Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What frightens you most? An interview with horror author Erik Lynd

Today, I'm virtually sitting down with horror author Erik Lynd to talk about his novel, Asylum.

Erik Lynd is the author of horror and dark fantasy novels including Asylum and The Collection. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two kids. More information about him and his work can be found at

1) Tell us about your novel.
"I am going to tell you the story of how and why I killed my brother. You can think what you want about me afterward, but I want to tell you the whole thing. Even the things I didn't tell the police, the things I didn't tell my own family. I am going to tell you what really happened, the truth. But then maybe it is a fiction . . . perhaps a truth existing merely in my head. Truth or fiction, I don't know, but I do know it's a horror story, and I will only tell it this once."
Forced into a psychiatric hospital by uncaring parents, a teenage boy must master the strange power within himself to overcome the horror gathering in the shadows.

Andrew Harland has been a loner since being diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is shuffled around from juvenile detention centers to outpatient clinics with expensive doctors. Nothing seems to help. His parents, desperate to have him out of the house, decide to send him off to a revolutionary new psychiatric hospital in the Pacific Northwest.

Andrew is different, and he knows it. He always has. So he doesn't hesitate when the voices in his head tell him to climb out on a window ledge . . .

Haunted by his own son's suicide, Dr. David Styles rescues Andrew from the ledge and takes a personal interest in his case. After getting to know him, Dr. Styles becomes suspicious of the boy's diagnosis. What he uncovers sends him on a desperate journey to rescue Andrew.

Because something is terribly wrong at the hospital.

Treatments are conducted at odd hours. Patients disappear into the bowels of the massive, aged building, sometimes never to be seen again, and Andrew is plagued by visions stranger than any he's ever known.

And the voices in Andrew's head are getting louder.
2) What got you interested in writing horror?
Strangely enough I am not 100% sure.  I grew up on science fiction and fantasy, it was only later in life that I picked up a Stephen King novel and enjoyed the genre.  I think what I liked most about horror was that the setting could be familiar (the real world) to most of my readers and I could focus on compelling characters and story.  However, it could still have a dark fantasy element that I enjoyed.  Sort of the best of both worlds.  
3) What inspired the idea behind this particular novel?
A few things came together that clicked for this one.  I had just read a book called Shadowland by Peter Straub that started me thinking I would like to write a novel with teenagers as main characters.  While that was kicking around in my mind I was driving by Stadium High School in Tacoma.  It is a very unique and imposing castle like building.  This inspired me to make the setting a creepy institution of some sort and a mental hospital is about as unusual as they come.
4) You've set your book in the Pacific Northwest. As a transplanted native, I'm well aware that the region has a sort of gloomy reputation among outsiders because of the weather. Did this influence your decision to set your book there at all?
Most definitely.  Although I don't think the weather is as bad as everybody outside of the Northwest thinks it is, it does sort of enhance the dark atmosphere of the book.  It sets an expectation in the readers mind that it won't be a sunshine happy place :)
5) Mental illness and horror have often paired throughout the decades. Why do you think that is?
I think that is because mental illness is so incomprehensible to those of us who are not suffering from it.  It is almost impossible for us to empathize with someone who has a devastating mental illness, to understand what they are going through or how they see the world.  I think this complete unknown is what drives our fear. 
The flip side to this fear is another one; What if they are right?  What if there really are monsters after them?  What if the government is really trying to silence them?   This can provide a lot of story material for authors.
6) It's often said that one of the appeals of fiction is escapism. Horror, however, presents generally darker and more terrible world for the reader, not an escape destination. What, then, is the fundamental appeal for horror?
I don't think it is to be scared, at least not it writing.  Novels don't have that jump out of your seat reaction that movies can induce.  I think every person is aware consciously or subconsciously that everybody has a little darkness in them and horror allows us to explore the darker side of human nature in creative and purely fictional ways.
7) What frightens you the most?
Honestly anything that might endanger my kids.  Ever since becoming a father, my biggest fear is that something might happen to them.  Stephen King once said that the scariest book he ever wrote was Pet Cemetery because it touched upon his own fears of harm coming to his children.  I completely agree with him.
Asylum is available at these fine vendors:

Barnes and noble:

Thanks for stopping by, Erik.


Susanjeanricci said...

Wow, a great interview, hosted by a great author, as well

J.A. Beard said...

Thanks for stopping by and your kind words.

Erik Lynd said...

Thanks Susan. It was a fun interview to do.