Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are very pleased to bring you an interview with author Steve Mazey also known as I.E. Lester and Edmund Lester. Under the latter name Steve has written The Intersection which you can read our review of here and A Parallel Life which you can read our review here.
1. Can you introduce yourself? A little about your background.
I’m a lifelong geek – I admit it. I started reading science fiction and horror (not sure which came first) when I was nine and have never looked back. Over the following four decades I’ve built up a collection of more than sixteen thousand books, a little over half genre fiction, the rest a smattering of other fiction and non-fiction and reference titles covering pretty much every topic you could imagine. I cover the full set of the Dewey Decimal classes.
My passion for science fiction and horror is not restricted to the printed word. Since first watching Halloween (still my favourite horror movie) I’ve seen more horror movies than I could remember and I’m an addict of good genre TV.
As for my writer self I will have to admit to being a late bloomer. Until my early forties my only forays into writing was as a book and movie reviewer for various websites and magazines but after one too many claims of “I’d have written that better than they did,” my wife told me to actually do it. So I gave it a go.
It took a few months but once I’d sold my first story, a short-short horror, I began selling short stories and articles, totalling up about eighty sales before taking a break – I ran a business selling comics and science fiction/horror memorabilia and toys for a while (I did mention the geek part) and time was something I was desperately short of.
Having sold my company I returned to writing, only focused on longer forms this time, novellas now being the shortest length. In 2017 I sold my first novel, a ya horror novel called the Stairs Lead Down, which came out on Halloween that year from UK small press Writer’s Sanctum Publishing as by I.E. Lester, the pen name I use for ya fiction.
In July this year they also published two linked (to each other, not to the ya novel) dark surreal novellas, the Intersection and a Parallel Life, featuring an everyman character that the universe likes to torment called Ben Williamson. And ANNOUNCEMENT TIME – they will also be publishing another novella of mine next year, a Gothic Horror this time called Alabaster, set in an unidentified city in an early Victorian era amidst an outbreak of plague.
Other than that what can I say – here’s a few basic facts:
– I’m tall (very tall – over two metres tall)
– I’m married, to another sf/horror fanatic (handy)
– I’m older than I’d like to be, having passed fifty
– I’m also a music fanatic, particularly when it comes to prog rock and prog metal
– I collect things
2. Why Edmund Lester?
When I was a kid and first getting into science fiction and horror there were three authors whose books I loved. They were Isaac Asimov, Edmund Cooper and Lester del Rey. When I needed a pseudonym I combined their first three names and came up with I.E. Lester. When I then realised I was writing some stories that would suit younger reader I wanted to do an Iain (M.) Banks kind of thing to differentiate and so left I.E. for young adult works, and opted for Edmund Lester for adult fiction.
3. What or who inspired you to write?
In addition to the three above there are many, many others. Here’s a brief list
– Stephen King
– Michael Moorcock
– Graham Masterton
– James Herbert
– Magnus Mills
– Zoran Živković
– Max Barry
– Robert Charles Wilson
I could list dozens. There are so many writers I’ve enjoyed over the years for so many different reasons. And of course then there are whoever the writers were of all those terrible horror movies I watched and took the piss out of for years before being instructed to put my money where my mouth was and try writing. In some ways thy are probably the most obvious picks for inspiration. If they’d written better stories then I wouldn’t have complained, wouldn’t have been challenged because of the complaining, and so might never have tried writing. I thank them all. Even if they resulted in many individual hours of my life I will never get back.
4. Where did the idea for The Intersection come from? It feels like a location that might have actually existed!
The setting for it is very real. I have a fondness for Actuality films and have watched many of them over the years. For anyone who doesn’t know what they are, they relate to the very first years of moving pictures. The very nature of a moving image was such a novelty to people at the start of the 20th Century just showing such a film was enough to result in a paying audience. So early filmmakers would simply set up a camera at a busy roadside or park and film whatever happened in front of the lens – no story, just images. People would then pay – often to see themselves.
One of these actuality films I saw featured an intersection just like the one described in the story and the story then just popped into my head.
5. How about A Parallel Life? Have you ever come across someone who could be your twin?
I haven’t I’m afraid. This is all external influences. Twins are often used in horror stories (the two lead characters in my first novel the Stairs Lead Down are also twins) but they’re often badly, or at least in a very clichéd way. I wanted to do something a little different.
As for the rest of it, some of the parallel nature comes from my own musings of what might have been. As I mentioned I’m as much a music fan as I am a literature fan and at one point in my teens I gave music a try, attempting in order to play bass guitar, lead guitar, and drums. I was spectacularly awful at them all and also lacked a ear for it so I gave up – possibly a little too quickly, never having really committed to it.
But it does leave you with a what might have been question lurking in the back of your brain. So I thought well, maybe the what if part could be played out so one person could see what their life might have been. And so a Parallel Life was born. And then of course it turned dark in a hurry because that’s how my head works.
6. The Intersection and A Parallel Life are clearly linked in that it shares characters, namely Ben. Why?
There’s not one easy reason for this, more a number of factors that kind of came together. One obvious one is a lot of Ben Williamson is modelled on me – although with some of the more non-average factors removed – Ben is average height for instance. So he’s easy to write and, obviously, I’m going to quite like him. Although I’m not sure what the fact that I seem to torture him in both stories says about me.
Perhaps a second reason is my liking for Michael Moorcock’s stories. He has the concept of the Eternal Champion, a hero existing in multiple universes across Moorcock’s multiverse. His characters are all different, but fundamentally the same in some kind of meta way. I’m not that cosmic in my outlook so I just had the same ordinary boring guy in mind, just affected by different worlds.
But I suppose the most obvious reason is another story idea came to me that fitted the character so I brought him back. Since then it’s only gotten worse too. I’ve written a further four novellas featuring Ben and outlined another eight. I’m hoping he becomes popular enough that the publisher will want more because I can definitely maintain a supply.
7. What other stories do you have for interested readers to enjoy?
I have the young adult novel I mentioned before, the Stairs Lead Down, a ghost story set in Ashby de la Zouch featuring twin 14 year olds. And I have had a light-hearted, hopefully comedic, short story published in an anthology called MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigation (check it out here). My story features a crime scene clean-up crew after a demon attack.
I have the Gothic Horror novella, Alabaster coming out next year, although I don’t know the date as yet, and I will be finishing the sequel to the ya novel, which has the title Breath of Imagined Dead, so hopefully that will be being published next year also.
8. What gets you up in the morning?
Well unusually for a writer it’s not coffee. I can’t stand the stuff.
I could say the trite answer, certainly when it comes to weekdays, of the mortgage. I have to get into the office to earn a living, my books sadly don’t achieve that for me – I’m well short of Stephen King territory there. But I think the most interesting answer is what stops me getting up in the morning or what keeps me awake late at night. And the answer there is books. When I have the time I like nothing more than getting lost in a good book, one that makes me just keep reading when the more sensible option would be to put the book down and get on with life. That kind of book, or rather the hope that I’ll find the next one of that kind, is what keeps me reading.
You just can’t do better than a good book. And maybe one day someone will think that of something I have written. It’s good to dream.
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