October Spotlight: Author Joseph D'Lacey Talks Meat, Garbage Man and More!
With his debut novel, Meat, Joseph D'Lacey burst onto the horror scene with a novel that prompted Stephen King to exclaim, "D'Lacey rocks!" We recently got to sit down with Joseph to talk about his career and the return of both Meat and Garbage Man via a brand new publisher.
The first pertinent question for any professional wordsmith is exactly what got them into pursing creative endeavours for a living. For D'Lacey, the love for writing had always been there, but took time to fully blossom.
He mused, "I think I've always had a writer's nature, I suppose, and the thing for me was that I didn't really pursue it until later in life. I was probably around thirty, really, before it got started. I'd always been a diarist, a journalist and written poetry and all those sort of things, but I didn't really turn my hand to fiction until probably when I was thirty, which was quite a while ago now. It's one of my regrets, I suppose, that I didn't get started earlier."
"I was doing more writing. I started off writing children's verse, believe it or not, and had a friend who was illustrating the stuff that I was coming up with. Predictably, we got turned down by every house in the UK – as always – and I kind of packed it in then. But because I'd been writing quite regularly, then I started to think about doing short stories – and the first story I wrote, I sent it out and it was accepted straight off the bat, and I thought well, if I can do that, maybe I can write a chapter or two, and if I can write a chapter or two, then maybe I can write a novel, and that's kind of how it started."
Moving from children's stories to the world of truly disturbing horror seems like a big leap – so how was it that such a drastic change was in store? D'Lacey explained, "I was probably writing adult poetry as well... I started with fantasy and then moved into horror as I started to remember the things that I'd enjoyed reading when I was a youngster. So I went from writing kids' poetry to adult poetry and then to writing fantasy and horror."
On the topic of his debut novel, Meat, we asked for a little background on the journey to getting it onto shelves: "It was the first published novel, yes (laughs). It was actually the sixth novel that I'd written. I'd been at it for a while then, and it had gotten to the point where it was probably going to be the last thing I tried before I packed it in, you know what I mean? If I'd started writing novels in 2000, Meat was my sixth so I'd written one a year and been submitting everywhere and had no success whatsoever, even with the help of an agent at that point. So yeah, Meat was make or break, really."
The content of Meat can be pretty grueling stuff for even the most experienced horror hound with its frank and mechanical depictions of slaughterhouse processes given a particularly grim slant. We wanted to know what kind of effect the research and planning of D'Lacey's story had on him on a personal level. Quite a lot, it would seem – and not just for him: "I'd come to a point where I decided that I was going to write the grimmest horror novel that I could come up with. So that was one very definite motivation, but at the same time I had a lot of thoughts in my head about the ethics of killing for food, and I had thought about that for years just as, you know, sometimes issues that you think about that don't go away and just keep recurring."
" So that was in the back of my mind, and it seemed like if I came up with an idea where humans were farming a lesser form of human for meat, that could have a lot of potential for a story. So I started researching it, just by watching footage of factory farming and slaughter, animal transportation – and it was a life-changing book in lots of ways because not only did I end up being told by lots of readers that they'd become vegetarian as a result, or even vegan, of reading the book, but I too became a vegetarian within a few months of completing the novel. So, yeah (laughs), it's had a big influence, and I suppose the ideas had been brewing for a little while. It's always a collision of things, you know; it's not just one idea. It's usually an idea, and then it'll be perhaps a scene that you've had in your head for a while. The opening scene of Meat, with Shanti running with his pack on his back, started out as an exercise that I did when I was in a writing group. The little things come together and build and, hopefully, become something greater than the sum of its parts."