Monday’s Friend: Luke Walker
Today I am pleased to welcome back one of my favourite repeat guests, British horror writer Luke Walker. Luke has just released his first collection of short stories, entitled Die Laughing. I haven’t read this one yet, so cannot at this time verify the scariness of the contents, but that cover – eek! What is it about clowns?
Anyway, welcome once more to Imaginary Friends, Luke! Good to have you back.
THE POWER OF FICTION
By Luke Walker
My collection Die Laughing contains eighteen stories that vary in length from 1200 words to about 9000, a story titled The Unmarked Grave. Now, 9k is getting on the long side for a short piece. It isn’t novella territory by any means—probably more novelette. It came a few months ago when I had a strange dream that involved me back in an area in which I used to live. I rounded a corner to see the road lined with shops and homes, heading towards buildings that grew progressively older until they became Victorian. Not just Victorian. Old. Decaying and close to abandoned, they were as creepy as you’d want in an horror film from Hammer; the creepy factor helped by the gloomy light and the fog that became thicker as I walked closer to it. My last clear image after waking was of a small church and its graveyard, both disused, both cold and lonely. While I had no idea what the dream meant, the imagery stayed with me and niggled until I came up with a plot that fit it. That plot, without giving too much away, involves Jack the Ripper (who else, given the imagery?) and a couple with the bad luck to become involved in long-dead history. I’m very happy with the finished story that came from a simple dream, and the dream no longer pokes and prods at me to turn it into fiction.
As horrible as The Unmarked Grave is (and as horrible as the other stories are), there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve included a piece called How To Live Forever as a sort of bonus album track. I could have placed it as the last story and been done with it, but I do see Die Laughing as finishing with a story set in a pub followed by a minute or so of silence before the bonus track kicks in. As How To Live Forever isn’t horror, you could argue it doesn’t fit in the collection. I say otherwise because the power of fiction to horrify, amuse or entertain is a power we shouldn’t ignore or overlook especially in difficult times. Fiction, even of the unpleasant, frightening sort, can save us. While things don’t work out for all of my characters in the stories and it sometimes doesn’t work out for us, we have to remember that sometimes it does.
The differences between the horror, despair and downer that is The Unmarked Grave and the slightly silly, slightly hopeful celebration of fiction that is How To Live Forever is my small way of reminding myself and anyone else who needs to hear it that sometimes it does work out.
Luke Walker has been reading and writing horror and fantasy fiction for as long as he can remember—probably since the age of eight when he borrowed his dad’s collection of Stephen King books before doing the same with his brother’s James Herbert’s. His first two novels, now out of print, were published in 2012 and 2013. His Lovecraftian novella, Mirror of the Nameless, was published by DarkFuse in 2013, and he’s currently at work on a new novel as well as another novella. He is thirty-seven and lives in England with his wife, two cats and more horror dvds than he knows what to do with.