In this post, we will get to know Aaron Lebold. An amazing author of psychological horror, sometimes dabbling in extreme elements. His love of the genre began at an early age with all the best slasher films. Writing has always been something of interest but he didn’t make any serious attempts at it until 2017. Since that time he has completed several novels and novellas. His short stories can be found in various anthologies by various publishers. Some of his short stories have been narrated for the Cryo-Pod Podcast. His novel “Born Sick” took second place at the Godless 666 awards for best novel of 2022. He will be releasing more work with Gloom House Publishing and D&T Publishing in the later part of 2023. Ready to know more?
Thanks Aaron for joining us today. I'd like to begin with your love for the horror genre began at an early age with slasher films. How did these films influence your interest in writing, and what drew you specifically to psychological horror and exploring extreme elements within the genre?
I always loved writing but didn’t really consider it as an interest until later in life. I think these films ended up influencing me in a lot of ways. The slasher element brings a bit of shock value and films like Nightmare on Elm Street added a sense of humor to the whole thing. The biggest element of these films for me is that they created a likeminded community. When I first started writing I wasn’t really doing horror but I struggled to find my place. The one thing I knew for sure was that horror people were the people I fit in with.
You said that you've started your serious writing journeying 2017 and you have completed several novels and novellas. Could you share some insights into your creative process? How do you approach developing your ideas and crafting your stories, especially considering the dark and thought-provoking elements you strive to incorporate?
Typically I just have a random idea come to me and I build off that. I like to spend a lot of time alone and often I think about story ideas. Once I get enough of an idea that I start to get excited about it I put it on the list of books I want to write. I like to add thought-provoking elements because there are a lot of writers out there trying to do the same thing. I don’t want to write purely for entertainment, I would like my work to have a more meaningful impact on the reader.
Interesting. That's what Transgressive Writing is all about. May I know about your short stories that have been featured in various anthologies and narrated for the Cryo-Pod Podcast? How does the shorter format of short stories differ from longer narratives in terms of storytelling and impact? Do you find yourself experimenting with different themes or techniques when writing short stories?
Yes. I often like to have a theme presented to me and challenge myself to come up with something for it. A lot of anthologies look for specific topics and I enjoy the challenge. Short stories typically only take me a day to write once I settle on a concept. It’s basically the same idea as writing a novel but done in a way that doesn’t elaborate into a more complex story. They are a lot of fun to write and I find that they help get your name out there to readers.
By the way, I would like to congratulate you on "Born Sick" for taking second place at the Godless 666 awards for best novel of 2022! Can you provide us with a glimpse into the world and themes of this acclaimed novel? What motivated you to explore the subject matter within its pages?
Thank you. With this novel I wanted to try and play around with timeline. It goes back and forth between two periods that eventually intersect. For me, writing is about trying new things and finding out what works for you. As far as the plot, when I decided I was going to focus more on horror I wanted to go all in. It basically started with the idea that something that scares people is the idea that people they trust are not what they seem. Doctors fall in to that category so I just pushed the idea as far as I could.
It's exciting to hear that you will be releasing more work with Gloom House Publishing and D&T Publishing in 2023. Can you give us any hints or details about these upcoming projects? Are there any particular themes or ideas you're eager to explore in these works?
With Gloom House we are still discussing which book to release, so I’m not sure yet. The one that is coming out with D&T was another one that I wrote to try something new. I was never very interested in ghost stories but when I heard about a place in California called Pacheco Pass I felt compelled to make something for the setting. I like my books to be grounded in reality but also wanted to incorporate a supernatural element to this one. It was fun to write.
You mentioned being a youth worker and an addictions counselor, dedicating your life to helping others overcome the path of drugs and alcohol. How has your professional background and experiences influenced your writing? Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from your work with young people and the challenges they face?
The first book I ever wrote wasn’t horror. It still hasn’t been published but it was all about addiction. I was definitely inspired by my work for that one. Sometimes I’ll use people’s names for characters but I’ve never used any of their actual stories. I would say it has had an influence though. In my line of work a lot of empathy is required. You need to be able to see things from someone else’s point of view and really understand it if you’re going to be able to help them. You need to do this if you agree with them or not. I use this skill to create characters.
In addition to your writing, you also have a background in music, composing lyrics for songs that aim to inspire and evoke emotions. How does your experience in music intersect with your writing? Do you find any similarities or crossovers between the two creative outlets?
The music thing really made me see where I actually belong. I tried to make music for a lot of years but I was never any good at it. I couldn’t sing and during the whole process I never had any interest in learning anything about notes, timing, anything really. Once I started writing I was very much interested in learning about things like formatting, publishing, grammar, sentence structure, etc. The only thing about the music I made that I’m not embarrassed by are the lyrics. Hindsight makes sense. I never wanted to be a musician, I wanted to express myself. I received messages through music as I grew up so I gravitated towards the same thing to send my message. Since I’ve started writing I’ve found a way to do the same thing that I’m actually good at and interested in.
Your journey about returning to school to become an addictions counselor and dedicating yourself to a life of sobriety shows great personal growth and determination is inspiring. How has this journey impacted your writing style and the themes you explore in your stories? Do you find yourself drawing from your own experiences or using storytelling as a means of processing and reflecting on your past?
Absolutely. This is where I try to be thought-provoking. Recovery isn’t just about getting off drugs, it’s a new way to think and a new way to live. I try to incorporate that into my work. I also have a lot of drug use in my work, which I am familiar with from my time as an addict.
As a writer of dark and thought-provoking stories, how do you balance the desire to engage readers with challenging content while also ensuring that the narratives provide valuable insights or messages? Are there any particular themes or topics that you feel strongly about exploring through your work?
I’m still figuring out my balance with this. I basically use extremes. For example; the concept of anger and the damage it can do are the same if you yell at someone or cut their head off. Decapitation is a louder statement than raising your voice but it all comes from the same place. I try to look at everyday emotions and amplify them in a way that they are hard to ignore.
Finally, as you continue to pursue your passion for writing and challenge yourself creatively, what are your aspirations for the future? Are there any specific goals or projects you hope to accomplish in the coming years?
My hope is to just keep getting my work out there, and keep getting better. I want every book I wrote to feel to me like it’s the best I’ve ever written. The indie horror community is amazing and I’ve had a lot of support from other writers. I only started writing novellas this year and that was because they seem to be popular among readers. I want to keep pushing myself and I guess I’ll just see where that takes me.
Thanks Aaron for joining us today. If you would like to know more about Aaron you can check out the following links and if you would like to send a quick message to him, comment below.