Author Guest Post: Horror Writer Lorne Dixon on his writing process

blueeelIt may have come up that I am a huge horror fan. So I was very excited to get my hands on Lorne Dixon’s ultra creepy Blue Eel. From the beginning, the novel creates a pervasive sense of dread that weaves its way through your brain until you’ve turned the very last page. Whether you’re a horror fan or just a fan of interesting writing, you’ll want to read what Lorne has shared with us about his writing process.  His thoughts remind me of my favourite Stephen King quote (that’s high praise).   Without further ado, Lorne Dixon:


When I write, I listen. Don’t worry, this isn’t gonna get weird. I’m not about to launch into any barely coherent rant about hearing the voice of the universe speaking or anything. If there’s any magical forces out there trying to communicate, I’m pretty much deaf to them. No, when I sit down to write, I turn music on— and up. Sometimes vinyl, other times CDs, too often a digital file. Headphones optional.

ssshSometimes when I talk to other writers, the subject comes up. Often, they say things like, “Oh, no, someone singing would distract me.” Or, “Classical, some jazz, but something I can tune out.”

That’s madness.

heathernovaDuring the drafting of my novel Blue Eel, I listened to a wide variety of music, from the bombast of industro-posthardcore act I See Stars to the pop-punk perfection of We Are The In Crowd. The new Heather Nova album helped put me in the right mental space for some of the darker, more melancholy moments. Astronautalis’s alternative hip-hop drew out a post-modern noir moodiness when I needed it. And when it came time to amp up the climatic violence, I cranked up White Lung to a level that would make Spinal Tap blush.

And I don’t just use Rock n’ Roll to set the mood. Each major character leonardhad a soundtrack to help guide me to their voice. Branson Turaco sounds like Chris Cornell. Troubled intern-turned-facilitator Abriella’s voice has the rasp of Fit For Rivals frontwoman Rene Phoenix. Disgraced filmmaker Marius Spiegler? Later-day Leonard Cohen.

Rock n’ Roll is an art form that rejects limitations. Songwriters don’t need an orchestra to produce meaningful work. This parallels horror fiction nicely.

Drew Barrymore in Wes Craven's "Scream"

Other genres require some level of adherence to tropes. While horror has no shortage of clichés, it remains free to break free of every single one of them without losing its credibility with its core audience. Rock and Roll doesn’t necessarily need guitars. And horror doesn’t need traditional monsters or virginal survivors. Not that there’s anything wrong with another band channeling the Beatles, but it wouldn’t be Rock n’ Roll if that was the aspiration of every band.

I’m talking about symbiosis here. William S. Burroughs inspired Kurt Cobain. Patti Smith produces first rate poetry and Rock— often at the same time. I’m proud to be inspired by H. P. Lovecraft and Alice Cooper about in equal measure. I’m indebted to Charles L. Grant and Dead Sara. I’m working on a new novel with inspiration from William Peter Blatty and Fiona Apple.

So, yeah, when I write, I listen.

-Lorne Dixon

Lorne Dixon grew up on a diet of yellow-spined paperbacks, black-and-white monster movies, and the thunder-lizard backbeat of Rock n’ Roll. His new novel, Blue Eel, is available now from Cutting Block Books.

Want to win a copy of Blue Eel? Simply be the third commenter to tell us what music you would listen to when you read it.  (Winners must be able to pick up the book from the North Vancouver City Library.) Good luck!



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