Every month we feature a different author, publisher or bookseller who has earned the RLK! seal of approval! We will highlight and review their books/company as well as providing author biographies (where available) and publishing information. We hope you enjoy RLK! Spotlight On....

Publisher Bio:

Leisure books is the publisher that finally brought Richard Laymon to the American public. Most of us know of Leisure Books for this reason, but there's much much more to Leisure and their Horror range. We spoke with Leisure Horror Editor, Don D'Auria about Leisure, their writers, the past and the future. We hope you enjoy the interview!:

Richard Laymon Kills!: Hi Don, Thanks for your time. Leisure Books came to our attention when you picked up Richard Laymon to publish in the US. Tell us some of the history of Leisure.

Don D'Auria: Leisure has been publishing books since the 1970s, and in fact we're the oldest independently owned mass-market publisher in the US. About five years ago the company changed hands and along with new owners came almost an entirely new staff (including myself) and certainly a new outlook on publishing. Among other things, we looked closely at the horror line, which had been largely lying fallow, and decided the time was right to change its direction, to publish more "grown-up" horror, and to take it all more seriously. Since then, we've been able to publish some fantastic books by wonderful authors. Richard is a prime example, of course. The response to the new horror line was terrific and fairly immediate, so we've been gradually expanding it and began some exciting new projects, like the Horror Book Club.

RLK!: What events led up to you taking Richard on board?

DD'A: I think you could trace it all back to a conversation with Ed Gorman two years or so ago. Ed and I were discussing how great Richard's work is, and what a shame it was that you couldn't find it in the States. I'd heard for a long time about Richard's feelings toward US publishers and pretty much resigned myself to looking for import editions. Ed was the first person to suggest that Richard might be willing to work with Leisure, since we had the right attitude and were able to give authors and books the attention they deserve. That started me thinking and hoping. Everything kicked into a higher gear, though, when I actually first met Richard at a World Horror Convention in Phoenix. Aside from being a personal thrill for me, that meeting led to what I sincerely hope will be a very long term relationship between Richard and Leisure. I tried to convince Richard that not all US publishers were the same, that we would get behind his work and respect it and him. I think we've both been pleased with the results.

RLK!: The weeks leading up to the release of BITE in the US must have been frantic, tell us about it.

DD'A: They were frantic, but very exciting. The release of BITE was an event. This book meant a lot to all of us, so we wanted to make sure everything went well. People had heard about the book in advance, of course, so a lot of them were eager to see the first copies. Richard was scheduled to be at the HWA Soker weekend in Los Angeles and had set up a signing the weekend the book was shipping, so we had to make sure he had copies when he got there. Really, this was the book's American debut. But from the start the buzz on the book was fantastic. Almost as soon as the contracts were signed word got out and people started asking about it. It was like a collective, universal sigh of relief among the fans: Finally Richard Laymon was back in the States. That put a lot of pressure on us to not blow it. So we kept close tabs on all the aspects of it to make sure it all worked well.

RLK!: Tell us about the feedback you've received since the book was published.

DD'A: It's been great and very gratifying. Most important is that Richard himself is pleased. He likes the cover, the packaging, and the way we've been able to promote the book. We tried to work with him along the line to make sure he was happy with what we were doing, and I think he is. Within the horror community virtually all of the feedback has been along the lines of what we expected, a welcoming home with open arms. And in the marketplace in general, sales have been even better than we hoped.

RLK!: What do you think of Richard's writing and his books?

DD'A: It's hard to pin down exactly why I'm such of fan of Richard's work, but from the first I was just completely hooked. There was a shock of recognition, as if I could completely identify with his characters. Add to this an extremely suspenseful, natural style and a very nasty imagination, and you have work that hits readers on a very personal level. I get the feeling as I read Richard's work that, if only I were incredibly talented, this is the kind of horror I'd want to write. He makes it seem easy, which is amazingly deceptive and a sure sign of very hard work.

RLK!: What do you think of him as a person?

DD'A: I'm not the first to say it, but he has to be one of the nicest guys around. He's so friendly and unassuming, easy-going and very, very funny. And he clearly adores his family. If there is a dark side to him, he must get it all out of his system in his writing, because I've never seen it.

RLK!: Now, let's turn the Spotlight onto you. What is your background and how did you become the horror editor at Leisure?

DD'A: I've been in publishing, in one capacity or another, for about fourteen years. I started out as a sales rep for three years, then made the jump over to editorial, where I really wanted to be, and I've been there ever since. I've worked in many different genres, including horror, technothrillers, westerns and romances, but I've always been a fiction type of guy. And there's always been a special place in my heart for horror. Those were the books I loved since I was a kid. So when the chance came to combine books I love with a job I love, I jumped at it.

RLK!: Take us through a normal day for you at work.

DD'A: I don't know if there is a normal day. I do so many different things on different days. That's one of the things I like about the job, the huge variety. There are so many different aspects to editing that I always have something different to do. One thing that I certainly do a lot of every day is reading. Whether it's reading submissions or editing manuscripts that are already scheduled, I spend a lot of the day with my nose buried in manuscripts. There are a lot of worse ways to make a living than spending your day reading horror.

RLK!: What job would you be doing if you weren't an editor at Leisure?

DD'A: I'd probably be an editor somewhere else. I can't really imagine what else I would enjoy doing. But if I were somewhere else, I'd probably complain more.

RLK!: Leisure sure has a terrific range of horror titles. Everyone at Leisure should be congratulated on your stable of writers.

DD'A: Thank you. We really have tried to get a wide spectrum of authors and styles. It's been a conscious attempt to have some variety. I know I don't like just one type of book or writer, so we've tried to publish books that will appeal to horror fans' different tastes.

RLK!: Who else is on your lists? And tell us about them.

DD'A: We've been very lucky to be able to publish some of the best horror writers out there. Many of them will need no introduction to horror fans. Graham Masterton, Douglas Clegg, Ed Gorman, J.N. Williamson, Elizabeth Massie, Melanie Tem, and John Shirley are all very established authors with strong followings, and we're proud to have books coming from all of them. But we've also made a conscious effort to spotlight newer writers who are up and coming. We were very successful with Mary Ann Mitchell and Barry Hoffman, both of whose debut novels were nominated for Stoker Awards. Mary Ann won an International Horror Guild Award for her debut, Drawn to the Grave. Tom Piccirilli broke out into a much wider audience with Hexes, and wait until you see his next, The Deceased. Right now, I'm very excited to be able to introduce Simon Clark to American readers in May of 2000. He's absolutely brilliant and very popular in Britain, and American horror fans should go crazy for him. In October of 2000 we'll be publishing the book that no other mass market house dared to touch, Robert Devereaux's incredible Santa Steps Out. And in very early 2001 we'll introduce readers to Jemiah Jefferson, a young American author with a fantastic new voice. Keep your eyes open for her. And there are some more surprises coming.

RLK!: The covers on your books are some of the best I've seen. What are the steps that make up each cover?

DD'A: We take a lot of care with our covers. We want to avoid the lurid, exploitative covers that typified horror paperbacks in the 1980's. No more skulls and dripping fangs for us. We want these books to look like the quality work they are, something to be taken seriously. The whole process begins with a discussion between me, the art director and the head of our production department. We discuss the look we're going for, the type of book it is, the setting, the central image, etc. Whenever possible, if the author has opinions or ideas they're incorporated as well. Richard, for example, was involved a great deal in the cover of Bite. I got his feedback all along the way. We want our books to be something the author can be proud of.

RLK!: You also have a horror book-of-the-month-club. This is terrific! Tell me more about it.

DD'A: We came up with the Leisure Horror Book Club as a way for readers to be sure to get each of books and save money at the same time. Basically, it's a subscription service. Every other month, members receive our three newest titles, direct to their house, at a discount, and without postage and handling charges. And since every shipment has a ten-day examination period, members have no risk. We've been thrilled with the response the club has gotten. It's taken off much faster than we'd hoped, and it just keeps growing.

RLK!: Who do you like to read when you're not at work?

DD'A: Not too surprisingly, I read a lot of horror, even when I'm not working. I love King, Straub, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Poppy Brite, Jack Ketchum, Ray Garton, Stephen Laws, Charles Grant, T. M. Wright, Lucy Taylor, Lord Dunsany, and so many others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. But I do read non-horror too. Right now I'm finishing a Dickens novel.

RLK!: RLK! Has been around for almost three years now, what do you think of the site?

DD'A: It's terrific. It's incredibly informative, up-to-date, and entertaining, all at the same time. That's really what a web site ought to be. And you can tell the sort of response it's gotten from Laymon fans around the world; they love it. It's definitely the best place to go for the latest news, often straight from Richard, himself. I have it bookmarked on my computer and I check it all the time.

RLK!: We're delighted to enter into a partnership with you guys with our new SCREAMS OF LEISURE page, featuring your latest release and upcoming release books. What do you think of the page?

DD'A: Beautiful! I'm very impressed at how graphically gorgeous it is, but still loaded with information and news. Everyone at Leisure is very proud and thrilled with the job you've done. You've already had a lot of news about us before anyone else, and we'll keep it coming.

RLK!: Many of our readers are budding-writers. Do you have any suggestions for people who want to break into the horror genre?

DD'A: Obviously, the first piece of advice is to keep writing. You can't break in anywhere if you give up. And keep writing what you love. Chances are, if you're writing horror it's because you love it, and hopefully that love will come though in your work. Don't let people discourage you or tell you to get out of horror. Actually, this is a good time to break into horror. The small presses are putting out some terrific stuff, the internet community is very active, and even larger houses are starting to hop back on board the horror train, at least in the US. Keep writing, keep trying to get published, especially in small presses or magazines first. Then, as you build a reputation, try making the move to larger houses.

RLK!: Tell us about some of the upcoming releases due in the next few months at Leisure?

DD'A: This month (September) we're publishing the first story collection by Douglas Clegg, The Nightmare Chronicles, including thirteen of his best stories, and that's no small claim. In October, we have a collaboration between Max Allan Collins and his wife, Barbara Collins. It's a very chilling look at baby-boomers and the need for youth, called Regeneration. November is a double-header for us, with Graham Masterton's Prey and Elizabeth Massie's new novel, Welcome Back to the Night. And in December, we have a dark thriller from Robert J. Randisi called The Sixth Phase, and Marc Laidlaw's The 37th Mandala, which is fabulous. So I'd say we're ending the year with a bang.

RLK!: And, of course, there's ONE RAINY NIGHT by Laymon too. How far along the production line are you on that one?

DD'A: We should be seeing the finished cover in a month or so, and as soon as we do, I'll send some off to RLK! so everyone can see it. What I've seen of it so far is very creepy indeed, very moody and evocative. The text itself is ready to be set and we should have bound books ready to go at the beginning of February 2000. I can't wait.

RLK!: I'm sure it will be as great as the BITE release and we certainly look forward to it. Any ideas yet as to which Laymon book will be number 3 for Leisure?

DD'A: After talking it over with Richard, we've decided the next two books will be Among the Missing and Darkness, Tell Us. They're all so good, it's hard to pick. Maybe fans could drop a note to the site to let us know which ones they'd like to see after these. But as long as Richard is willing, and as long as readers keep reading, we hope to keep the Laymon books coming!

RLK!: Don, thanks for your time.



RLK! SCREAMS OF LEISURE COMPETITION!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Leisure Books, RLK! is able to offer 5 lucky winners the choice of 5 books from the Leisure Books range. All you have to do is read the interview above and answer the following three questions:

Question 1:
Which American author did Don speak with two years ago about Richard Laymon's work?

Question 2:
In October 2000, Leisure will publish a novel by Robert Devereaux. What is the title of that novel?

Question 3:
Right now, Don is finishing reading a novel by who?

If you think you have the answers email them to us at gerlach@ains.net.au and you'll go into the draw to be one of those lucky five winners. The five winners can choose any five books from the ten shown below:

        


        



Good luck! Thanks again to the great folks at Leisure Books! Winners will be announced September 30.


Books Published:

RATING:

Publisher: Leisure Books

Review Source:

HUNGRY EYES by Barry Hoffman

At the age of 10, Renee was kidnapped for 6 days. She was taken to a cabin in the woods, stripped naked, and held in a cell with only a blanket and a bucket. During those six days she was tortured and abused by a person with cold, evil, hungry eyes.

But then she was let go.

Edward Costanzo, a neighbour, is charged with the crime and he goes to prison for it, but never says anything about the events that happened in the cabin. Renee won't talk either, except to one up-and-coming-reporter, Deidre, whose career is about to skyrocket due to the exclusive Renee is about to give her.

With the kidnapper in jail and Deidre's career on the rise, Renee is placed with Foster parents to give her the safe, stable life she's been wishing for. Finally, everything is starting to come together for Renee.

But then, for seemingly no reason, she commits suicide by jumping into the Schuylkill River...

Fast forward 13 years.

Deidre is now working as the media liaison for the Mayor and life is looking good. She's placed on a police task force trying to find a serial killer, the Vigilante, who is killing child molesters and deviants who have escaped jail terms. Deidre is to be the buffer between the police and the media. The public and the Mayor want the case solved, pronto.

And, scrawled on a wall near the latest victim are the words:

"NO MORE HUNGRY EYES."

Suddenly, Deidre finds herself in the middle of the hunt for the killer. She remembers the postcard she received from Renee 13 years before. The postcard Renee posted three days after her suicide. "Hungry Eyes" - just like her kidnapper in the cabin.

Is Renee still alive? Did she fake her own death? And, if she did, why have the killings started 13 years later? Could Renee possibly be the Vigilante?

The cops won't believe Deidre's theories - the theories don't follow the FBI profile - so Deidre must use her all journalistic skills and intuition to find the murderer before anyone else is killed. But once confronted with the truth, will Deidre have the strength to follow through with her plan?

Hungry Eyes is an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting character study dealing with two women who know more about each other than anyone else, due to a relationship forged by tragic events and inhumanity. Hoffman places the spotlight on human emotions and character traits and you leave the novel feeling that we're all victims in one way or another. The plot is strong and complex, the characters are believable and the imagery is a pure delight.

Powerful, addictive stuff. Buy it now!

(The sequel to Hungry Eyes, EYES OF PREY, has just been released by Leisure Books and will be reviewed here in the upcoming weeks.)




RATING:

Publisher: Leisure Books

Review Source:

DRAWN TO THE GRAVE by Margaret Ann Mitchell

Carl has a problem. He is dying. There's no cure, and he'll be dead in no time.

But then Carl goes on an exploration to the Amazon and learns the secret of prolonging life.

Carl just got lucky.

But, from that day forward, the people who meet Carl and fall in love with him have just entered a death sentence.

Such is the tale of Beverley. Bored with city life and with a new book to write, she heads into the wilderness and rents a house from Carl. Then she falls in love with him. And that's when she starts to get ill.

You see, Carl only needs women long enough to use them up. He needs to know every inch of their bodies, and then he has to draw them. And draw them perfectly. Once he's done that - and a few other Amazonian rituals - they're his for ever.

Slowly the women will decay, dying for him, as he takes their life essence and becomes even healthier.

But Beverley is stronger than the others, she doesn't rot and fall apart as quickly. Confined to her rented house, she sits, warding off the rats who want to feast on her, plotting her revenge on Carl. But Carl needs her to turn to dust as soon as possible, because he's just met Megan - a backpacker travelling through the state - and he knows that sooner or later he's going to need the extra house for her.

Because he's already started the sketches of Megan...

Mary Ann Mitchell has produced an amazing piece of fiction. This horror tale with a dark fantasy edge is a terrific read and you won't be able to put it down. From page one we are drawn in to a miasmic world of sex, impending death and doom which pervades the book. Mitchell's turn of phrase and her knack for strong, believeable characters is one of her many strengths, as is the fast, taught plotting and excellent imagery.

A must for every fan of good horror fiction.

(Mary Ann Mitchell's second book for Leisure - SIPS OF BLOOD - has just been released. This features the return of the Marquis de Sade! It will be reviewed in the next few weeks.)





RATING:

Publisher: Leisure Books

Review Source:

SPREE by J.N. Williamson

Dell is in and out of prison during his teenage years, charging from one crime to another, from one prison cell to the next. With low intelligence and little common sense, all he likes to do is kill.

People have "magic" and Dell needs more of it. By killing others, Del gets their magic from them. It's a simple plan for a simple guy.

Until cell-mate and protector Lloyd B. takes him under his arm and shows him the wonders of The Good Book - no, not the Bible, but a Webster's Dictionary. Soon, Dell learns more and more about words and becomes more educated - more willing to learn about the world and the way it works. But still the magic must be taken from others to make Dell even stronger. He has learnt about the phoenix and wants to rise from the ashes of his life stronger than before. And when he gets out of jail this time, he's going to make sure he can get as much magic as possible.

Kee is a teenager who lives a boring life. Her mother's a religious fanatic and her father is dying of syphillis. Her life couldn't get more dull, but she knows that soon her knight will drive through town and take her away from it all. She's had visions of him and knows he will come one day. All she has to do is wait for him. And, as she waits, she allows the boys of the town to feel her breasts and have a look at things they shouldn't - all for a price of course...

And then, as Dell begins his killing spree across America, he stops one night in sleepy Cherokee Rose and Kee finds her knight waiting for her.

Apart, Dell and Kee are lonely psychos in the sea of life. Together they're a tornado that's going to tear apart anyone in their way.

Even police officer Kirk Douglas (no, not *that* Kirk Douglas...but he does look like him) is way behind the eight-ball on this one. He has no idea where Dell and Kee are headed or where they'll strike next. All he can do is follow the trail of destruction and pick up the pieces of the dead and dying. Unless he gets a lucky break...

Throw out your copies of AMERICAN PSYCHO. Tape over your copy of THELMA & LOUISE.

SPREE by Williamson outdoes them all.

This roller-coaster ride into hell (but not back) will keep all readers on the edge of their seats. Once again, characterisation is the key here, with Dell, Kee and Lloyd B. (and even Kirk Douglas) strong and believable as real people. You feel for them, you wish you could reach out and take hold and shake them and say, "Hey, get a grip here!" But you can't. All you can do is watch and hope for the best.

But the best doesn't come for Dell and Kee - nothing can save them once they start on their bloody journey. No one is going to get in their way. No one is going to survive.

Another classic Williamson terror that will stay with you long after the book has ended.

Top notch!




RATING:

Date of Release: June '99

Publisher: Leisure Books

Review Source:

THE HAUNT by J. N. Williamson

Something haunts the old Kidd home.

But it's not a ghost.

It's a being that's neither alive nor dead, and it's been protecting the Kidds for generations.

No Kidd family members need ever get sick or hurt - the thing in the house will protect them.

Unless they do something to offend it.

Then it really gets mad.

Ray and Jack Kidd are the latest generation to live in their family abode. Both single, and ever vigilant not to offend their protector, they live with the ever present pall of fear and foreboding hanging over them. Their protector prowls the second floor of their home - a place both Kidds fear to tread.

And Ray Kidd is sick of it.

So sick of it he wants to test just how far the "hate-haunt" (as he calls it) will let him stray.

The answer is: not far.

Jack is more introspective, a quiet bachelor without too much of a life. But he has met a girl called Rachel and fallen in love with both her and her kids, Nick and Tricia.

To survive, the "hate-haunt" needs new members of the Kidd family. And because of this, it lets Rachel and the kids into the house. But not without taunting them and scaring them half to death! The hate-haunt needs to have some fun now and then...

Rachel figures the only way to beat the entity is to know more about the thing that lives on the second floor of the ageing building she and her kids call home, so she hires PI Craig Ryce to find out more. Ryce manages to do so, but in the process brings them all to the very edge of danger.

Meanwhile, psychic Andrew Jordan (through his channelled entity, "Eight") is receiving messages that soon the Kidd's will need his help as a matter of life and death. "Eight" has never been wrong before.

Just what or who is the "hate-haunt"? Is it alive or dead? And what does the mysterious great-grandfather, Howell Kidd, have to do with it all?

J.N. Williamson has turned out a spellbinding tale of horror and possession. Very rarely a book comes along with such strong characters and a plot driven by both emotion and action. You'll be scared to turn the next page and the characters will stay with you even after the ending - an ending that will leave you re-evaluating the whole novel. The feeling of damp, dark terror in the house seeps from every page and makes you feel any house could contain a hate-haunt such as this one.

Spellbinding, entrancing and unforgettable.





Websites:

Leisure Books can be found on the internet at http://www.dorchesterpub.com/horror.htm.

Also, be sure to check out the RLK! Leisure page SCREAMS OF LEISURE for the latest on Leisure Books.

Other recently released books by Leisure Books include:

    


        



Where to buy:

Availability:     

For those who order online, try:

Amazon UK!   Buy Laymon & Others Here!   




 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 August: Gerald Seymour, Author Click here to view.
 July: Brian Lumley, Author Click here to view.
 June: Michael Connelly, Author Click here to view.
 May: Stephen Laws, Author Click here to view.
 April: Gemma O'Connor, Author Click here to view.
 March: Simon Clark, Author Click here to view.
 February: Obsidian Books, Publisher Click here to view.
 January: John Case, Author Click here to view.

 A new Feature added monthly so check here often...



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