A horror and YA paranormal thriller writer. In September, Griffin Hayes published his first novel, MALICE. Two short stories, THE GRIP and THE SECOND COMING, as well as my novella, BIRD OF PREY, are now also online. And don’t worry, there’s plenty more in the pipeline, including a zombie novella that’s currently in the works. Griffin Hayes – related links: Blog: griffin-hayes.blogspot.com Twitter: @griffin_hayes Griffin’s spooky mailing list (excellent image on the site)! Facebook Goodreads Find Dark Passage on Amazon.com Amazon author page
HE: Which authors did you enjoy while you were growing up?
I don’t know of many horror writers today who didn’t grow up reading Stephen King, but I’ll risk sounding unoriginal by adding him here since his work had such a profound impact on so many writers of my generation. Arthur C. Clark was another big influence. I loved everything he wrote until Gentry Lee took over (sorry Gentry, no hard feelings I hope). A major influence on my style was Adam Hall who wrote the Quiller books back in the 60s. He was a British spy writer and very few people know his work, but his books were like poetry to me. I’ve also read nearly every novel Ken Follett’s ever written. Any new author who wants to understand how to write conflict would do well to study Follett.
HE: Who are your favourite authors now?
GH: Too many to name. My tastes nowadays are wildly eclectic. I read everything from historical non-fiction to techno thrillers to horror (of course!)
HE: Which films, TV and music influenced you in your writing, and daily life?
GH: I’m a big film buff. The stark reality of the Italian Neo-Realist movement in the 1950’s had a big impact on me. Back then the idea of picking up a camera and filming outside was almost unheard of. Of course, today it’s the norm and with the advent of reality television, has almost become a cliché.
HE: What scares you the most?
GH: Everything! The myth about horror writers is that they’re a bunch of sick, devil worshiping S.O.B.s I remember growing up, a buddy on my school bus asked, “So’d ya hear? Stephen King killed a guy!” I believed it, and why shouldn’t I since I was young and SK was clearly demented. It wasn’t until I started writing in the genre myself that I realized how wrong I was.
Specific things that frighten me: Huge insects, ghosts, insanity and hospitals scare the crap out of me.
HE: Is an audience or genre a starting point for your writing?
Hmm, sometimes. If I want a book to be successful, aiming for a particular audience the way one might aim a dart at a bullseye can help. I try and do that more and more nowadays, but most of my earlier work, Dark Passage included, was simply me starting out from a single, spooky question. What if a drug designed to stop nightmares brought them into the world instead?
HE: Do you spend long on research, or is research overrated?
GH: For some books I spend a lot of time reading articles and watching every documentary I can find on the subject. Past life regression for Malice is one example. I wanted the hypnotic regressions to seem authentic and so I loosely based the main character’s sessions on transcripts from dozens of cases I read. Another area I studied before writing Dark Passage was how the pharmaceutical industry works. But more often than not, research is visiting Google earth if I can’t quite remember where The Three Dancing Maidens statue is in Central Park.
HE: How do you start a novel?
GH: I only start once I can see where the first 5 chapters will bring me. I don’t tend to map out every single chapter the way Follett does. I want to know where I’m heading, but I like to keep the door open for the unexpected. I figure if a turn of events surprises me (and they often do), then the reader won’t see it coming either.
HE: Does writer’s block ever hit? How do you deal with it?
It does. If a scene isn’t working. Occasionally, if a book isn’t working. Either I muscle through the pain, or put it aside for a day or two until a solution occurs to me. Most of the time issues like that are about plotting. You’ve tied yourself into a knot and haven’t a clue how to get free. There have been times when I’ve set off on a story without a clear idea where I was headed and got so tangled up I’ve had to drop the book completely. One of those in particular I may take another crack at once I’m finished with Primal Shift Season 2.
HE: Whose writing advice do you really listen to (if any)!
GH: I have a few author friends I ask question to when I’m really stuck. I used to ask my girlfriend and various family members, but I stopped when I could see my questions were boring them to tears. Haha!
HE: Is there anything you wouldn’t consider writing about, e.g. genre, political issues, sexuality?
GH: If you mean a subject I find too taboo, I don’t think so. There are subjects I’m less interested in. For instance, fairies and angels. I couldn’t write a book about either one and possibly hope to do it justice. I’d rather carve my eyes out with a shoe horn (oh, I just had an idea for my next book, thank you!)
On ‘Dark Passage’
HE: What attracted you to writing a paranormal thriller?
I’ve been obsessed with the paranormal all my life. Part of me wonders if I wasn’t making my living putting words on a page, whether I’d be investigating haunted houses or investigating crop circles. Most of my ideas come from dreams and from asking a million what if questions. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked a friend: “What would you do if…” It’s led to some great laughs and some pretty freaky books.
HE: Have you experienced insomnia or medical trials yourself?
No, although I have a friend who was hard up for cash right after university and would often disappear on the weekends. My first thought was male prostitution, but it turns out he was gimping his body out for drug trials instead. The money was actually pretty good. I suppose that stayed with me for a while and gradually grew into one half of the Dark Passage story.
HE: How do you balance horror and fantastic events with believability?
GH: I think most of that has to do with building believable characters the reader can trust. Don’t get me wrong, you may trust a character, but you’ll never buy a scene where she jumps off a twenty story building, hits the pavement and lives. So yes, that balance is a tricky one.
The other part of believability is doing what commercials have become famous for. Tying together a proposition which is true (“don’t we all deserve luxury and pampering?”) to something which may not be true (“then buy a Honda”). If you add enough real life grounding, then you can make almost anything seem real.
HE: Do you feel your characters are likable, or should it even matter?
GH: I don’t think it should matter, although it probably does. I don’t tend to write about likeable people. In my mind, squeaky clean good guys need to be rounded up and shot. I can’t think of many characters I’ve created who aren’t flawed in some serious ways. In real life, we’re all messed up, let’s face it. Perhaps that’s why some readers prefer the ‘perfect’ hero. Some guy who starts the story fully equipped to battle the forces of evil. But to me those guys are Wonderbread. I’ll take an insecure, slightly neurotic underachiever to rises to the challenge any day.
HE: Who’s your favourite character in the book?
Hard to say. I really felt for Tyson and the desperation of what he was going through. I also felt bad that his ex-wife Ruma who wanted to support her husband, but just couldn’t handle the way he was acting. (spoiler ahead!) Of course, it should go without saying that Dr. Hunter’s spiraling descent into madness was a lot of fun.
HE: What are you working on now?
GH: Right now I’m finishing up the final installment of my Hive series. It’s a zombie story set 200 years after the human race was nearly wiped out. A group of mercs on a rescue mission discovers a pocket of zombies living underground who possess a frightening hive mind. It’s steam punk meets action & adventure.
After that I’ll be starting season 2 of my post-apocalyptic serial Primal Shift. This one’s set a couple years from now where a worldwide amnesia destroys civilization and plunges the world into barbarism.
In other words, I’ve been busy destroying the world.
HE: Any tips for new writers?
If you’re an indie writer, start a mailing list right away and add a link to the front and back of your books.
If you’re aiming for a mainstream deal, don’t stop writing new books while you’re waiting to hear back from agents.
HE: And finally, do you have a message or thoughts for the lovely readers of the Haunted Eyeball?
GH: I thought I was the only one with haunted eyeballs. Maybe that explains all the horrible things I see.
Seriously though, thank you for having me. Was a lot of fun!
Also check out:
- Review of Dark Passage here on the Eyeball
- Interview with Horror and YA author Brian Rowe
- Review of Townhouse by Brian Rowe
- Stephen King: A Rare Interview With The Master Storyteller (firewireblog.com)