ABOUT BENJAMIN ETHRIDGE
Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010). For his master’s thesis he wrote, “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 two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin’s defending California’s waterways and sewers from pollution.
To learn more about Benjamin, visit his website at:www.bkethridge.com
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How long have you been writing?
I’ve written stories since before I was ten years old. My first novel, a thriller-fantasy called THE FAVORED ONE, I wrote in seventh grade. Back then it was all about creating a large stack of printer paper with words on every page; it was about completing something long enough to be considered the same species as those magical tomes on shelves at the grocery store. Next, I wrote another novel in high school, which was more metaphysical horror, about purgatory and the different dimensions in between—this one was entitled CLANDESTINE. After that, during my roaring twenties, I had many false starts. I wrote a gothic space opera called SEPULCHER, which I still love but haven’t had time to adjust to my current standards. I’ve actually written three versions of SEPULCHER and probably will write a fourth before submitting it for publication—that story is always growing into something else.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Anything dark, with heavy doses of fantasy. I also write Science Fiction, but nothing Hard. The science in my SF is heavily buoyed by tenants of fantasy because my mind doesn’t easily manufacture scientific speculation. I can tell you that writing in most popular genres doesn’t scare me, but writing historical fiction comes close—I would require many astute beta readers to make me feel comfortable with setting and factual accuracy.
What made you want to be a writer?
I kept getting told I was good at it. As a kid this helped me enormously. Having a parent, a teacher, a friend say, “Wow, that’s really well done,” always helped boost my confidence, as well as got me thinking about how much I enjoyed the craft and loved having others “hear” my stories. I’ve said this in the past, but it shouldn’t be left out for the sake of dodging repetition, that as a child I was a tremendous liar. I made things up left and right, up and down, sideways and diagonal. But the lies were harmless—they were always referring to stories that didn’t exist, but that I desired to be known. Putting them on paper was a moral choice.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Writing when you don’t want to write. It happens to me often enough where I internally go through a routine that amounts to beating the crap out of myself. I’ve learned that writing really is work, so any type of work is going to be faced with a certain amount of laziness. Some people romanticize about muses arriving or not arriving—eh, reach through that dark glassine threshold, grab that scrawny fairy by the throat and yank her into your world. Don’t wait for the muse to come to you—that won’t help you meet a deadline or produce anything. You have to bully the muse. That has to be your relationship from now on. And I’m fine with that because she never visits me on her own unless I’m drunk or just about to fall asleep (or both).
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I definitely want to supplement my income with writing. If it gets to the point where I can sustain myself or quit my day job, I suppose I’d eventually do that—trouble is, I like having something else to do besides writing; it keeps my mind primed for that muse-wrangling I mentioned earlier.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Yes, depending on which way you look at it: no style or all styles. I will always strive to be entertaining and interesting. Those are my concrete goals. If I can inform or make social, political, human commentary, I will of course be happier, but that’s gravy. As far as style goes, the story dictates the vehicle. For instance, my first novel, Black & Orange, was fairly florid and in my opinion, felt right for the tone I wanted. My latest novel Bottled Abyss isn’t as dependent on description, but relies more on emotion and tension, making the prose leaner and less vivid. I also used sections of stream of consciousness (SOC) in this novel, which I incorporate independently of the main story—however, in the novel I have coming later this year, Dungeon Brain, the SOC occurs within the narrative itself because I’m going for a more mazelike approach to storytelling. For better or for worse, I’ve discovered that while I may have recurring stylistic elements in my stories, I probably won’t ever settle on one single style.
Herman and Janet Erikson are going through a crisis of grief and suffering after losing their daughter in a hit and run. They’ve given up on each other; they’ve given up on themselves. They are living day by day. One afternoon, to make a horrible situation worse, their dog goes missing in the coyote-infested badlands behind their property. Herman, resolved in preventing another tragedy, goes to find the dog, completely unaware he’s on a hike to the River Styx, the border between the Living world and the world of the dead.
Long ago the Gods died and the River dried up, but a bottle containing its waters still remains in the badlands. What Herman discovers about the dark power contained in those waters will change his and Janet’s lives forever…