give you what interests me. If I pack my stories full of filler, you’re going to know, and you’re going to call me on it.”
JW: I’m with you. As a writer, I picture everything as a film in my head as I write. This means it’s all about moving forward the story and the characters. I could take the time to fluff up the details, but that’s not me. I like to allow the readers to fill some of those details in with their imagination. That is, after all, one of the beauties of reading – getting to paint you own specific picture to go with the words.
I want to end this by asking you a question (something I don’t usually do when ‘Jacking’ fellow authors). Hope for the Wicked is a powerful story with serious potential. Can you give us an idea where the series is heading?
EL: Larry Laughlin’s story is far from over. The next book in the series, Pennies for the Damned, will pick up the day after Hope for the Wicked ends. Larry’s getting thrown into a dark underworld that will test his limits and push him even further than the events of Hope for the Wicked. The body count will rise, new friends and enemies will be made, and by the time it’s all over, Larry might not make it out alive.
Thanks for having me, Jack. See you later!