Marcus Leighton is a writer and lover of both horror books and films. He has two forthcoming publications with Permuted Press, the Between Place (March 2015) and Hag (December 2015).
What first attracted you to horror writing?
I would say my love for the genre attracted me to horror writing. I have always been a big reader, starting with John Bellairs and moving on to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. For me it’s the hair raising feeling you get when your laying down (or sitting) and the house is empty and silent and you’re reading something that makes you nervous about what might be lurking in that house of yours. It’s one thing to watch a film and jump when something explodes from the darkness, but when someone can make that same fearful impact with words on paper, it’s very impressive – which is my goal. The first book I recall scaring me was Pet Sematary. I remember sitting in my dad’s living room reading the part with Gage coming back and being terrified. He had a large home with lots of hardwood, and every creak and groan of his old house made me sit up and check. It’s something I would love to bring to readers myself.
What is your most notable work?
Well, that would be my debut novel, due out through Permuted Press in March of 2015, the Between Place. Not only because it’s my first piece of work to be published, but because to me it became such a big part of my life. I also believe it’s a great story which not only deals with horror, but really hits home with the characters. For me, and for most people I believe, it’s not so much the story, but the characters who live in that story that makes it rewarding. With the Between Place, I really think the readers will feel like they are a part of my characters and form a bond with them. I know that sounds very trite, but here I think I achieved that.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on two stories, one is a supernatural thriller and the other is a straight up thriller, no ghosts, no goblins.
How much planning and research do you undertake before writing?
As little as possible. I will usually jot down the hot points for my story. A very basic what happens when. I find the most helpful thing for me is to know my characters. If you write down your character bio and say that your protagonist loves pizza, then you find yourself putting him in a pizza place, well then let’s say in this pizza place he meets so and so, and the story really develops from there. For my first two manuscripts I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research. But, for the projects I am working on now I find myself researching police procedural stuff. But even research helps with story development.
Describe your writing routine.
Well, I suppose there is a little bit more than that. I sit down and go over what I wrote the previous day. I don’t make any changes to the story (but I’ll write down a note if something needs changing) but I will make some minor corrections, spelling and grammar. This just kind of gets me back in the story. Now of course, this often follows getting trapped on the old world wide web watching puppies play or the trailer for an upcoming film. My goal for the day is around a thousand words. Once I hit that, I am free to stop. Sometimes I do, sometimes I keep going. But, it’s a great feeling to hit that mark.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Of course, Stephen King. Everyone says that I know, but to be honest it’s something he’s earned. He has that knack of writing in a way that completely draws you into the world he’s created. You become so immersed in his characters that the rest of the world just falls away.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I would have to vote for psychological chills over gore. I love reading a story (or watching a film) where someone comes home and you know something is lurking in the house stalking them. It’s great to read them go about their business while you’re just waiting for the monster or killer to come out and tear them up. Of course, I do enjoy the gory chapters when they come.
Why should people read your work?
Read my work because it takes you away from the daily routine. It allows you to escape and just chill out. It’s fast-paced (a big plus for me when I read a story) and cuts to the heart of the story and the characters. Also, it’s fun to be scared.
Recommend a book.
Well, I won’t mention a Stephen King book, how’s that? Swan Song my Robert McCammon. Great apocalyptic story taking place after nuclear war.