Ginger Nuts of Horror
Whenever I discuss my influence in the horror genre only three names spring to mind. Laymon, King and Herbert. All three authors had a pivotal role in shaping my literary horror taste as a youngster. True, there are other names that would join this list over the years (Hutson, Hitchcock and Clive Barker to name three). However, when you strip it down to the bare bones and I want to select one book, it has to be Flesh by Richard Laymon.
There are three reasons for this. First and foremost, this is the first adult horror book I ever laid eyes on. I was seven at the time. Having sharpened and honed my tastes on younger fare such as Goosebumps and Fighting Fantasy books, I was ready for something a little more...mature. Luckily my parents had a few Laymon classics lying around so I pilfered them and hid them under my pillow. Within a few weeks I was hooked. The language was perverse, the violence thrilling, the antics of the characters very non-Secret Seven. My horror education had begun. The second reason? Being seven, the book scared the hell out of me. I never felt like this whilst reading anything before and the thrill of feeling that way resonated strongly with me. The final reason? From that day forward, I wanted to write novels. It took me a while to actually pursue that dream but I have now become published and I attribute this to Richard Laymon and his graphic, petrifying genius.
Flesh was a visceral experience for me. The book itself is a tale about the unknown. In short, a parasite appears in a small town and starts inhabiting the occupants. The parasite wants its jollies and that requires, in true Laymon form, raping, murdering and generally nasty things happening to innocent people. As it forces its host to perform these criminal acts, you wonder just how bad things will get. However, despite all of this, it takes a while for the book to get going and until you reach the end of the novel, you don't actually know what's making these people do bad things...which I think is the scariest thing of all. An unknown terror is always the biggest fear and in Flesh, Laymon delivers this with a huge, bloody slap to the face.
Now, in hindsight, there are themes of body snatching, possession and psychotic tendencies being brought to the surface. To analyse is to ruin the experience really. I think Laymon just wanted to write a bloody good horror story and has done so with gusto.
The reason this book stuck with me though is this: There's a scene in the book where the hero of the piece is contemplating entering a restaurant. Now, at this point, the reader knows that some bad shit has happened in this restaurant (courtesy of our unseen parasite) and nothing good can come from our hero completing his mission. Remember, this was my first horror book, I had no idea what could've happened. I was a noob, an amateur. Everything was new to me. All of these unfamiliar feelings were rolling around in my young mind. It was an experience to say the least.
For me, this sold me on books. For written words on a page, black text on white paper, to do this to me and stop me dead, paralyse me in fear and make me think like this? Amazing. No film, book or music since has replicated this feeling. That's when I realised that if I could hone my craft and start writing, I could make some readers very happy. I've wanted to do this ever since. In April 2014, some years later, I finally realised my dream and became published. Now, the opportunity to follow my dream is in my hands and I have a chance to pay homage to Richard Laymon, the man responsible for putting me on the path to becoming a horror author. My first full length novel All or Nothing is due in May so here's hoping this will be the start of something great.
No one in town has ever seen anything like it; a slimy, mobile tube of glistening yellow flesh with dull, staring eyes and an obscene, probing mouth. But the real horror is not what it looks like, or what it does when it invades your flesh - but what it makes you do to others.
Stuart Keane is a debut author who recently self published his first novella, The Customer Is Always... on Amazon Kindle. His first feature length horror/thriller, All or Nothing, is due in late May 2014. He was born in Greenwich, England in 1981 and was raised in Kent until he moved to Ipswich in 2011. He started writing two years later. Honing his craft via online articles, reviews and blogs, he took the step into self publishing this year. An avid horror fan, he reads three to six books a month and tries to write 2000 words a day. He is currently happily engaged and sleep deprived.
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THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Everyone hates Monday.
Including Vincent who, at 9AM, already wants his shift to be over. Ten long hours sit before him, tedious, boring, repetitive.
Then he receives a phone call from Mr Pierce. A routine call at first, Mr Pierce becomes more aggressive and, eventually, violent and demanding. What started as a standard call has now turned into a deadly game of cat and mouse. As the call develops, it’s clear that Mr Pierce is psychotic and that anything could push him over the edge.
You see, Mr Pierce has a secret to share with Vincent. A deadly, personal secret which shatters Vincent’s 9-5 world and could change his life forever.
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