Sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house? This author has a quick answer for that. Skip the coffin and send her the address of the haunted house. With the eerie experience she had in an abandoned hospital years ago, you’d think she wouldn’t be so eager. Guess again. Welcome Laya V. Smith!
Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?
Oh, that’s easy. Spending the night in a haunted house is a genuine goal of mine. If anybody knows of any, please send me the address. It doesn’t come out at all in my current release, but I am obsessed with ghosts, and let’s just say I have had one or two experiences that have left me cautiously optimistic about the possibilities. When I was a teenager, my then boyfriend and I broke into an abandoned hospital just to have a look around. There was graffiti all over the walls, twists of metal from broken hospital beds and wheel chairs littering the floor. A certifiably creepy place. Everywhere we went, the wide dark halls echoed and seemed to talk back. And then we came upon the third floor. The fluorescent lights in the ceiling were flickering, though there had been no electricity in any other part of the building and it had been abandoned for years. There were carpets on the floor and a clipboard on the reception desk, and yet everything else was still derelict—broken windows, rotted wooden beams. We took a few cautious steps into the room and then we heard the sound of a chain being dragged across the floor upstairs, followed by the bellow of an enormous dog. We had been the building for a few hours at that point and had heard nothing, but suddenly the sound was all around us. The lights flickered off. We turned and ran for it, and the chain rattling and dragging on the floor chased us out of the building.
I will never forget that night, the way my heart pounded in my chest and how in that moment, I was prepared to believe in anything. But still, I would want to sleep in a haunted house. Call me a gluten for punishment.
Name three items you’d take to spend the night in a haunted house.
1) a flashlight; 2) a backup flashlight, one of those pump action survivalist kinds; and 3) some flares or a lantern, anything that can make light without relying on electricity. Darkness is your enemy when you’re afraid and you need to bring along every weapon to combat it.
Would you rather use a Ouija board or participate in a séance?
Actually, I have done both of these things, though only with friends, not with a ‘professional’. When I was a kid, we made our own Ouija board with craft paper and used an old magnifying glass for the finder. We also used to go into the graveyard near my house and hold our own little séances. It was silly and most of the time we’d just be poking each other trying to get cheap thrills out of it. Now that I’m older, I would say if I were presented with an organic opportunity to participate in a real séance, I would, just out of curiosity. Just to have the experience. Not because I would expect anything to really come of it. Though of course, not unlike spending a night in a haunted house, I would be cautiously optimistic. The truth is, nobody can know with absolute certainty what is really out there. You can have a good idea. You can be 99.9% certain that there is no such thing as ghosts, but you can never be 100%. You can never gather 100% of the information and you can’t categorically prove a negative. Do ghosts exist? I honestly don’t know.
Do you write to music?
I do. I tend to create playlists for different works, for different characters, and even for specific themes or scenes. Sometimes I listen to these while I write, but often they become a distraction so I listen to them more while I’m thinking about writing. When I’m revising and editing, I tend to do it in silence so that I can focus more on the nitty-gritty, but for first drafts creating the right emotional atmosphere is more important to me.
What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?
There is a scene in my book where my main character, Augy Small, is captured by the bad guys and imprisoned in a small, completely black room. He is afraid of the dark after the time he spent as a prisoner of war, working in a mine in near total darkness for three years. All of his fears come bubbling to the surface, his every nightmare churning around him. At this moment, he has lost all hope and failed at every one of his goals, and all the demons that have been taunting him throughout the book rush back to take their pound of flesh. It was a really difficult scene to write because I love Augy so much. He is one of my favorite characters I have ever created, and he has such strength and resilience. To break him down to his bare bones in that scene was one the hardest things I’ve ever written in my life, not just for this book.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am focusing on completing the revision of a haunted house novel. It is set in rural France and follows the adventures of two American brothers who are forced to return to their family’s old estate to confront an ancient curse, and in the process come to terms with the death of their father and their own dark secrets. It’s a bit of The Haunting of Hill House meets Silent Hill, though without the hill. It focuses largely on family intrigue and flawed human nature, and how insecurities feed fear, anger and suffering. It is faced-paced and not for the faint of heart, much like The Lumbermill, and the main characters are snarky and very flawed, though unexpectedly noble in their own ways. I’ve been working on it for sometime and am very excited to be at a point where it is nearly ready for publication.
Los Angeles, 1954.
Sending a pair of mass murderers to the chair got his name in the papers, but veteran fighter pilot turned detective, Augy Small, couldn’t celebrate. The culprits confessed, but the cops only ever found one body. Who had the killers died to protect?
Katya Tyler, a Russian enigma with a wad of cash in one hand and a hit list in the other, claims to have the answers. First, she wants Augy’s help to bring down a massive underground network of human traffickers.
As the case unfolds, every clue is an echo of his past. The horrors he experienced in the Pacific, shadows of scars he still carries, and rumors of a place long since destroyed.
The Lumbermill is back in operation. Every day more innocents are harvested, their screams muffled in darkness. And the only way Augy can stop it is to go back into the nightmare he thought he’d escaped forever.
Laya V Smith is the author of “The Lumbermill”, a new Noir thriller available through Black Rose Writing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, SCBWI, AWP, and LUW. Through no fault of her own, she was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and still lives there with her husband and two children. She has a degree in history from the University of Utah and a deep passion for the subject.