I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing friend, writer, and all around good guy, Ben Eads, about his new book CRACKED SKY. If you take any two things away from this interview, they should be as follows:
- Buy Ben’s book.
- If there were such a thing as interviewer school, and I attended–I’d fail.
AR: Tell everyone a little bit about who you are and what kind of fiction you write.
BE: I’m a horror writer by heart. I wrote my first horror story when I was ten. However, my mother told me I was “writing” when I was only two-years-old. It was more like crayon squiggles, but the compulsion was there from the start. I saw my first horror flick when I was four—it was John Carpenter’s Halloween. It scared the shit out of me. Ha! I was always writing short horror stories, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. I doubted my abilities.
However, that changed in 2008, after I was laid off. The compulsion was stronger than ever. I’ve dabbled in dark S/F and infused dark fantastical elements in my fiction as well. I blame Lovecraft, Barker, Philip K. Dick, and J.G. Ballard for that. Other than that? I love studying martial arts, philosophy and Information Technology. I’m a curious cat. I want to know the secrets of the universe and all that jazz. I strongly feel there’s something more to life than what we see. I’m still on that journey.
AR: I first read a draft of CRACKED SKY for critique just about 2 years ago. Tell us about the journey from conception to completion of CRACKED SKY and how the novella has changed since I first read it.
BE: Thank you so much for your insight and help! You’re one of my top beta-readers, and CRACKED SKY wouldn’t be as powerful without your help. It began as a “movie-trailer” in my head: Reeling from the loss of their only child, Stephen and Shelley Morrison learn that her killer has been found dead. What they don’t know is that his agenda goes far deeper than the grave. Beyond the storm, beyond the crack in the sky—where their daughter is trapped with The Lost Ones—something is using Stephen and Shelley’s agony to fulfill its goals: Terrorize. Consume. Destroy.
I knew it was filled with emotions and a darkness that took a lot of courage to write about. With the help of beta-readers like yourself, it took a good six months to get the novella in shape for submission. It went through many drafts, to say the least. I’m a perfectionist; I wanted to make sure I covered everything. Once Omnium Gatherum was open to submissions, I submitted it and the rest is history. The owner, Kate Jonez is a hell of a writer and a pillar in the horror community. And I found her editing skills were just as powerful once I started working with her. I owe a lot to Kate. She really held my feet to the fire on this one. To write is human, to edit is divine. Kate was divine.
AR: Writing about loss can be an incredibly difficult process. How did you summon the proper emotions and get into that head-space for the novella?
BE: Although I’m single, and don’t have any children of my own, the closest I could relate to these characters was the loss I felt after losing my job, and both my house and car. After the first draft, a dear friend committed suicide. These were my anchors; the closest I could come.
I did a lot of research as well. I wanted this to be as realistic as possible, and it became quite depressing at times. It took a lot of courage to go there. However, Darrell—the villain—provided the darkest head-space I’ve ever been in. Sadly, books and film have one-dimensional villains. It’s as if they just walk up with a “Bad Guy” badge. I really wanted to sympathize with this monster, and have my reader’s sympathize with him as well, to a certain degree.
I’m pleased to say the advance praise it has received and the reviews it’s getting made all the pain worthwhile. Throughout the writing process, my mantra came from a quote from Stephen King’s book, On Writing: “Do not come to the blank page lightly.”
AR: What have you learned as a submissions editor for Crystal Lake Publishing and a judge for their writing contest?
BE: A lot! Helping judge the entries for the Tales From The Lake Volume: 2 anthology was an absolute blast! It reinforced the obvious: What makes a good short horror story; what a short horror story should achieve; what elements make all of this up? I could go on. Ha!
Reading submissions, I would find a few novellas or novels with the same premise. It showed me just how hard it is coming up with a unique concept, and to strive for that. And, of course, the most common: Authors not following submission guidelines! Once you work for or help out a press that is only publishing the best of the very best, you really get a firm grasp of what is good horror fiction. I would strongly advise aspiring writers to either help out or work for a press in the genre they wish to write in. Trust me, it will save you years of rejections, to say the least.
AR: I hear you are conducting some giveaways. Tell us about how we can enter.
BE: Thanks for asking! I have some great giveaways going on now. If you go to my website www.beneadsfiction.com and subscribe to the CRACKED SKY Newsletter, you’ll have a chance to win issues of, Shroud Magazine that contain some of my short horror fiction, as well as free copies of my novella CRACKED SKY. I’m also upping the ante with signed numbered limited edition books by some legends in the horror genre. Stay tuned!
AR: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about your new novella. And as for me, it’s off to interviewer school.