Friday, May 31, 2013

Clayton Bye: The Speed of Dark


Attention, Horror fans! Here’s a deliciously creepy anthology for you. Author and publisher Clayton Bye visits today to talk about his ideas on the writing process and tell us about The Speed of Dark, a collection of twenty-seven spine-tingling short stories written by several talented authors.

Welcome, Clayton. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I live in Kenora, Ontario, Canada.
What sparked your interest in writing?
It has been there for as long as I can remember. But if it comes from anywhere in this world, I would bet my interest in writing came from my grandfather's storytelling. When he spoke, entire rooms of people just stopped so as not to miss a word of the current story or poem (of which he had many memorized). I wanted to be able to tell (or write) stories like that.
What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
I think a great story depends on a wicked Hook, something that settles the reader into the book almost immediately. The hook need not be recognizable as such, but it must be there. Following the hook comes the Problem: every story has some problem that must be solved by the main character or characters. If there's no problem, there's nothing to hold the reader in a state of suspended disbelief (the goal of all good fiction). The middle of the story or the Development is when the character and whatever challenges him do battle—sometimes to the point of what seems like a hopeless situation. Following Development comes the Resolution or Dénouement. This is when the author has his character(s) solve the Problem. If this is not done with finesse and great imagination, then the reader will experience disappointment instead of excitement. And, finally, a nice ending always helps to clear up loose ends and to slowly bring the reader back to the here and now, something I call Emergence from the Dream.

So Story = Hook + Problem + Development + Resolution + Emergence.

And I would say this to aspiring authors: Why not begin to put these structural components in place in your stories consciously rather than instinctively?
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
The stories I write and the stories I publish have, to date, followed a simple but very different rule: I have promised myself never to publish something in the same genre twice. Now this hasn't been an issue—I've written 9 books and published two anthologies, none in the same genre. But recently I've begun to write short stories and have realized I could quickly run out of genres. So, I have dropped my rule for short stories only. Other than this I always strive to write the very best book I can with the skills available to me at that time.
How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
I believe all fiction writing comes from our experience or is extrapolated therefrom. One of my major influencers, Damon Knight, stated that a person should not be allowed to write (for the consumption of others) until the age of forty. He explained that until this age a writer didn't have the personal experiences from which to draw. Now, this doesn't mean that everything must be gleaned directly; no, book learning, movies, even the development of your own imagination is acceptable. The point being that age and experience enhances the ability to draw rich and useful imagery from your mind.
What inspired you to publish The Speed of Dark?
I suffer from attention and memory problems. They were so problematic over the past year or so that I wasn't able to achieve my current goal, which was to write a book full of short stories. In fact I managed to come up with a total of two publishable horror stories. So, I decided to do the next best thing and put together a bunch of short stories written by other people. I didn't make the decision lightly, having published a short story anthology the previous year and knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. But once decided upon it was easy. I already knew I wanted it to be horror and knew enough talented authors that I could do a by invitation only anthology. The rest was a breeze.

By the way, I'm proud to say my two horror stories made it through our story selection process.
Congratulations! How did you come up with the title?
The title was one I've been carrying around in my head for almost 20 years. You see, one night many years ago, my 4 year-old son, who had already been put to bed, came down the stairs and asked me "What's the speed of dark?" I was so blown away that I knew somehow somewhere I was going to use what had happened in a story. So the book, and my own story with the title The Speed of Dark, answers that old question. I hope our readers will be disturbed. Hee...hee.
What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I have no fear. I will go anywhere my stories demand, and genres be damned.
When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
I was surprised that while writing was very difficult one could make it a habit like anything else in this life. That's what I have, you know—a writing habit. That's what makes someone a writer.
Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I celebrate all the way through. For example, if I solve a particularly difficult dialogue problem, I might go out and treat myself to ice cream. But, of course, the big celebration is when something is published. Not written, published. It's then I pull out a fine single malt scotch and have a "wee dram."
Do you have a set writing routine?
Yes. I sit down in front of a blank screen and stay there for at least an hour. Once I get writing, there's no preset time limit. I work until tired or until the outer world intrudes.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Yes. I have a huge selection of music on my laptop, mostly soft rock and folk music from the 50s forward. Oh yes, Doris Day show tunes and lots of Billie Holiday!
Very inspiring ladies. What do you like least about writing?
Dealing with other editors.
Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
The room is 12 feet by 14 feet. There is a full size couch with book shelves on either end. A large pine trunk sits alongside the couch and acts as my desk. There is one laptop on the desk and another one that you can find on my lap where I sit stretched out on the couch. One side of the room is decorated with Masonic items (including a table full of the stuff!), the other sports my collection of metal signs. Then, opposite the couch, you'll find a kitchenette, including a full set of cupboards.
Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
Damon Knight, Stephen King, John D. McDonald and a slew of others.
Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon. All of John D. MacDonald's books. All of Louis L'Amours Westerns. Everything by Stephen King. Fear by L. Ron Hubbard. The Man in the Tree by Damon Knight. All of Alistair MacLean's books. All of Desmond Bagley's books. The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey. The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. See You at The Top by Zig Ziglar. The complete works of Robert Frost.
Quite a collection. You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
The Bible. Because it's so damn long and so damn irritating. Also, it would have plenty of material to memorize and analyze.
Have any new authors caught your interest?
Every day. There are so many I'll never get to read them all.
What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
I'm going to spend that year writing short stories. And I already have a new story making its rounds.
Who supports your writing activities most?
Other writers.
What does your family think of your writing?
They all think I'm pretty weird. That being said, my family has supported me completely in anything I've decided to do.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write! If you don't write and do some marketing every day, then you'll stay an aspiring writer.
Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
Reading and movies. (Not really non-writing activities are they? :-)
Close enough. Thanks, Clayton. Let’s sample some of The Speed of Dark.

Blurb:
The Speed of Dark is a 334 page horror anthology. The short stories are strangely different and disturbing. There are 27 tales written by 19 talented authors from around the world--authors who were included by invitation only. We have done our utmost to provide the horror fan with hours of fantastic reading.

Excerpt:
This is a very short except from a story by the prolific and talented John B. Rosenman. It's called "Jesse's Hair" and is so creepy, I hate to give you any more...

A bluebottle big as a marble buzzes a tad too close and I snatch it like a sly frog. I hold it in my fist, hearin' it buzz and rattle round in there, and sneak a peek up and down the street. 'Cept for Chauncy leanin' against one of them Texaco pumps, no one's in sight.

Quick as a flash, I pinch Mr. Fly to an oozy pulp. Bye bye, caught ya loafin'.

Before I leave, the headline in the paper rack catches my eye. Seems a man burned to a crisp over by Squaw river in Dobe county. Makes five so far this summer.

Been hot as a bitch since June.
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About Clayton Bye:

Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 9 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and hundreds of reviews, he is in the process of publishing his second anthology of excellent short stories by some great talents from around the world. The first book featured general fiction, while the current offering is horror, through and through.

Mr. Bye also offers a wide range of writing services, including small business management for writers
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The Speed of Dark / Available in Print and E-book from

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