This Author Spotlight features the return of horror writer and Bram Stoker Award winner Benjamin Kane Ethridge, whose latest book DUNGEON BRAIN (Nightscape Press) is now available.
Benjamin is also the author of the novel BOTTLED ABYSS and BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010), for which he won the coveted Bram Stoker Award.
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, or videogaming, Benjamin's defending California's waterways and sewers from pollution.
1. This is a follow-up interview, but for people who are not already familiar with your work, tell us what kind of books you write and what readers should expect from your stories, and what is your latest novel DUNGEON BRAIN about?
I write horror, dark fantasy and science fiction stories. I won the Bram Stoker Award for my first novel BLACK & ORANGE and my second novel BOTTLED ABYSS has achieved some acclaim. My third novel DUNGEON BRAIN is starting to get into more people’s hands and I’m getting some great reviews. The story is dark science fiction, but for all those wary readers out there, I have to clarify that it isn’t Hard SciFi. The story revolves around a woman trapped in an abandoned hospital by a sadistic nurse. Within her mind, the woman has countless personalities stored, but she cannot recall her own personality. It turns out the nurse is drugging her, robbing her of her memory and a unique ability she has yet to realize. After struggling with set-backs, losing her memory again and again, the woman develops a plan to escape her hospital room and the nurse. What she finds out in the world, however, might be even worse…
2. What was the duration of the writing process for DUNGEON BRAIN?
I think I wrote it in about three months. Edited three months. Then I sent it to my beta reader and also to a professional editor, since I wanted to be sure it made sense—as there are some out-there concepts in the novel.
3. When DUNGEON BRAIN is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?
I really don’t know. I’m not up with the names of newer actors and actresses. I would choose acting ability over appearance though.
4. Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee is also enjoying doing so these days. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of DUNGEON BRAIN?
I would like to be one of the towering Rotviq aliens. It would have to be a really big rubber suit though. Maybe I can play a baby Rotviq.
5. For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?
There’s been many. NERVES by John Palisano springs to mind. It’s a great, trippy, well written story that should be experienced by everyone with literary taste for their horror.
6. As of this writing, the trend in publishing is toward series novels as opposed to stand-alone books. Is DUNGEON BRAIN part of a series? If so, where do you see the story going (ie how many books in the series)? If not, do you have a series you’ve written or plan to write, and if so, what is it? And if not, good for you. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!
I’m involved already in two series. My BLACK & ORANGE series will make up five books when it is completed. NIGHTMARE BALLAD, coming in February 2013, is the first of a trilogy. DUNGEON BRAIN was originally intended for one book. I’ve got an idea about how to do a second novel though. I’m not sure I’d want to do a third, but the idea I have for the second is pretty nuts, so I like it already. Ha!
7. Saul Bellow said “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Where do ideas for your books come from, and where are you and what are you typically doing when inspiration strikes?
I don’t look for inspiration anymore. I just jump into the lake and hope an eel bites me. Some days I swim for a long time with no results. Others, I’ve hardly adjusted to the water’s coldness and I’m being attacked from all sides. The ideas come to you. You can never go to them. That’s what I always try to keep in mind.
8. Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that Benjamin Kane Ethridge is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating his next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectation influence how and/or what he writes? Or will he hold to Ellis’ suggestion?
Most writers write for readers, and their intention is to entertain or inform, in the best possible way, which would by most accounts derive praise. So I think the great Brett Ellis might be a little too taken with the concept of artistic self love. I adored everything I wrote in middle school and high school, but after cherishing a box of printer paper, I began wanting to share it. Now, if Ellis is talking about focusing on writing rather than focusing on being “good” then I agree with him. Your question brings me to a central conclusion though. You have to keep your readers happy, but you must also resolve to write the book you want to write—otherwise, it will be fake.
9. The world of Indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?
Why did you take so long? hehe
10. Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?
I want more visible mountain tops ahead of me. Striving for more keeps this business fresh. That’s why so many big names take on pseudonyms. They want that trek again. It’s gratifying. I’m still enjoying the battle toward the summit. I hope in five years to see many miles climbed, but also a healthy ascent before me.
Finally, because no artistic endeavor is a solo flight, would you care to share the names and contact info for your supporting players, namely your cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), research assistants, hairdresser, dog groomer, chauffer, maid, butler, etc?
Sure! And thanks for asking! Since we are talking DUNGEON BRAIN here, let me point to Nightscape Press. Editor and publishers Robert and Jennifer Wilson, and Mark Scioneaux. The cover artist and my good friend Gabriel Lopez. Anita Siraki for putting together a great blog tour, and I’d also like to give a shout out to RJ Cavender and Carl Alves for their first looks at the manuscript. Metallica, for supplying the music in my mind for the war scenes. Hairdresser— that would be me, the fine tooth comb and extra hold gel. Dog groomer—I have a short haired cat, and therefore grooming is unnecessary and possibly a deadly proposition. Chauffer—my wife, usually when I’ve drank too much. Maid—she wasn’t French so I sent her home. Butler—he didn’t look suspicious enough to me, so I sent him home as well.
Good stuff, Benjamin. Best of luck with DUNGEON BRAIN, and with the trek up the mountain. Let us know when your fame and fortune-based boredom spawn a pseudonym.
To read Benjamin's first Author Spotlight, click HERE.