One of the best things about the horror genre is that it is like a little club. We all live on the periphery on what most people would call *the norm* and that is how we love it. But also there is a great feeling of community whether it be online or at conventions and festivals. It allows horror fans like myself the opportunity to meet and become friends with all types of people. Now a couple of years ago I met a chap named Wayne Simmons through (I believe) our love of the Dread Media podcast, I then learned that it was indeed the same Wayne Simmons that had written Flu – a book that sat proudly on my bookshelf and that I had devoured in a couple of days. Since then myself and Wayne have discussed our love of horror, extreme music, podcasts and we have very similar tastes.
Wayne was a great help when I was setting up UK Horror Scene (and my previous blog The Corpsegrinder), sometimes all you need is someone to say ” I really liked that review” or “Loving the look of the new site”. I now class Wayne as a friend and with him releasing his latest book Plastic Jesus (through Salt Publishing) on December 1st , I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce the UK Horror Scene readers (many of whom I am sure are aware of Wayne’s work) to a hugely talented writer and an all round good guy.
So without further ado – ladies and mentalmen may I introduce Mr Wayne Simmons!!
1) Hi Wayne please could you tell UKHS a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
Yep, I’m a lifelong horror and genre fan from Northern Ireland, now living in Cardiff, Wales. I like everything horror: films, books, comicbooks, music, tattoos, the lot. As a fan, I started out writing for online blogs and zines, reviewing the books and movies I was enjoying, interviewing the folks behind them.
One thing lead to another and before long I had written a novel myself; Drop Dead Gorgeous, released in 2008 through Permuted Press (re-released in 2011 by Snowbooks).
I now have four horror titles on the shelves with a sci-fi hitting stores come December.
Simply because I’m a fan of zombie books and movies: for a long time, that was the most of what I was reading or watching myself. These days, I’m kinda a bit like everyone else: a little saturated by the undead. But there are still some great z-books and films being released: I’ve one more zombie book in me, the finale to my FLU series, which I hope to see released 2014 some time.
3) Your novels have been set in Northern Ireland, why do you think Belfast in particular lends itself to the undead rising?
All of my novels have thus far been set within Northern Ireland, yes. That will change with the new one, Plastic Jesus, which is a sci-fi thriller set within a fictional island off the coast of America. But even then, there are some landmarks mentioned in the book which Belfastians will find familiar. You can take the boy out of Belfast, and all that…
4) You have a new novel coming out in November called Plastic Jesus, please can you tell us a bit about it?
Plastic Jesus is my first outright sci-fi, set
in the near future. It’s my love letter to William Gibson (for Neuromancer), Ridley Scott (for Blade
Runner) as well as a host of noir and neo-noir writers through the ages (Lawrence Block, Day Keene, Donald E. Westlake, Christa Faust etc.) The story takes place in Lark City on the fictional island of Maalside, a hedonistic haven just off the coast of America. The former US of A is struggling to recover after a mass holy war causes the Middle East to implode. The central story arc revolves around Johnny Lyon, a recently bereaved code guy who is tasked to write a Jesus programme for release via Virtual Reality, hoping to reinvent and rebrand religion. Of course, things don’t go according to plan…
In some ways, yes. It’s a not an apocalyptic horror book, for a start, although there are some horror, dystopian and apocalyptic themes in there. But like my other books, Plastic Jesus is primarily concerned with the characters; a varied bunch of disconnected and disenfranchised people, brought together through the repercussions of the Jesus programme’s launch, and their reaction to such.
In general, I’m always seeking to develop and improve as a writer with every book I put out: to make my writing more concise, more accessible and engaging and exciting as I possibly can. Generally speaking, I strive to make each book I release better than the one before it. Taste is subjective, of course: my biggest seller is still FLU, a book that was written in 2009, even though I personally feel my writing has vastly evolved since then.
6) Do you have any other writing projects lined up after Plastic Jesus?
Hell yeah! I’ve a crime book parked at first draft, a vampire book parked at 3rd draft and a slasher horror being co-written with fellow genre hack and good friend, Andre Duza. And then there’s the final FLU book, a fantasy book I’ve made a start on and an idea for a revenge thriller I’ve been kicking around my head for a long while, now. I’m always writing, always coming up with new ideas, so plenty more on the boiler, if people still want to read me.
7) Now on to Wayne Simmons the man! You are prolific in the horror genre, not just do you write books but you have podcasts , write for websites , review films and music and have organised Scardiff 2013 (the first horror con in Cardiff) amongst other things. Where do you get the energy and time ?
Ha! I think it goes back to being a fan, first and foremost: I didn’t set out to do any of these things; they all just evolved organically, sometimes one from the other in a kind of chain effect. But I wouldn’t do any of it if I didn’t enjoy it. There have been things I have been involved with in the past, such as editing work or working with a particular site or person or whatever, which I’ve stepped away from because they’ve become things that I no longer enjoy. Life’s too short to do otherwise.
In terms of workload, I try to compartmentalise each day as much as possible in order to allocate time most efficiently: a time for this, a time for that and so on. Plus, I have great support from my partner (and beta-reader and new co-producer of SCARdiff) Rebecca.
I think it came from watching Hammer House of Horror as a child. There was something taboo and dangerous and attractive about that series that appealed. It created an insatiable appetite within me and I wanted more.
But horror wasn’t as accessible back then as it is now: in teenage years, a friend and I used to rent a load of videos every weekend and chain-watch them; always horrors. But you were limited to what the store would stock and soon we’d seen just about everything they had.
That’s when I looked to books. Stephen King was an obvious choice and after I read Carrie, I was totally hooked on him, reading every title I could get my hands on. One author led to another and in 2005, I downloaded my first e-book, a book called Autumn by new writer, David Moody. It turned me onto apoc-horror fiction in a big way. The rest, as they say, is history!
9) Right time for a big one – name your 3 favourite films , books and albums ?
Right now, it would look something like this…
1. Blade Runner
2. A Tale of Two Sisters
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
1. Carrie by Stephen King
2. The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block
3. Autumn by David Moody
1. Gretchen Goes to Nebraska by King’s X
2. Out of the Silent Planet by King’s X
3. Galactic Cowboys by Galactic Cowboys
Definitely. It’s made networking so much easier. Horror and genre fans now have places to hang, forums to talk about their nerdy pursuits and, as a fan, I get involved in a lot of that. As a writer/ podcaster/ convention organiser/ whatever, promoting my wares has come quite naturally: I just do what I’ve always done; talk about horror and genre stuff.
11) What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there?
Write what you enjoy to read. Work hard and be open to criticism. Most of all, keep your head as far away from your arse as possible.
12) Thank you for your time Wayne , it is always a pleasure . Do you have final words for the UKHS readers and anything you would like to point in our direction ?
Just that it’s been a pleasure talking with you, Andy! Looking forward to catching up with you in person, again. Til then, folks can find me at www.waynesimmons.org and all things SCARdiff at www.scardiff.co.uk
Plastic Jesus is released through Salt Publishing and available here – http://www.saltpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=9781907773631