Name: Ben Eads
Book: Cracked Sky, Omnium Gatherum Books, January 2015
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
BE: Thanks for having me, Fiona! I’m very happy to say that my horror novella Cracked Sky was published January 12 by Omnium Gatherum Books. This one took a lot of courage to write. It goes a little something like this: 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.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
BE: My mother tells me that I was “writing” when I was just a toddler. I would take crayons and just doodle on paper. Once I learned to speak, and my mother would ask what I was doing, I was would say I was telling a story. I wrote my first story when I was ten. I took writing seriously—and by seriously, I mean actually submitting work—in 2008. Why? I didn’t/don’t really have a choice. It’s a compulsion that gives me great pleasure.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
BE: After I wrote my first story. After I would finish riding bikes or playing Nintendo games with my friends, I would tell them I had to help my dad. That was a lie…I was actually writing. At the time, I was too embarrassed as to what they would think or make of it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
BE: When the “movie-trailer” for my horror novella, Cracked Sky played in my mind, it felt like a monkey on my back that wouldn’t go away until I finished writing it. I knew instantly that it had the emotional weight needed, and begged for a bigger canvas than a short story. I put it through a few drafts and then sent it off to my beta-readers who are some of my favorite up-and-coming authors: Patrick Rutigliano, Anthony J. Rapino, Dylan J. Morgan, Lisa Jenkins, Mary Rajjote and Jonathan Winn. Then more drafts. Ha!
Inspiration is a myth. I’ve heard this from a lot of writers who’ve been doing this far longer—and far better—than I for many years. As soon as that myth was dispelled, I found it a lot easier to create fiction. There’s so many things that can get in the way of creativity; this is just one.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
BE: Thankfully, no. I try to find a “voice”—another myth I’d like to dispel—with every short story, chapter or scene I write. Sometimes a story begs to be in first-person POV, sometimes it’s third-person limited with Deep POV. As Stephen King said: “The story is the boss.” I like to be as malleable as possible. Of course, there will be “water-marks” of “me.” So far, I’ve heard a trademark of mine is: Real-life horror coupled with supernatural elements. I really try—keyword being try. Ha!—to respect my readers and push their imaginations to new heights.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
BE: The original title was different. I was talking with my good friend and fellow author Andrew Wolter one day, and he told me he didn’t like the title. I asked him what he felt would be a good title and he told me he really liked Cracked Sky. I thought about it for a few days and warmed up to it. So, I have Andrew to thank for that one. Gotta give credit where it’s due.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
BE: Other than wanting to send chills down their spines? Whether the tragedy you experience is small or large, seek help—friends, family, a therapist, etc… Sadly, the news shows us every day what happens when tragedy hits someone, and their belief meets an insidious justification.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
BE: It begins with real-life horror—a family loses their only child in an accident caused by a drunk driver…this is just the beginning of their problems. Despite the rest of the book having heavy supernatural elements, hopefully, that’s believable as well. I remember the amazing Neil Gaiman saying once, “I believe in fantasy. Not that dragons exist, but that dragons can be beaten.”
Fiona: Are the experiences your characters in Cracked Sky have based on someone you know, or events in your own life? What was the hardest part?
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’s received and the reviews it’s getting made all the pain worthwhile.
The main character, Stephen and the villain, Darrell are really two sides of the same coin. They’re both a text-book example of what can happen to you after suffering a great tragedy.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
BE: Too many to list! Ha! But here’s a short list of the authors that influenced me the most: Clive Barker, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Kate Jonez, Lisa Morton, Jeremy C. Shipp, Kealan Patrick Burke, Gene O’Neill, Rena Mason, Joe R. Lansdale, Jorge Luis Borges, O’ Henry, Theodore Sturgeon, Charles L. Grant, Lucy Snyder, Gina Rinalli—oh, I could keep listing names.
My beta-readers are mentors. They’re always helping me improve my craft.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
BE: I’m currently reading, Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale and, Chuggie and the Prisoner Gods by Brent Michael Kelley. I can’t recommend both highly enough.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
BE: Indeed! Jeremy C. Shipp, Kate Jonez, Rena Mason, Gina Rinalli, Patrick Rutigliano, Jonathan Winn, Mercedes M. Yardley, Anthony J. Rapino, Jeff Beezler, Jordan Krall, D. Harlan Wilson, Martin Rose, Mary Rajotte, Louise Bohmer, Sheldon Higdon…I know I’m forgetting a few, so please forgive me.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
BE: Thanks for asking! I’ll be working with the man, the myth, the legend, R.J. Cavender on a short story that will be published in an anthology titled, Tales From The Lake Volume: 2 which Crystal Lake Publishing is putting out. I’m very proud of that short story. I’ll be sharing the pages with legends like Jack Ketchum, Lisa Morton, Graham Masterton, Ramsey Campbell, Edward Lee, Rena Mason, Steven Savile and Raven Dane.
I’m in the process of getting my next novella/novel together as well. I’m very excited about this one. I hope to have it turned in to the press by October of this year.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
BE: The dark fiction/horror community itself. Everyone—for the most part—loves everyone, and is very helpful. Readers of horror think we’re sick, twisted people who eat dead babies. Ha! In reality, we’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and if it weren’t for the help of others, I wouldn’t be where I am. Everyone pays it forward. I don’t have time for those who don’t pay it forward. I don’t suffer fools.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
BE: Sure. I think everyone has their own view, and that’s OK. But I see it as a hobby, a support system for life, as well. What a lot of people think when they read that question is: Can you make a living off it? I know award-winning, best-selling authors who still have day-jobs, so that dispels yet another myth.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
BE: Of course. I would be a pretentious asshole if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be growing as a writer. That said, I learned a lot from working with Bram Stoker © Award finalist Kate Jonez. She’s not only a top-notch writer, she’s also the best editor I’ve worked with so far. She really held my feet to the fire on this one. But you can’t please everyone all the time. Ha!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
BE: The new novella/novel is classified Top Secret. But the short story that I mentioned earlier ties in with Cracked Sky. Not directly, more like a shared-world vibe. A veteran returns home to West Virginia to find the town he grew up in utterly changed…and not for the better.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
BE: Sure. I think I’m with everyone when I say the hardest part is coming up with a unique and compelling story that readers can’t put down. That’s the hardest. Next to that would be creating real, believable worlds and the characters that populate them. I’m a perfectionist; I’m always polishing.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
BE: I don’t have a favorite writer, per say. I feel that would limit me. I immerse myself in every genre I can, and pull the good parts away. Again, any author who is pushing reader’s imaginations to new heights are at the top of my list.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
BE: Not really. I’m trying my best to hit two conventions this year: The World Horror Convention and Anthocon. I wouldn’t consider that a lot of traveling. I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing my friends and making new ones, as well as interacting with the fans of horror and turning them on to my work.
Fiona: Who designed the cover?
BE: My friend Justin Abraham is to thank for that cover. He really knocked it out of the ball-park. I’m looking forward to working with him again. In 2010, he read my short story, Stray which appeared in Shroud Magazine Issue: 11. Before it was accepted, he told me that the imagery struck him and that he wanted to do a sketch for the magazine. The press accepted it, and he’s been making me look good ever since. Ha!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
BE: How fun it can be! In the micro-verse: Layering, themes, and tying them together better than I did before. I also learned a lot more about ambiguity; how much is too little, how much is too much.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
BE: I’ll rely on what writers who are far better at the craft than I am have said: Read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read—or you’re not well read—you don’t have the time to be a writer. Find people in the community that are capable of good, constructive criticism, and take what they say about your work seriously. It took me three years to find the beta-readers I have and I wouldn’t be here without them. Never stop growing; keep your ego out of it. Take your work seriously, just don’t take yourself seriously. When you come across fiction that elicits your emotions, remember that, and use that as the litmus test for your own fiction—if you’re not emotionally moved, chances are your reader won’t be either.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
BE: Nope. I think everyone in the horror genre is trying to show their readers that all bets are off. What they thought was banal could escalate into something that chills them to the bone.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
BE: Yes I do. It was, The Treasure of the Scroll by Valerie Reddix. I’m trying to track her down and thank her. That’s not been easy. Wish me luck!
It was a children’s book—I hate using that as it condescends to children—about these cats who are knights fighting Gore Wolves for their territory. The Gore Wolves they had to face were terrible. It reminds me of Lord of the Rings, but with cats and dogs. I have her to thank for becoming a reader.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
BE: I love studying martial arts, philosophy, and finding the secrets to the universe. I’m a very, very curious person. But aren’t all artists? By trade, I’m a geek. I’ve had a career in Information Technology for over thirteen years.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
BE: My tastes are pretty eclectic. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Family Guy, or South Park, and sometimes I’m in the mood for Breaking Bad. The latter is one of my favorites. They really set the standard for what constitutes a good show. I really enjoy documentaries on just about anything, really. The only “horror” shows I actually enjoy are The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Everything else in horror is either insipid, or just imitation.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
BE: Thanks for asking! You can head on over to www.beneadsfiction.com to follow my insane musings. You can also subscribe to The Cracked Sky Newsletter on my website, too. You’ll have access to exclusives and everything relating to Cracked Sky. I have giveaways going on, so you could win a free copy of the novella, or a signed numbered limited edition book by a legend in the horror field.