Looking for A Better Life: Kyle M. Scott talks about writing, inspirations and claims a cannibalistic mutant can have a gentle heart.

Kyle M. Scott is the bestselling author of five novels and three collections, all within the horror genre. He lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with his long-suffering partner, their arrogant cat, and an over-active imagination.
He enjoys chatting with his readers, and can regularly be found on social media, despite his somewhat tenuous grasp on technology.

I’ve been looking forward to this…

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Hi, Gavin. I’ve been working within the genre for somewhere close to four years now, and in that time, I’ve released five novels and three collections, with another two novels due for publication this year – one in June and one closer to Autumn. I’ve picked up a few ‘book of the year’ accolades along the way and enjoyed a few best-sellers too. I also have stories featured in three best-selling anthologies.

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KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I’m pretty much a hard-core geek, so reading, gaming and cinema are way up there on the list. I also love travelling, camping, and any kind of urban exploration. I like to seek out the forgotten corners, the ruins and the derelict buildings wherever I wander. I find those places fascinating. They seem to hum with energy, as though the history they’ve witnessed has left an imprint. I love to soak up the atmosphere in those places. It makes for fine inspiration for my novels, too.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

The only book I read willingly as a child, (around nine or ten), was The Hobbit, and I adored it. For some reason, though, it wasn’t enough to set me on the path towards actively reading. The book that did that was Misery by Stephen King. I read that when I was, I think, thirteen, and fell head over heels in love. After that, I snatched up every novel of his I could find and threw myself in. It really began for me there.

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KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I love music and it’s been a massive part of my life since my teenage years, so it’s near impossible for me to pick a favourite album, overall. If I absolutely had to pick just one record, it would probably be Lazer Guided Melodies by Spiritualized. That album feels like the culmination of decades of global sonic exploration to me. It’s perfect. It elevates me while it breaks my heart.

It does play a role in my writing, yeah, but how much of a role, I’m not sure. Music infects my thoughts almost constantly and it definitely bleeds over into the work, but while writing, I tend to avoid most of the music I love, as most of it demands your full attention. Or mine, anyway. Instead, I play old Hammer Horror Classics or 50’s B-Movies with the sound turned down very low. I find they help me relax, and the more relaxed I am, the easier I fall into that hole where a writer’s mind goes when the sweet spot hits.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

Favourite director is, hands down, John Carpenter. I love that man and his work. His movies shaped my childhood, especially Halloween. I’ve seen that movie literally hundreds of times, and I can sink into its world just as easily and just as completely as when I was a little kid sneaking downstairs, after midnight, to watch it while the old folks were asleep. VHS, how I miss you.

Alongside Jaws, Halloween is my favourite movie. Neither of those films ever gets old. I adore them.

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KR: What are you reading now?

I just finished The Terror by Dan Simmons, which I loved, and I’m about to start in on a Bentley Little novel called The Burning. I’ve had my eye on it for a while now. I’m sure your readers know the man’s work. He’s consistently fantastic. I’ve no doubt this one will be the business.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Stephen King is a huge inspiration, as he essentially turned me on to reading, but the guy who’s work planted the seed in my mind that maybe, just maybe, I’d enjoy writing even more than reading, was Richard Laymon. I hated his work when I first read it. I found it far too minimal, far too sparse. Then, for whatever reason, I re-read him, and on that second go-around, I saw the truth of it. He painted worlds as vivid as anyone out there, and did it with zero pretention, directness and an accessibility that I’d never come across before. And his stories were insane. He seemed to bottle the 1980’s video-nasty era and spill it out as words on the page. Laymon’s work is, above all else, just great fun.

Laymon introduced me to other horror authors that then sealed the deal. Bentley Little, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee. Each offered up a new take on the genre that was wholly original. I saw in those guys just how expansive the genre could be. Little was writing surreal horror with socio-political overtones, Ketchum was exploring the deep dark corners of the human heart, and Edward Lee was veering wildly from utterly depraved violent hilarity to Lovecraftian, classically written tomes replete with sexual deviancy. These writers seemed, and seem, unbound by restraints, and they gave me all the inspiration I needed to step up and do my thing.

I was lucky enough to have my work featured alongside Jack Ketchum’s work just before he passed. It was a great honour for me and remains one of my proudest moments. His death was a shock to the whole community. It still doesn’t feel quite real.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I begin with a very basic outline, in that I know where I want the story to go and I know what I want to say with it, but the characters take on lives of their own and they act accordingly. By the time a novel is finished, they’ve grown beyond any parameters I may have foolishly attempted to set them, and in many ways, they take over.

The trick is to stay true to the story’s meaning and my original intent as I spin the plates. And tone is very important to me, too. With Devil’s Day, I wanted to capture the feel of an 80’s monster movie like The Monster Squad or Night of the Creeps, minus the humour. In other stories, like VHS or Love Lies Dead, I was going for black humour. My latest book, A Better Life, has a very serious and thoughtful tone. I always make sure the novel’s feel is right for the story I’m telling.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the story, really, though I’d argue, (with deeply unsavoury pretention, I’m sure), that all life is research, at least in terms of character, experience and place. The technical side of research is almost always a joy. I like to learn new things, so I get a kick from studying an area’s natural eco-cycle or its inhabitants. The gruesome stuff can be trickier. It’s nowhere near as fun researching human depravity and evil as it is writing it.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

It usually begins with a prolonged period of procrastination, sat by my office windows soaking up the sounds from the street outside – the kids playing, the cars drifting by, the birds, the wind, the rain. I try to get myself to a place of calm, which never happens, and then, eventually, I start the first sentence. I always feel sick as I type those first few lines out. It’s like having stage-fright before an audience comprised of my own ego and self-doubt.

After that, the words come, and the sickness goes away, and I disappear for a while. When I resurface, I take a break, then check out what I’ve got and sometimes do a little early editing. It’s all very non-rock’n’roll.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

It’s hard to say, as they all have a place in my heart, and are all so different from one another. I like the playfulness of the Consumed series just as much as I enjoy the sombre tragedy of Where the Dead Ones Play. Once they’re written, they belong to the world, really. All I’m left with are the memories of where I was at, as a person and quite literally, when I wrote them, and the value that those experiences have in my life. I’m proud of them all.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Every writer does, at one point or another. I don’t read them often, but when I do, I find them alternately inspiring, touching. amusing, and even enlightening. The good, the bad, and the ugly all have a place in the grand scheme of things.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

It’s the age-old cliché but write for the love of telling stories. Do it for the right reasons, forget fame, accolades and riches, and set your sights on creating work that is authentic, true to yourself and uncompromising. There’s an old saying regarding The Velvet Underground, (and I’m paraphrasing, here), that says, ‘Only a hundred people heard The Velvet Underground in their day, but every one of those people went on to form a band’. Do it for the art and for the furthering of the craft, be principled, be patient, be humble and be yourself.

KR: What scares you?

I think the greatest enemy of mankind is our own ignorance. It topples empires, divides societies and stifles intellectual evolution. It scares the hell out of me, especially when it’s a wilful ignorance. Our capacity to fool ourselves and to fall in line is horrifying.

That, and spiders.

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KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

They all have their place, I think. I do find hardbacks unwieldy, but they have a certain gravitas. I’m a paperback guy, through and through, though I do read a lot of e-books, mainly because they’re so easy pick up and you can store a whole damn library on your phone. It’s nice to pop out all the lights and be able to sit in the dark with your kindle, too.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

Sure. It’s called A Better Life. It’s a fast-paced, dark and, hopefully, disturbing novel about a little girl who’s kidnapped and held for ransom by some very desperate people. It takes place over one night as things go rapidly south for the kidnappers once they realize she’s no ordinary little girl. It deals with the concepts of sin, penitence and punishment. I’ll pop the blurb below:

Jess is no stranger to pain. Ostracised from her family, deep in debt, and now facing a future potentially more miserable than her past, she’s just crossed a line that she can’t ever come back from. In the desperate hope of securing herself something resembling a better life, Jess has stolen something precious, and she’d wager her life that the owners will pay to see their precious thing returned. The plan is simple…demand the ransom, get the money, make for the border. It’s gone smoothly so far, but she may be wagering a whole lot more than her life on this one desperate act.

Isolated and lonely, Eight-year-old Emily dreams of a brighter future, too. One that’s free from a dark and insidious evil that has poisoned her world since infancy, inspiring dread and fear in all whom she draws near. She’s been kept hidden from the world by parents rich in wealth and impoverished in warmth, and she longs for a life in which love is abundant and fortune inconsequential. Now, snatched from her family by the kind-eyed woman and her small group of friends, Emily has crossed into new, tantalizing territory. She knows why they took her and she knows what they want, but little Emily is far from the innocent child they believe they’ve kidnapped.

She has plans of her own in the search for a better life.

And she’s willing to raise unholy Hell to see them through…

KR: What are you working on now?

I have two novels in the works. The first to be released will be The Infernal, which is an apocalyptic story told from the perspective of a young man who’s burdened with protecting others in a rapidly rotting world, (no zombies) as the entire planet falls into a moral and spiritual abyss. It’s grand in scale but centred on the people involved.

The other is called The Den. It takes place on a much smaller scale. It’s a story of friendship and tragedy set in 1984, and focuses on two boys, one popular and from a middle-class family, the other a victim of bullying and from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s very different to anything I’ve written before. It’s most likely the most horrific thing I’ve written, but it’s not a horror story, or at least it has none of the tropes found in the genre.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

  • One fictional character from your writing.

It’d have to be Roland. He’s a giant, forest-dwelling, cannibalistic mutant with a gentle heart. He stars in a few of my short stories and novellas, though I’d rather not give away which. The big fella knows how to hunt, and he’s aggressive enough to fight off any natural predators that got in our way. The caveat is that one day he may well decide I’d look delicious.

  • One fictional character from any other book.

Captain Crozier from The Terror. He’s a wonderful character and tough as nails. I admire his directness and the strength of his will. That novel is one prolonged and nightmarish battle against death, and he fights a good fight. Also, he’s an Irishman, and I’m a Scotsman, so the banter would be off the leash.

  • One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. Crozier probably wouldn’t be sharing any drink with me besides Scotch, so Jim would be my wingman on those days when you just need a crazy, highly intelligent drinking buddy to burn away the sunset with. This is all assuming that we’re washed ashore with a life’s supply of alcohol, obviously.

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KR: Thank you very much Kyle.

You can follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleMartinScott

Please visit Kyle’s author page here

Jess is no stranger to pain. Ostracised from her family, deep in debt, and now facing a future potentially more miserable than her past, she’s just crossed a line that she can’t ever come back from. In the desperate hope of securing herself something resembling a better life, Jess has stolen something precious, and she’d wager her life that the owners will pay to see their precious thing returned. The plan is simple…demand the ransom, get the money, make for the border. It’s gone smoothly so far, but she may be wagering a whole lot more than her life on this one desperate act.

Isolated and lonely, Eight-year-old Emily dreams of a brighter future, too. One that’s free from a dark and insidious evil that has poisoned her world since infancy, inspiring dread and fear in all whom she draws near. She’s been kept hidden from the world by parents rich in wealth and impoverished in warmth, and she longs for a life in which love is abundant and fortune inconsequential. Now, snatched from her family by the kind-eyed woman and her small group of friends, Emily has crossed into new, tantalizing territory. She knows why they took her and she knows what they want, but little Emily is far from the innocent child they believe they’ve kidnapped.

She has plans of her own in the search for a better life.

And she’s willing to raise unholy Hell to see them through…

You can buy A Better Life from Amazon UK & Amazon US

“Now start sawing…”

Meet Jason.

With his loyal band of maniacs by his side, he’s living the dream – torturing, raping and slaughtering his way across the sunshine state. Depravity, debasement and death are his mantras.

Meet The Girl.

Abducted by Jason’s freewheeling gang of murderers, she’s found herself trapped in an unending nightmare of atrocity and torment. The charismatic Jason is a psychopath with a sense of purpose – to bring his victims down to his level – and The Girl is his new favourite project.

But his prisoner has plans of her own…

With a statewide manhunt closing in fast on Jason, he and his gang are running out of time. Their killing spree and their lives are in danger of coming to a bloody end.

Sanctuary is their only hope…

And they’re about to find a place…a secret place, known to only a very select, esteemed few. A place that never closes its doors. A place that welcomes all, regardless of their sins.

Soon The Girl, Jason and all his devoted followers will come to learn that once you’ve walked the hallowed, ornate halls of The Club, there’s only one way out.

And it’ll be hell to pay…

You can buy The Club from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Welcome to Blackhaven, October 31st, 1984…

It’s the era of drive-ins, home computers, board games and, of course, the video nasty.

In this small, sleepy town, cut off from the hardships and the horrors of the modern world, the people have enjoyed a fruitful, peaceful history for all of the 300 years since its founding. 

That’s all about to change…

Something is coming. Something unspeakable. Something evil.

300 years ago to the day, the founders of Blackhaven made a deal with an outside force in order to secure their comfort and safety. A deal that now, centuries later – as the innocent townsfolk celebrate Allhallow’s Eve with slasher screenings, trick or treating and fire-lit woodland parties – finally requires payment. A deal that will see the streets run red, and the fires rise. The people of Blackhaven are about to learn the true cost of sacrifice, and the true meaning of the witching season. 

Hell is coming to claim what’s owed.

And the Devil will have his day….

You can buy Devil’s Day from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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