Interview with novelist Patrick Lacey
Ever read anything by Patrick Lacey? No? Here’s a quick bio: Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He currently spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his Pomeranian, his cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him.
We’re thrilled that Patrick Lacey was able to take some time out from promoting his new book in order to answer a few of our questions.
THW: Let’s start with an easy one. Why do you choose to write horror? Why can’t you write something pleasant?
You know, I get asked that one a lot and I wish I had a better answer. It probably stems from the fact that one of my first movie experiences was A Nightmare on Elm Street. My parents didn’t put a whole lot of restrictions on what I watched and that damned film mesmerized me. As a kid, I was obsessed with monsters. Most of my friends liked sports but I was too busy brushing up on my slasher flicks and wishing Halloween would happen more often. Plus pleasant things are boring!
THW: Your new novel, A Debt to be Paid sounds scary as hell. Is it?
I’d like to think so. There were a few scenes that genuinely creeped me out during the writing process. I’ve been told by quite a few people they had to look over their shoulders, leave the lights on, and so forth while they read through the thing. In my humble opinion, those are some of the highest compliments a guy like me can get. Thus far, the reception’s been fantastic. I’m hoping it stays that way.
THW: You deal with mental illness in your writing. Do you have any expertise on the subject?
Another interviewer recently pointed this out to me as well. To be honest, I’d never noticed the pattern, but I’ve dealt with mental illness in a good portion of my work. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I’ve certainly been close to people with mental illness and as characters in fiction, I find them fascinating. You can’t help but route for them. They’re perfect for horror. Not only do they have to fight against the monster but they also have to deal with their own conditions. And who’s to stay what’s truly “crazy” versus “normal?” I just hope I’m sympathetic enough to those with mental illness. I think they’re far too often treated as rambling props instead of actual people.
THW: Do you think the possibility of mental illness evokes any sort of primal fear in readers?
Probably. Think about it. Our minds are fragile things. They can come undone at any moment. Face extreme stress or trauma and we can become disconnected from ourselves. We all worry about breaking with reality and losing our memories, so I think it’s a great tool to use in horror.
THW: You’ve had a lot of short stories published as well. What other themes does your horror work explore?
Aside from mental illness, I can pinpoint two: bullying and technology. With the former, I wish I could tell you I was bullied as child and overcame my enemy by studying karate and challenging him to a street brawl but the truth is, for the most part, I got along great with everyone. I just despise bullies. They’re not just found in school, either. They’re out there everyday, full grown adults who love intimidating those they find weaker than themselves. If that’s not fodder for a great villain, I don’t know what is. With the latter theme, I’ve written about haunted websites, arcade machines, and even internet memes. I think there’s just something creepy about technology, like no matter how proprietary a piece of machinery is, it always finds a way to crash or bug out that we never could’ve predicted.
THW: Your bio says you were born and raised in a haunted house. I imagine there’s a good story there. Let’s hear it!
That’s a long story and is probably causing half your readers to roll their eyes right now. I get it. Some people simply don’t believe in anything paranormal and that’s fine. With that said, the house I grew up in was filled to the brim with eerie things. I’ve seen shadows, heard grunting and growling, and even had the landline call my cell phone when no one was home. Want to know what I heard on the other end? Heavy breathing and muffled whispers. There’s a certain scene in Debt that’s ripped straight from this incident. I hope to write more on this in the future, whether it’s a novel or a non-fiction piece.
THW: What’s on your playlist when you’re writing new horror?
I actually don’t listen to music at all when I write. Once upon a time, I went to school for audio engineering, where I was taught how to listen to music critically. Since then, it’s hard for me to focus on anything if there’s music playing, except for driving (thankfully).
THW: Are you working on another novel? Do tell.
Yes, I’m nearly done with a novel called The Lynnwood Vampires, which is based off my short story of the same name. Believe it or not, it arguably does not contain any vampires. It’s the longest thing I’ve written yet and has been the most difficult as well. I hope people dig it when it finds a home and is released to the world.
THW: Do you have any advice for new horror writers you’d like to share?
I’m weary of giving any sort of writing advice because I’m still a rookie. I published my first short story in 2012 and have had about two dozen released since then, as well as A Debt to be Paid. I have one novel coming out in July of 2016 and another scheduled for January of 2017. The only tips that come to mind are to read like a maniac, both inside and outside of horror, and write obsessively. I wrote well over a hundred shorts and four novels before I ever sent anything out for serious publication. You’ve got to treat it like an addiction that can’t be overcome. Also, coffee. Lots of coffee.
THW: Where can fans reach out to you or see more of your work?
They can find me on Facebook or Twitter (@patlacey) or at my website. Thanks so much for the interview!
Thank YOU! Kids, you can find Patrick Lacey’s newest novel at Amazon.