Red Adept Publishing’s Michelle Rever interviews Edward Lorn, author of Bay’s End, Three After, and the soon-to-be-released Dastardly Bastard.
Michelle: Tell us about the inspiration or inspirations for Dastardly Bastard.
Edward Lorn: Dastardly Bastard came from a question a friend of mine once asked me.
“What would we be without our memories?”
I answered without thought, “Nothing.”
I’m a firm believer that we are nothing more than what we have learned, what we have been through, and the choices we’ve made throughout our lives. We are defined by our memories. Good or bad.
Michelle: Without spoiling, who is your favorite character, and why?
Edward: By leaps and bounds, Donald. I just have a blast writing smart-mouthed sorts.
Michelle: There is one female character in Dastardly Bastard who gets a lot of page time. Are there any special challenges for you in writing a female character?
Edward: I have a beautiful, intelligent wife to fall back on for these things. If I write a woman’s reaction that doesn’t sit well with me, I read it to her. She has the final say so on such matters.
Michelle: How much of you is in your characters?
Edward: Depends on which character…
For one character, there is almost none of me present. For another, he/she is just an avatar with my personality applied to him or her.
I would like to think my characters have a will of their own, but I do find bits and pieces of me leaking into their personalities.
Michelle: Is there anything so dark that you won’t write about it?
Edward: This question actually made me laugh out loud. Definitely not. It’s almost like asking a comedy writer if there’s anything funny he wouldn’t write about. It’s kinda what we do. If you’re asking whether or not my personal beliefs ever get in the way when writing about darker subjects, I would also say no. It’s not about me. It’s about where the story takes me.
Michelle: Is there any other genre you’d like to try?
Edward: I think I already try them all. That’s what I love about horror. You can delve into any genre you want, just as long as you come back to the scary stuff.
Horror is a literary chameleon.
Michelle: Have you ever had anything supernatural happen to you?
Edward: Weird stuff happens to me all the time, but I try not to lend it any credibility. If there are such things as ghosts and goblins, let them exist without me knowing about them. I suppose I just don’t want to think about it. Just one more thing to be afraid of, right? Human beings are scary enough by themselves. And I know they’re real.
Michelle: What’s your favorite horror movie?
Edward: The Passion of the Christ. I didn’t watch that movie because it was a fact based reenactment of Christ’s last days. I watched it because people told me how utterly horrifying it was to behold. If that’s not a horror movie, than what is?
Michelle: Favorite horror novel?
Edward: Delores Claiborne by Stephen King. Until I read that book, I thought horror was all about creatures and supernatural happenings. I never knew you could write horror and make it about stuff that can actually happen! The part where she pushes her husband down the well, and he doesn’t die right away, scared the crap out of me.
King goes into glorious detail about the sounds of her husband’s scratching at the walls of the well. I could hear those same scratching sounds when I tried to sleep. I was nine when I read that book. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over it.
Michelle: Do you have any special writing rituals or superstitions?
Edward: Music. When I wrote Bay’s End, I had my Tom Waits collection – I own everything the man has ever done – on repeat. For Dastardly Bastard, I kept Adele’s albums, 19 and 21, going the entire time. I just can’t seem to write without a soundtrack. When I try, I end up with dispassionate drivel. Nobody needs to be reading that.
Michelle: When you play hookey from writing, where are we most likely to find you?
Edward: With my family. They suffer my writing as a needed chore. So, when I’m not pounding the keys, I’m doing what they want to do. I prefer my family over my writing any day of the week, but I seem to appreciate them all the more after coming out of the dark.
Michelle: You’re all alone, and it’s storming outside. The power goes out. The fuse box is in the basement. You hear a strange noise, which may or may not be the house settling, but it could also have something to do with the escaped crazed cannibalistic mental patient that the talking head on TV was talking about right before the lights went out. Speaking of strange sounds, the scratching at the window is probably just a tree branch. What is your next move?
Edward: Cut down the tree branch. Chainsaws work in the rain, right?
Michelle: Moving away from “D.B.” for the moment, you wrote a story in a recently published mini-anthology (Three After) about the loss of a child. As a father, how difficult was it to explore that topic?
Edward: The hardest. I can’t imagine life without my daughter, but I had to, if only for the life of that story. The concept was devastating. When you wake up everyday and that little girl is just… there, she becomes a part of your existence. Sure, she’s my daughter, and I’m suppose to love and care for her, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s not the responsibility to protect and provide that makes me do those things, it’s that I just cannot see myself existing without her there to share every waking moment with. She is a part of me. If she were gone, there would be an emptiness.
That is what I latched onto when I wrote, World’s Greatest Dad, that feeling of trying to fill an ever expanding hole, but nothing being big enough. Where do you go from there? I don’t think I know the answer to that question.
Michelle: At the beginning of Bay’s End, you quote Stephen King. (“Monsters are real, ghosts are real, too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”) This reminded me of something John Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden. A paraphrase of it is that monsters are sometimes born to human parents, and that if someone could be born with a malformed limb, why not a malformed soul? Do you believe that some people are born evil? Why or why not?
Edward: Oh, God yes. Some people are just broken from the start. Sexual abuse does not always create a future pedophile and a perfect childhood does not guarantee an outstanding, law abiding citizen. Evil can be taught, sure, but it can also be hardwired from birth. I’ve heard it said, over and over again, that in our hearts, we’re all good people. I would argue just the opposite. I think we’re all pretty screwed up inside from the get-go. It’s what we chose to do with that information that makes us “good” or “bad” throughout our lives.