Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Matt Hayward

Meghan: So, you’ve made it back for round three, Matt, where the questions get more and more difficult. [laughs manically]

What are your go-to horror films?

Matt Hayward: The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, Dog Soldiers, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Street Trash, Evil Dead 2. I go from classic to trashy in a heartbeat.

Meghan: What makes the horror genre so special?

Matt Hayward: Horror knows no limits. You can have a comedy, romance, thriller, or any other genre, all within a horror story. Horror has a way of tackling taboo subjects you might not find anywhere else. It’s unique in facing social / political situations head-on.

Meghan: Have any new authors grasped your interest recently?

Matt Hayward: Chad Lutzke is a new name on my radar, I’m embarrassed to admit. He’s a killer writer, and I’ve been floored by everything he’s put out. Jeremy Hepler, too.

Meghan: How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”? What do you listen to while writing?

Matt Hayward: I wish I could write to music, but, being a musician, it pulls my attention too much. That said, I listen to stuff before I write, soundtracks and bluesy stuff. Lately I’ve been on a Colter Wall, Blackwater Fever, True Detective soundtrack kinda kick.

Meghan: How active are you on social media? How do you think it affects the way you write?

Matt Hayward: It’s a necessary evil, unfortunately. If I could, I’d axe the internet and pull a ‘Bentley Little’.

Meghan: What is your writing Kryptonite?

Matt Hayward: If we’re talking what I hate when I read, I’d say stale prose. I don’t mind overused tropes – the haunted house, vampires, zombies – as long as I’m reading a fresh take and the writing remains captivating. On Writing books go a long way.

Meghan: If you were making a movie of your latest story/book, who would you cast?

Matt Hayward: The latest release was A Penny For Your Thoughts with Robert Ford, so… Aaron Paul as Joe, Dakota Fanning as Ava, and Danny McBride as Kenny.

Meghan: If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?

Matt Hayward: I’d leave ‘em be, warts ‘n’ all. They’re a nice snapshot of where I was skill-wise, and I like the progression. I just want to concentrate on making the next one better. If I fix one, I’d fix the current one ten years down the road and so on. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Meghan: What would the main character in your latest story/book have to say about you?

Matt Hayward: Probably call me a sadist. I messed up his life pretty good. He had to use dental floss to catch a fish. Did you know that’s a thing? YouTube’s full of guys going floss fishing.

Meghan: Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Matt Hayward: Absolutely. I’ve dotted characters in the backgrounds of books (Henry Stapleton from Practitioners makes a brief cameo in A Penny For Your Thoughts, for example), surnames crop up here and there, and I have one person, a single name, mentioned in every book I’ve ever written. That’ll make sense eventually.

Meghan: How much of yourself do you put in your books?

Matt Hayward: Quite a bit. Brian Keene said I ‘bleed on the page’ and I accept that as quite a high compliment. I try and keep my social/political beliefs private, I’ll never be ‘preachy’, but a lot of my own experiences and perspectives are there. If there’s not a grain of truth to the work, I’ll feel like I’ve cheated myself, and readers by proxy. I’ve shelved three novels for that very reason.

Meghan: Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Matt Hayward: Yup. As mentioned above, like a lot of writers, I mine past experiences. I won’t kiss and tell, though.

Meghan: Are your characters based off real people, or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Matt Hayward: A bit of A and a bit of B. Sometimes, when the story or situation is based on something real, then the characters are, too. Occasionally, though, they’re purely speculative. Kenny from A Penny For Your Thoughts, for example, he’s completely made-up. Just a fun guy the story called for. Peter from What Do Monsters Fear? or Tony, the kid from my upcoming book, are very much real.

Meghan: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Matt Hayward: I’ve learned to stop worrying and just write the next book. Now that I’ve taken a few punches and gone a few rounds, I know that some things I think are golden, people don’t like. And some things I’m unsure of, people really love. There’s no way to gauge it, so if you’re new to writing – don’t worry. Just keep putting your ass in the chair and pumping out the words. Have fun.

Meghan: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Matt Hayward: The most difficult thing about writing is having patience. A book I wrote two years ago is still doing the rounds, whereas I’m already three books ahead. When that sees the light of day, I’ll need a refresher when I speak about it – it’ll be entirely foreign to me. That, and back cover copy. Talking about my writing Kryptonite – back cover copy makes me need a drink.

Meghan: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Matt Hayward: Depends on the project. Some days it’s tiresome, I think any writer will admit that, but I always manage to plow through regardless. I’d feel much worse if I let the exhaustion overwhelm me and not work. Besides, no matter my mood, when I’m finished with a day’s writing, I always feel better.

Meghan: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones? Have you ever learned something from a negative review and incorporated it into your writing?

Matt Hayward: I try and leave reviews for the readers. That said, I was directed to a pretty funny review of The Faithful in which the reviewer was shocked to find so much blasphemy. It’s a novel about a religious cult written by an Irishman, I really don’t think they thought their purchase through. Even still, I’m grateful they read it.

Meghan: What are your ambitions for your writing career? What does “literary success” look like to you?

Matt Hayward: I’d like to have a core readership that gets what I write. I’ve had a couple of talks about movie adaptions in the past, but that side of the business is alien to me, and it’s a fickle beast. That said, I would like to see something transition to the big screen. I signed with an agent earlier this year, and we’re currently subbing to the traditional market, so I’m excited to see where that leads. All I can do is continue to sharpen my skills and try to surpass my last work. As long as people are reading them, I’ll keep writing them.

Matt Hayward is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated author and musician from Wicklow, Ireland. His books include Brain Dead Blues, What Do Monsters Fear?, Practitioners (with Patrick Lacey), The Faithful, and A Penny for Your Thoughts (with Robert Ford). He compiled the Splatterpunk Award-nominated anthology Welcome to the Show and wrote the comic book This Is How It Ends (now a music video) for the band Walking Papers. Matt received a nomination for Irish Short Story of the Year from Penguin Books in 2017. He is represented by Lane Heymont of the Tobias Literary Agency and can be found on Twitter or at his website.

A Penny for Your Thoughts (with Robert Ford)

Fresh from a stretch in prison, Joe Openshaw is living at home with his father and trying to get his life together again. He has let go of old habits, especially the ones that turned him into an addict and helped land him in prison.

On a hike along the Lowback Trail, Joe stumbles on one of the town’s oldest secrets–buried long ago, if not forgotten.

It’s an unusual but safe enough treasure–a jar of old pennies. What interests Joe isn’t the pennies themselves, but the pieces of paper taped to every coin–a child’s handwritten wish on each one.

When the first few wishes come true, they are simple things. Fun. Harmless.

Except as time goes on, Joe realizes they aren’t really wishes at all…they’re exchanges, and the bill was racking up.

Nothing is free in life. 

Sooner or later, you always pay.

Various States of Decay: A Collection

From the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of What Do Monsters Fear? and A Penny For Your Thoughts comes twenty new tales of terror!

Including the Irish Short Story of the Year-nominated Intercepting Aisle Nine

From a white doomsday crawling with abominable beasts to the bizarre case of a marketing company advertising within people’s dreams, these stories explore the extremes of Hayward’s prose–contrasting the heartfelt with the deeply disturbing.

These are… VARIOUS STATES OF DECAY

Halloween Extravaganza: Patrick Lacey: Halloween

Join Patrick Lacey as he discusses his love of Halloween…


If you’re anything like me, you know that Halloween is the greatest night of the year. Just imagine explaining it to someone new to the concept. Yeah, I get dressed up like a witch or a goblin and I hand out candy to children I’ve never met and they’re dressed up too and later on, when the big kids come out, my town looks like the scene of a crime. Toilet paper. Eggs. Shaving cream. It’s kinda like legal vandalism.

And that’s only the night. What about everything leading up to it? What about seeing plastic skulls and ceramic demons in your local department store while it’s still grilling weather? What about pumpkin beers and cereals that turn milk green and certainly what about candles that smell like candy corn and cost more than your car payment?

It’s most wonderful time of the year. That’s why on Halloween night, I do precisely one thing and one thing only.

Nothing.

The spooky season has become an assignment for me. With social media, everyone has a micro-blog of their own. My followers and the people I follow, they’re posting pictures of Halloween ephemera the moment it sneaks into stores. It becomes an adventure. It becomes my civic duty. I want to document all of the hub-bub because, in some corner of my delusional mind, people have actually come to expect and, dare I say, look forward to me posting pictures of pumpkin spice Cheerios.

And then there’s the movies. We live in a golden age of media if you’re a collector like me. Thousands of horror movies are available in special editions at the click of a button. And don’t even get me started on streaming services. You’ve got endless content on your hands. Your seasonal viewing is infinite but time is not. So you whittle it down. But do you only watch Halloween-related films or do you watch movies that remind you of Halloween? Something nostalgic or do you take a chance on a new release?

And in between mainlining slashers and inhaling Mellowcreme Pumpkins, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got to take in a haunt or seven. Everybody’s doing them these days, from local churches and farm stands to elaborate production companies who’ve paid a few big ones to rent out that abandoned hospital your city wants to convert into a mall. It’s hard to choose. The bigger guys have the budgets but those locals affairs are oozing with charm. So you do the logical thing. You attend them all.

I’m exhausted. Aren’t you? That’s why, come October 31st, the last thing I want to do is get dressed up and head to some party where there’s always that one guy, dressed as a gorilla, that no one seemed to invite. Instead, I get takeout. Something greasy and fried. Something I’ll have to pretend I didn’t eat the next time my doctor checks my cholesterol. I turn off the lights, leave a bowl of candy on the porch with a note that says Take One, like that’ll keep ’em in line. I light up the ol’ Jack O’ Lanterns and those pricey pumpkin candles. Then I throw on something spooky. Something I’ve seen a billion times so that it becomes background noise. I eat and watch, eat and watch, and outside the mayhem filters into the mix and it becomes a trance, one you only feel once each year, if you’re like me, and then all of the noise and visuals come to a boil and I’m—

And I’m sleeping on the couch and my wife is waking me up because it’s November 1st and while I’m more than a little bummed that the cycle has once again ended, I’m also relieved.

Besides, if you’re anything like me, you’ll just finish off the candy corn for breakfast and throw on some scary movies.

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 over-sized cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook, or visit his website.

Where Stars Won’t Shine

I’ll be seeing you.

That’s the note left behind for Ivy Longwood when infamous killer Tucker Ashton murders her boyfriend. Several years later, after Tucker vanishes from his jail cell, Ivy travels to Ashton’s hometown of Marlowe, Massachusetts. Not for closure or therapy. She’s being called there. Steered by forces beyond her control. What she’ll find is not the quiet suburban town Marlowe once was. It’s something new. Something dark. Something that answers the question: Where did Tucker Ashton go?

We Came Back

Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin’s death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School’s smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

Bone Saw

Liam Carpenter spends most of his time above his aunt’s garage, watching obscure horror movies and drinking cheap beer. But this week’s different. This week, things are getting weird. First, there’s his favorite director, Clive Sherman, showing up in town unannounced. Then there’s the string of murders that all seem like something out of Clive’s popular Pigfoot movie monster franchise. Throw in Liam’s mysterious new crush and the cough-syrup-addicted private investigator chasing her down and you might gain somewhat of a clue of what’s going on in Bass Falls lately.

And don’t even get him started on she-demons and blood sacrifices. Bone Saw studios is in town and they’re bringing you the bloodiest sequel featuring a pig-human hybrid killing machine you’ve ever seen.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Patrick Lacey

Meghan: Hi, Patrick. Welcome to Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Patrick Lacey: Hi, I’m Pat Lacey. I’ve been publishing horror fiction since 2012 and I have a six-foot tall Freddy Krueger cardboard cutout in my office.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Patrick Lacey: I absolutely love to cook. I drink around three cans of seltzer a day and can stop whenever I want to. Even though October if my favorite season, I do prefer warmer weather. I cry very easily during movies. I once got a mole removed.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Patrick Lacey: I want to say it was a Dr Seuss book involving the ABC’s but I might be confusing it with Crime and Punishment.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Patrick Lacey: I just finished up Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, who was new to me and will certainly be on my TBR for the rest of time. An actual perfect mix of horror and crime, a combination that can so easily go wrong if not done right. She does it right.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Patrick Lacey: American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson is one of my favorite memoirs of all time (I say this like I’ve read more than three) and one of the only books I actually devoured in one day.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Patrick Lacey: The first thing I wrote was The Curse of the Scorpion, a knock-off Goosebumps novel. I was in third grade. It never got published. I liked the process and toyed with writing off and on until college, when I gave it the old… college try. Sorry.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Patrick Lacey: I typically write in my office, which is a hoarder’s dream if you like horror memorabilia and action figures. But I can and do write anywhere. In my car, in coffee shops, on the back porch. I don’t like being tied to any one place. I think that creates this idea that if you’re not in your favorite writing spot, you can’t get anything done.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Patrick Lacey: Procrastination. I like to do literally anything to avoid writing before I actual sit down and work the magic.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Patrick Lacey: All of it. I’ve written something like fifteen novels now and they never get easier. To be honest, I don’t particularly love the process of writing. I find editing subsequent drafts much more enjoyable. On the flipside, if I go more than two days without writing, I get cranky. I just can’t quit you, written word.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Patrick Lacey: Trick question. It’s usually the thing I’m currently working on. So in this case, it’s the thing I’m currently working on.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Patrick Lacey: I started out with King, like the majority of the world, but when I gave writing a go, I identified with writers with more white space on the page. Off the top of my head: Jack Ketchum, Graham Joyce, Richard Laymon, John Skipp, Richard Matheson, Joe Lansdale.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Patrick Lacey: I think it’s totally subjective, all of it, except for this: if you want to keep turning the page, the story did something right—or write, if you will. Sorry again.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Patrick Lacey: I’m 95% pantser, meaning I don’t outline before I write. So sometimes, I don’t even know if I like a character until I’m well into the first draft. Usually, they’ve got to have a quirk. For example, though extreme, in Bone Saw, there’s a private detective who’s addicted to cough syrup. I wasn’t sure why when I first started writing, but as it went on, that addiction makes total sense.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Patrick Lacey: The main character in We Came Back is a dead ringer for me. We both lost our fathers in high school, and we both tried lifting weights with little to no results.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Patrick Lacey: Yes. Judge that cover all you want. I usually had a good amount of say in the covers of my books. I’ve learned over the years to speak up if something doesn’t gel with me and to give as much feedback as possible.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Patrick Lacey: Books are really hard to write.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Patrick Lacey: There’s a car crash scene in We Came Back where we learn about the death of major character and it wasn’t very enjoyable to write. Definitely one of those kill-your-darlings moments. Literally.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Patrick Lacey: Tough to answer this one without sending pretentious, but I guess I try take what might seem like a pulpy concept and treat it as serious as I can. That doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with it (see cough-syrup-addicted-private-detective for more information). It just means when I’m writing it, any general weirdness is (hopefully) serving the story instead of being there for the sake of it.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Patrick Lacey: I do think it’s important and for me, it’s never easy. I usually jot possibilities down as I’m working on the first draft but I rarely choose one until the book is done. Sometimes they’ll change once the publisher gets on board. I usually lift a line or concept from the book and take it from there.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Patrick Lacey: Both. With novels, I’m working on them for the better part of a year and like I said: it’s never easy. So when they’re done, it’s hard not to look back and nod in approval. But short stories? They’re like instant mac and cheese: quick and delicious and, oddly, sometimes orange. And since my writing style tends to be on the slim side, they just feel right.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Patrick Lacey: Someone once called my stuff “pulp with heart” and I can dig that description. As for my target audience, literally anyone who wants to read about haunted amusement parks, teenage cults, or god-like serial killers.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Patrick Lacey: Oh, there’s tons of stuff. I usually cut about 10,000 words from my novels. It gets cut for a reason (i.e., it’s boring), so there wouldn’t be much to tell.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Patrick Lacey: I do not have a trunk novel. I have six of them. When I first started writing, I wrote six books without even thinking of submitting them. I looked at them as practice. They’ll never see the light of day because a.) they’re mostly terrible and b.) I’ve since mined characters and plots to use in my published work.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Patrick Lacey: I’ve got a super-secret surprise coming in October, so if you’re reading this after it’s out, that’s what I was talking about and if not, I think I just vaguebooked. I also have a new novel coming out early next year through Grindhouse Press. It’s called A Voice so Soft and in a word(s), it’s what happens when Satan wins American Idol.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Patrick Lacey: There’s a bar down the street from my apartment that serves half-price apps on Wednesdays. Otherwise, I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Patrick Lacey: Thank you for having me! And thanks to everyone who’s read even a sentence of my work. Let’s all have the best Halloween ever!

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 over-sized cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook, or visit his website.

Where Stars Won’t Shine

I’ll be seeing you.

That’s the note left behind for Ivy Longwood when infamous killer Tucker Ashton murders her boyfriend. Several years later, after Tucker vanishes from his jail cell, Ivy travels to Ashton’s hometown of Marlowe, Massachusetts. Not for closure or therapy. She’s being called there. Steered by forces beyond her control. What she’ll find is not the quiet suburban town Marlowe once was. It’s something new. Something dark. Something that answers the question: Where did Tucker Ashton go?

We Came Back

Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin’s death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School’s smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

Bone Saw

Liam Carpenter spends most of his time above his aunt’s garage, watching obscure horror movies and drinking cheap beer. But this week’s different. This week, things are getting weird. First, there’s his favorite director, Clive Sherman, showing up in town unannounced. Then there’s the string of murders that all seem like something out of Clive’s popular Pigfoot movie monster franchise. Throw in Liam’s mysterious new crush and the cough-syrup-addicted private investigator chasing her down and you might gain somewhat of a clue of what’s going on in Bass Falls lately.

And don’t even get him started on she-demons and blood sacrifices. Bone Saw studios is in town and they’re bringing you the bloodiest sequel featuring a pig-human hybrid killing machine you’ve ever seen.