A radio host speaks on air with a serial killer. An elevator serves as a gate to an alternate reality. A man walks into customs at the airport with credentials from a non-existent country.
These stories come from the mind of Webster alumnus Bryan Alaspa, class of 1993.
Alaspa is a freelance horror and thriller author who has published about 30 books and even more short stories. Or, as his wife Melanie Parker puts it, “he is a mere mortal with a very active imagination in real life.”
Alaspa writes fiction and nonfiction stories in a variety of genres: true crime, detective, history, mystery and supernatural. At heart, he still considers himself a horror and thriller author who will not change himself to fit the mainstream market’s tastes.
“My brain just turns towards stuff that tends to be violent or disturbing in some way, or scary,” Alaspa said.
Alaspa said his choice of genre is not because he is a thrillseeker himself.
“You will never catch me skydiving. I don’t drive my car super fast. I don’t even like roller coasters,” Alaspa said.
Instead, Alaspa said he uses writing as an outlet for his own negativities.
“I have the same fear that everybody else does, and I just channel that energy into my writings,” Alaspa said. “It cleanses me out of those negative feelings and makes me a happier person.”
Parker said she can see a striking difference between her husband and the subjects he chooses to write about.
“While he loves writing about true crime, he is honest and sincere,” Parker said. “He is not motivated by greed. So people who are inherently bad fascinate him.”
For Alaspa, his interest for horror stories and thrillers came to him fairly early, and writing has been his “first true love” since he wrote his very first story on his mother’s electric typewriter in third grade. Ever since then, Alaspa said he would tell people he wanted to be a writer.
“I just sat down one day and started typing out this short story that is probably the worst story I’ve written,” Alaspa said. “I am pretty sure it had no punctuation and it was one big long paragraph. I didn’t know how to separate a paragraph then, but it was so much fun.”
Alaspa said when he was in third grade, he was obsessed with sharks and the movie Jaws. His first story was therefore about a shark eating people.
Alaspa said he was grateful to many people who influenced him. His mom read children’s books to him at night and he was fascinated by his father’s book collection.
Alaspa credits his composition teacher from high school for helping him learn how to compose the story, saying she “saw through the nonsense I was putting out there.”
Coming to Webster in 1989 was his first time away from home in Chicago. The freedom in curriculum gave him opportunities to learn writing in different styles, from journalistic to creative.
“I really loved my time [at Webster],” Alaspa said. “Every fall, I get a little nostalgic. I wish I were 18 years old again.”
Alaspa currently works for an international company as a full-time online content specialist. He resisted the position at first because all he wanted to do was to write his own books, but he realized it was better not to rely solely on that career.
“I basically blog for a living now,” Alaspa said. “I pay the bills with my day job which also involves writing.”
Alaspa now uses his spare time to write his own books. He constantly works on a project whether writing a new story or making edits to an old one. He insists on writing at least a thousand words a day. He gets up early and goes to the office early to write before his day job.
Alaspa relies on Parker for the final review on his books. As a technical writer who writes software and hardware guides, Parker’s concise style of writing is of great help to Alaspa. She makes sure Alaspa’s story is consistent throughout.
Parker also makes sure Alaspa’s writing has no unnecessary details — she jokes that he “writes about what people eat way too much.”
Alaspa thought it would be “remarkable” to see one of his works adapted into film.
Inspired by Stephen King’s “Dollar Baby” program, Alaspa decided to take the idea a step further and offer his stories to Webster students for free.
The “Dollar Baby” refers to an offer King made when he granted students permission to adapt one of his short stories for just one dollar.
Alaspa said although he offers his stories for free, he does ask for a digital copy of the final product and his name in it for credit.
Alaspa said two of his stories would be a good fit for college students to adapt, because they are fairly easy and cheap to produce. One is a short story called VU that takes place entirely in a radio station and is about a conversation between a talk show host and a serial killer. The other one is The Elevator Game, about the elevator with a gate to another dimension.
Alaspa has no problem with people making changes to his ideas, but hopes that the adapted versions keep the horrific feeling from the original story.
“Just reach out to me and I will simply say it’s all yours,” Alaspa said. “[The film] is basically for me to show off. Or maybe the film enters into a festival, I would love to be invited to the ceremony and watch it on the big screen.”
For information about Alaspa’s works and contact information, visit www.bryanwalaspa.com.