After reading Once Upon A Nightmare, (one of the best horror thrillers I've read in a long time but check out my review if you need more convincing) author Lee Moylan took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions and generously offered a giveaway of her book. I've had a lot of fun talking with Lee over the last month & I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
Please join me in welcoming Lee Moylan to The Eclectic Reader, and read on for an absolutely fascinating interview! I kid you not, Lee has some really interesting and seriously freaky stuff to share and her sense of humour is pretty cool too :-)
As per usual my questions are in bold & Lee's answers are in normal type.
Can you give readers a description of what Once Upon A Nightmare is about?
Once Upon a Nightmare is a graphic and disturbing story about two women who share a kind of psychic bond and the sadistic serial killer who has targeted them. Despite both women having an ability to 'sense' bad things on the horizon, neither one knows the who, what, where or when. The killer watches them - is near enough to touch them - yet they don't know who he is. As the story unfolds, we get a glimpse inside the killer's mind - hear the dark, twisted thoughts that drive him. But only as he gets closer to his ultimate goal, Sara Bishop, do we get a real taste of the true evil within...
I understand that your inspiration for Once Upon A Nightmare came from a nightmare you had yourself. Can you give us all the gory details?
Yes, but beware, it’s not for the squeamish… I woke in the morning to my husband getting our kids ready to go out for breakfast. Good ol’ McDonald’s. They asked if I wanted to go, but considering I had the rare opportunity to sleep-in undisturbed, I took it. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. That’s when the nightmare started...
In the dream, I awoke to an unnaturally quiet home. As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw it. My mouth just dropped! My entire room was splattered with blood, not just droplets - it was as if buckets had been splashed around! My walls were covered. My ceiling was sprayed. My beige carpet was saturated. Right beside my bed was a large butterfly-shaped pool of red. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And I thought I was awake!
I knew my husband and kids had just gone to eat, so I assumed a stranger had come in while I was asleep and killed someone in my home! In addition to the blood, there were body parts everywhere, organs, tissue. It looked like photos I’ve seen from Jack the Ripper’s last victim, Mary Kelley. I couldn’t scream. I was completely mute.
Then I looked around my bed. It, too, was covered in blood. I started to feel faint when I noticed this strange out-of-body thing happening… Wherever I wanted to be in the room, like magic, I was there… Across the room… On top of the bed… By the window… But I knew I wasn’t walking, I wasn’t moving. I was simply just there!
That’s when I realized I was no longer of body. I forced myself to look at the largest remains on the floor. It was a torso I recognized. It was mine. I had been the one mutilated! I couldn’t breathe. I just felt a hollowness well up inside me words will never be able to describe.
And I can still remember my very next thought. It wasn’t how did this happen. It wasn’t’ why. It was of my family. I knew they’d be coming home soon, and I couldn’t let them find me like that. I knew it would be a life-altering trauma they would never recover from…
So I set off to stop that from happening. I (well actually my spirit) went to my neighbour who was one of my closest friends. I tried yelling, shouting, pushing her, anything to get her attention, but she couldn’t hear me. When I finally started to cry beside her, she seemed to sense my presence. I kept saying, “something horrible has happened, get my key…” She stopped typing at her computer, stood up and began looking around her room. I knew somehow I was getting through… She understood. She sensed what I was saying. And then she got my key and went to my home.
The entire time I was beside her. I just kept telling her to call the police, keep my family from seeing me and lastly, I begged her to find out who did it. Those were my last wishes…
And then I really woke up!!! My family still wasn’t home, so the first thing I did was race to my friend’s house! When I finished telling her about the nightmare, I knew. This was it. This was the story I was going to write…
How long did it take you to write?
Just over two years.
You have a degree in biochemistry and a passion for forensic science which I believe comes through in your writing. No doubt you have drawn on your personal experience/education to bring the reader that degree of believability?
Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I’ve drawn on years of reading/studying every science I could – physical, life, behavioural, you name it. My anatomy and physiology courses definitely helped with the bodily descriptions, and my psychology courses helped with the mental profiles. My own life story and the cast of characters I’ve encountered throughout my days filled in the rest… You know what they say, be careful or you’ll end up in my novel! Now isn’t that a comforting thought?
Do you find it difficult slipping into the skin or the mind of the truly sick, evil, twisted characters you write about?
Yes, it is a troublesome place to be. When I write from their perspective, I obviously must go there. It reminds me of a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you.”
It’s a darkness most people avoid because it’s just not a good place to be. It can be quite overwhelming. For me though, it was always something I needed to understand - regardless of how uncomfortable it made me. I can’t stand to see an animal suffer, let alone a human being. How does one take pleasure from another’s pain? I needed an answer.
Thankfully, I’m good at compartmentalizing. I have no doubt the material I’ve exposed myself to is the source of my nightmares, but I believe the knowledge I’ve gained far outweighs the occasional night terror.
I commented in my review, Once Upon A Nightmare is “poop your pants” scary, does some of the stuff you write actually scare you?
Well what I write doesn’t scare me because I wrote it!!! But the subject matter, oh yeah. I write about the evil men do. That stuff scares me... Or should I say, it profoundly disturbs me…
Is there anything you find particularly challenging when you’re writing?
Due to life’s daily interruptions, it takes a while for me to write a novel and the characters, both the good ones and the bad, stay with me the entire time. And I absolutely hated writing those truly gruesome scenes. I had to take frequent breaks to get the visions out of my head. I was in those scenes while I was writing them and had a hard time disconnecting from the victims. It was gruelling. My friends and family could tell when I was writing something bad by the disturbed look I wore throughout that day.
But I am happy to report that is no longer the case… Thank goodness! Now, I can finally detach myself from the scenes I’m writing and carry on my day with little wear and tear! Sigh…
What’s next on the table for Lee Moylan? And what was the inspiration behind it?
I have another thriller I’ve been working on, not titled yet... And this one’s inspiration happens to be another nightmare! This particular dream was so twisted and creepy, I put the story I was writing on hold to start this new one.
When you were little what did you want to grow up to be?
From the first time I saw the TV show Quincy, I wanted to be a medical examiner. Yeah, I know… What twelve year old kid wants to grow up to be a coroner, right? Well, I did! OK, let me explain… Being an avid watcher of the show, I learned Quincy helped solve crimes/murders. That’s what I wanted to do!
Favourite book as a child?
How about favourite book as a teen? It was Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It’s a story that can still bring tears to my eyes.
What are you reading now?
You Suck: A Love Story
Is there another horror/thriller writer that really scares the pants off you?
That would be Stephen King. Pet Semetery caused me quite a few sleepless nights. And Pennywise from It… Ooohh, that clown still gives me the creeps!
If you could be any character from a novel who would you be and why?
I don’t know that I’ve ever read a character I wanted to be, but I do have a favourite - Meggie Cleary from The Thorn Birds. She possessed such a pure love. She made every sacrifice for it. But she wasn’t perfect. She was flawed. Her life filled with tragedy. But despite every heartbreak, she never lost her ability to love. I found her painfully tragic and triumphant all at the same time. She was a great character.
Tell us a secret, something the blogosphere doesn’t know?
I’m a black belt.
Bookmark or Dog ear?
Oh, bookmark… I can’t crease my pages!
Favourite junk food?
It’s a toss-up… Pizza or hot dogs.
Favourite way to relax?
Going to a movie – anything from horror to romantic comedies. It’s great down-time.
Do you have a Guilty pleasure?
Yes, chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate!
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve been scuba diving in Hawaii and white water rafting in Canada. They were both pretty exhilarating.
If you could go anywhere for a holiday, where would you go and why?
Hmmm… It would probably be either Rome or London. I’ve been to both before and being a huge history fan, I was awe-struck to have stood where some of the greatest historical figures once were. Walking around the Forum in Rome and the Colosseum gave me goose bumps. Julius Caesar walked those same steps.
Oh, or Copenhagen - my grandparents’ hometown. They walked there!
3 must have items if you were stranded on a tropical island?
Let’s see… I need a flashlight, an ice skate and a volleyball I can name Wilson… Oh wait, that was Tom Hanks in Castaway... OK, then I want a Boeing 747, a runway, and a pilot so I can get the heck off the island!
Describe yourself in three words.
Passionate, Intense, Perceptive
Anything random you’d like to add?
Yes… Embrace your imperfections – they are the source of your uniqueness! It’s my thought of the day!
Thanks so much Lee, I loved the in-depth look at the inspiration behind Once Upon A Nightmare. I've had some wicked nightmares but I hope never to have one as graphic as yours. If you'd like to know more about Lee Moylan visit her website.
I am thrilled to be able to offer readers a chance to win a copy of Once Upon A Nightmare thanks to Lee Moylan. Lee will post to the winner personally, isn't she awesome!!
Competition is international
HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a comment or question for Lee with an email address to be entered in the giveaway ~ no email, no entry!
+ 1 share your worst nightmare.
+ 2 comment on my review of Once Upon A Nightmare & let me know. (if you've previously commented, you'll get the points)
+ 2 post this on your blog, sidebar, tweet it etc & leave me a link
Competition ends Monday November 9th and winner will be announced on this blog. Good luck to all!
Can't wait ~ purchase Once Upon A Nightmare from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or The Book Depository (free postage)
To celebrate my 1st Blogoversary two lucky readers can take their pick from a choice of 6 books in this month's spookalicious competition. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.