Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the
Martin and Teresa are the nomads, battle-hardened people who lack identity and are forever road-bound on an endless mission to guard the sacrifice. Their only direction is from notes left from a mysterious person called the Messenger. Endowed with a strange telekinetic power, the nomads will use everything at their disposal to make it through the night alive.
But matters have become even more complicated this year. Teresa has quickly lost ground battling cancer, while Martin has spiraled into a panic over being left alone. His mind may no longer be on the fight when it matters most… because ever on their heels is the insidious physical representation of a united church: Chaplain Cloth.
What book are you reading now?
What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?
They’ve always supported me. Growing up, my parents were kind enough to let me use their typewriter, then their word processor, then home PC. They always knew I wanted to write novels and never tried to talk me into something else. My wife also has been there for me. She’s sacrificed to let me go to writing conventions, while leaving her behind with our daughter and all the responsibilities thereof. I’m very lucky to have the family I do.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Absolutely. I know of some anecdotal instances when a certain writer can shoot off a draft and there’s no real cause for an edit, but that’s freakish. I would paraphrase what the very funny and powerfully excellent writer Jeff Stand once said to me, “I want as much help as I can get to save myself any future embarrassments.” A different set of eyes is crucial in providing feedback about how a piece is interpreted. Here you have sweated, bled, cried, maybe even sought chemical and/or emotional therapy from all the agony of creation, and it has come down letting somebody else sit in the vehicle you built. You’ve obsessed this far about how the story is TOLD, but until you have another reader’s response you’ll never know how the story is READ. It’s like singing. You can wail out a high note and in the moment think it’s terrible, only to later listen to the recording and say, “Wow, that’s not half bad.” And vice versa, of course.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
To me it’s different from book to book, but I’m always surprised how some stories come together quickly and neatly, while others fight, struggle and claw into existence.
How do you describe your writing style?
I approach style like a chameleon. If the story calls for a florid, verbose form of prose, that’s what I want to do. If the story is a straight forward action driven piece, I tend to focus on word economy. I think its hilarious how some folks, readers and writers both, believe there’s a correct style or an incorrect style. Turns out, there’s not; it’s just what they prefer reading.
In the end, it’s all about what works best. Consider an action-driven “pager-turner” coming in at over a thousand pages. Not to pigeonhole anyone, but most of my friends who diet heavily on action movies think two hours makes for a lengthy film. So maybe a nice, brisk novel is better suited for the action genre. You can disagree and try to bring all the skeptical short attention spans along with you, but that might be an uphill battle there. How about writing an epic fantasy as a minimalist novella? Can it be done? Sure. But should it be done is a better question. I just try to choose the most appropriate style per story.
What do you think makes a good story?
There are some who have an immediately accessible answer for this, just as they do for style choice. A reader should consider what a story sets out to do and judge it on those merits. It drives me nuts when I see internet reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere slamming a certain book for asinine reasons. You can tell they desire to hear their critical voice come out more than approaching a fitting critique.
These types follow the classic literature guidelines for everything they read. And I say this, hey, if you’re going to read an expanded universe Star Wars novel, don’t expect greatness—expect lightsabers and lots of them. If you find greatness in an unexpected place, that’s a bonus, not an imperative. I try to understand what I’m getting into with some genre pieces. I’ve actually read a review once that stated an extreme horror novel was too gory and disturbing. That got me scratching my head because the only way an extreme horror novel can fail is if it isn’t gory or disturbing enough.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading DEMON by Erik Williams and enjoying its fast paced, military-horror action. Williams has thriller-novelist written all up and down him, and I expect to see his books in many paws not before too long. I’m also reading the short story collection WONDROUS STRANGE by Robin Spriggs. It is, in a word, amazing. Beautiful prose, creepy-disturbing-insane-wicked stories. Spriggs really has become one of my favorites in the past year. I do hope he does a novella or even a novel in the Dark Fantasy genre. That will get me jumping up and down in a hurry.
What is your favorite meal?
I’m so simple-stomached. Spicy chicken burrito meal from Del Taco. If it feels wrong, it has to be right.
What group did you hang out with in high school?
The death metal crowd primarily, but we also included some outliers from the jock group, the computer nerd group, and the indie rock group. We were pretty accepting of anybody, just as long as you allowed us to make fun of you nonstop.
Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s fiction has appeared in Doorways Magazine, Dark Recesses, FearZone, and others. His dark fantasy novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010) has won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel.
Beyond that he’s written several collaborations with Michael Louis Calvillo, one of which is a novella called UGLY SPIRIT, available in 2011. He also wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film.” Available in an ivory tower near you.
Benjamin lives in
Southern California with his wife and daughter, both lovely and both worthy of better. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, he’s defending ’s waterways and sewers from pollution. California
You can visit his website at BKEthridge.com
Say hi and drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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