I came across Patrick Lacey in 2015. He was one of the new authors signing with Samhain Publishing. I reached out and invited him to the Samhain Author Secret Club I’d started on Facebook. He seemed cool. I read his novella, A Debt to be Paid, and found that he was also talented. I suddenly realized that I’d seen his name before. Looking through my bookshelf, I found that we’d published alongside one another in an anthology called, PAVOR NOCTURNUS: Dark fiction Anthology Vol. II. He had a great story in there called, “Pen Pals”.
We all know Samhain collapsed shortly after firing Don D’Auria. Lucky for us newer guys at the company, Sinister Grin Press was there to catch our fall. Shortly after announcing that my latest (Chasing Ghosts) would be published by SGP, Lacey announced that they had also picked up his novel, DREAM WOODS.
The book was originally signed by Samhain, but after they announced their intentions to close, they allowed a number of authors to retrieve the rights to the unpublished books.
Between the release of his Samhain novella, and Dream Woods, Lacey also put out an amazing collection of short stories (which you should go buy right now) titled, SLEEP PARALYSIS.
I’ve only known the guy for about a year, but it already feels much longer than that. So, let’s bring him in and poke at his brain. Let’s enter Lacey’s Dream Woods….
Glenn Rolfe: The first thing I noticed about this book was how much it felt like a lost Bentley Little book…hell, it could have been called, The Amusement Park. I know you’re a big Little fan. We’ve both mentioned how great we think his novel, The Store, is. Do you feel like his fingerprints are on Dream Woods?
PATRICK LACEY: Oh man, there’s no denying it. For me, Little is one of the all-time masters and one of the few horror authors that consistently scares me. Some of his imagery is so odd, bizarre, so out there, that it gets under your skin in a way you can barely describe. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a short story about a farmer falling in love with a potato and managed to make me lose sleep. He’s a freaking genius. So I channeled my inner Little in some of the scenes within Dream Woods. I, too, like to take every day scenarios and make them seem just a bit off before ramping up the weirdness factor. There’s a certain vending machine scene that I think/hope would make Mr. Little proud.
GR: There’s some punk rock going on within the characters. I know you play, did you have a band, and how much of what Vince and Audra are going through personally have you felt yourself.
PL: For sure. I grew up north of Boston and there was a decent music scene in my little town. Lots of punk and hardcore and metal. I spent almost every weekend in high school going to shows and eventually playing at them with my own bands. As far as Vince versus Audra, I actually don’t fall into either category. Vince is an aging punk rocker who’s taken to adulthood completely, whereas Audra is pushing it off as much as possible. I’m still as immature as I was back in high school. I just hide it well. I also don’t think one has to become a slave to the system just because they have a full time job and turn thirty. Rock and roll knows no age.
GR: This story takes place at an amusement park, but within that, you get to play in a hotel setting, too. I love hotel stories. Hotels seem to be among the most perfect playgrounds for horror writers. Did you find that to be true?
PL: There’s this book. I think it’s called The Shining? Kidding. Yes, hotels are breeding grounds for horror stories. Whenever I stay at one, I like to wander the halls at an hour that would make me seem quite creepy. I think about all people who have stayed there over the years and start to get the heebie jeebies. Plus, I always seem to wind up at a vending machine. Sensing a theme here.
GR: I loved that you really made sure to make each of the main characters decipherable from one another. Each faces their own personal demons or struggles. Did you spend a lot of time crafting each of them, or was it one of those things that just developed naturally during the writing process?
PL: Glad you found them decipherable! I’m not a big plotter but I do have an idea of my characters’ main issues when I start a book. That said, they often end up steering me in different directions. For instance, I didn’t know one of the Carter boys was going to be diabetic until I started typing away on his first chapter. His condition actually became a big part of the book and I started to run off with the idea of a theme park knowing your true fears.
GR: Dream Woods was originally supposed to be a Samhain Publishing title. How exciting was it to hook up with Sinister Grin Press?
PL: I was a huge fan of Sinister Grin before working with them and they were always on my list of dream (pun intended) publishers that I wanted to work with. They are great to work with and saved the day when something came up just prior to this book’s publication. I’m talking a real eleventh hour scenario. And I’ll be working with them again in the near future.*
GR: You got to attend your first Scares That Care this past summer. What were some of the highlights and takeaways for you? And you can skip Saturday night (if you want).
GR: Of course, I’ll skip over Saturday night. I mean, what kind of guy would I be if I mentioned the ten or so pitchers of beer that we split, or the countless karaoke videos I took of you, or one of us sleeping on a sidewalk. Anyway, it was the…best…con…ever. I got to meet so many awesome readers and writers and despite the debauchery, every single vendor and attendee is constantly aware of how amazing the charity is. My main takeaway, though, would be how delicious the hotel bar’s chicken wings were. #priorities
GR: Oh, the memories…all that beer… Back to the interview. Which authors would you say have been a huge influence on you? Any that are under the radar?
PL: In addition to Bentley Little (did I already mention him?), there’s Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Stewart O’Nan, Graham Joyce, Elmore Leonard, Brian Keene, Richard Matheson, John Skipp, Sarah Langan, and Joe Lansdale for my formative years. For newer (relatively speaking, considering some of these folks have been at it for over a decade) peeps that are influencing me as we speak, you’ve got Paul Tremblay, Adam Cesare, Laird Barron, Kristopher Rufty, Jonathan Janz, Mercedes M. Yardley, Orrin Grey, Michael Weihunt, Aaron Dries…the list could go on forever. Also, this guy named Glenn something or other.
GR: I know that guy! I also know you’re a scary movie guy. Do films play into your writing? If so, which ones and what aspects in particular do you feel find their way into your work?
PL: Maybe? I’ve had a plethora of people call my writing “cinematic” but I’m not good at self-analyzing my stuff. My favorite types of horror movies are those that bend reality. Think A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jacob’s Ladder, The Beyond, In the Mouth of Madness, etc. I definitely think they’re present in a lot of my work. I have a novel sitting with a publisher right now that’s my love letter to this type of story.
GR: I loved Jacob’s Ladder. Very trippy! Okay, let’s do some rapid fire:
Best horror movie to watch: See above. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Seen it more than any other film ever. It’s the first movie I remember watching and it never, under any circumstances, gets old.
Favorite fancy beer: Belgian Strong Dark ale brewed with cinnamon, on oak chips with figs.
Favorite crappy beer: Gotta go with PBR. I mean it won a blue ribbon. Did you know that?
Favorite book to read in October: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge is one of my favorite seasonal reads. It’s like Halloween Hunger Games. I wish I was reading it right this moment.
Would you rather (Death Edition) …be hit by a bus or punched out of a helicopter: I hate to take the obvious route but I’d rather be attacked by two transformers that moonlight as a bus and helicopter, respectively. First, I’m riding the bus when it morphs into its robot counterpart, therefore crushing me within its robot bones. As I’m hurled out onto the street, with my last few dying breaths, I see a helicopter transform into its robot counterpart and guess what? Its fists? You guessed it. Both propellers. One punch and I’m all guts and gore strewn about. But like I said: obvious.
GR: Obvious? Yep. What’s next for you? Books to read, book releases, conventions, podcasts? Feel free to mention anything you want.
PL: Let’s see. I’m reading an ARC of Where the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allen Gunnells (to be released by Crystal Lake Publishing) and it’s great so far. For my next release, Sinister Grin will be putting out my second novel Darkness in Lynnwood. It’s a small town horror novel about a teenage cult and is the most personal book I’ve written yet. It may or may not have driven me to the brink of insanity several times during the writing process. That should be released early to mid-2017. Then for conventions, I’ll be at Rock and Shock this October 14th, 15th, and 16th, hawking my books alongside my pals Adam Cesare and Bracken McLeod. And you bet your ass I’ll be back at Scares That Care next year. In fact, I think I have a table with that Glenn guy I mentioned earlier.
GR: Oh yeah…that’s going to be fun. Anyways, thanks for stopping by, jerk.
PL: It was my pleasure, bastard.
Follow Patrick’s Blog tour for DREAM WOODS below:
Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #DreamWoods #ScreamWoods #PeskyBear
Dream Woods, Synopsis
- Print Length: 135 pages
- Publisher: Sinister Press
- Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Follow your screams…
When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.
The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.
His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.
The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.
Welcome to Scream Woods!
Patrick Lacey, Biography
Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit hiswebsite.
Praise for Patrick Lacey
“This collection has it all, showing the world that Lacey can write and do it well. From frightening, eerie, soul-stamping to funny and gross, this book has it all. The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author ofA Mixed Bag of Blood
“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, Amazon Review
“This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.” – Russell James, author of Q Island, on A Debt to Be Paid