(Share the Horror Interview) Bram Stoker nominee, Matt Hayward, talks Scares that Care, the most-anticipated anthology of the year,Welcome to the Show, and his new novel with Patrick Lacey, Practitioners.

I got the chance to catch up with ultra-busy horror author/musician, Matt Hayward, this week. We talked new books and more. Check it out.

Practitioners is your new book for Bloodshot Books. I know Patrick Lacey came out to visit you in Ireland. Is that when this story was born? 

We’d actually come up with the idea at the Scares That Care bar a few months before. I’d had a short story that a publisher wanted, but they needed the ending changed. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so I tucked it away, but the main character always spoke to me. I ended up pitching that as a first chapter to Pat and he really liked the idea, so by the time he came here to Ireland (a few months later), we were actually sending the finished manuscript out to publishers.

How did you guys handle the writing? Were you sending chapters back and forth like King and Straub? 

Chapter by chapter. Since I had chapter one as a short story well before we started, I tweaked it and emailed it to Pat to see where he’d take it. We hardly spoke about the direction at all, instead, we allowed for our chapters to lead themselves. I’d hide a clue or two for Pat and he’d do the same. We wrote fast, almost a chapter a day. I did most of mine in a single sitting.

Where did your influence come from for you in this story? Was it a movie, something going on in your life or a friend’s life?  There’s always a bit of truth or observation of the present happening in a writer’s work. Anything specific you can recall that worked itself out and into the characters or scenes? 

The influence was really just the fun of the project itself. Every time I read one of Pat’s chapters, I was itching to add to it and fire it back. In terms of themes, I know we were both going through a rough time, and those personal problems popped up here and there. I think those themes are self-evident when you read it. Unless Pat was attacked by a praying mantis and never told me.

Every piece is different, and working with another mind has got to alter things further. What were the challenges and also the wow moments for you in the writing process with this one? 

I honestly don’t recall a single problem. We worked well together, we worked fast, and the ‘wow’ factor was when Pat took a turn I didn’t see coming. It makes you appreciate another author’s perspective, to view their process in real-time.  

How was it working with Bloodshot Books? They seem like a very easy, very cool publisher. 

They’ve been great. The book looks fantastic, and Rachel Autumn Deering did an incredible job of the artwork. Tim Meyer gave us an amazing blurb, and the reception’s been extremely humbling. I did a pass of edits, then Pat, then we fired it off to Pete at Blood Shot for one final check over and it was finished.  

Coming off a well-deserved Stoker nomination, you have a number of works that have just come out or are on their way. What’s been the best response you‘ve gotten about a particular book or story, and how have you handled such a busy schedule?

The best response has been hearing from people who connected with WHAT TO MONSTERS FEAR? That was a very personal book and I’m glad to see folks enjoyed it so much. You can’t please everyone all the time, but I’m glad to see that the work’s been pleasing the right ones. As for my schedule, I just cut everything up into manageable blocks, man. One thousand words a day for a novel or short story, evenings for edits, and nights for promotion and answering emails. 

You have Welcome to the Show coming out next, and a trip to Scares that Care. With travel and being as involved in the anthology as you are, I can imagine it has its trying moments.  How much fun are you having versus how much stress? It a tricky thing to balance or is it just part of the game?

The only stressful part is that I don’t get to stay in the States longer. It’s horrible getting caught up with everyone and then before you know it, it’s back home to work you go. Rachel Autumn Deering was here for a week earlier in the month, and just being around another writer to bounce ideas and talk shop is very energizing. The seven-hour flight with no nicotine is gonna stress me out as usual, though. 

Any parting message for people considering picking up a copy of Practitioners?

Just that I hope they enjoy it, and thanks for reading. Pat and I enjoyed writing Henry and George a lot, and I’ve pitched another story involving the two to Pat not long ago. We’ll see. If readers want more, I know Henry and George have some mileage left. I know George has moved to a new town… But I also know there’s a strange woman with a peculiar deck of cards visiting town, too. 

 Matt Hayward is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated author and musician from Ireland. His debut collection BRAIN DEAD BLUES released in May 2017, and his first novel WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? in July. PRACTITIONERS, a collaboration with author Patrick Lacey, is set for release in 2018 through Blood Shot Books, as well as his second novel THE FAITHFUL. He is currently writing a novel with Bryan Smith and has just released a comic book with the band WALKING PAPERS. Matt received a nomination for short story of the year from Penguin Books in 2017, and his work has appeared in CLICKERS FOREVER: A TRIBUTE TO J.F. GONZALEZ, TALES FROM THE LAKE, DARK MOON DIGEST, THE HORROR ZINE, TALES TO TERRIFY, and more


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