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An Interview with Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Published February 1, 2016 by MommaCat

BenjaminKaneEthridge

Most authors have had many jobs to pay the bills in their quest to become successful. What are some of the the jobs that you have held?

Target (cart attendant, cashier, graveyard shift stock team), Substitute elementary school teacher, Environmental compliance inspector, Program/ Project manager

Being an aspiring published author is different for everybody.

How much did winning the Stoker Award so early in your career change your perceptions toward your writing and writing as a career?

The biggest thing I found was that I didn’t have to work as hard to be published. Trying to get published is probably just as much work, initially, as the writing itself. Once I won the award and started selling more books, I would be invited to anthologies and receive book deals (of widely varying degrees). Although rejection isn’t a thing of the past by any means, a new idea came to be: pre-acceptance. Publishers were willing to buy what I was going to write, and that was very strange; it makes you question the quality of your own fiction, whether it will ever really be judged the way it had been previously as a novice writer.

Would you talk about your upcoming books and their production schedule?

I am working on the first novel in a series for JournalStone books. SLAUGHTER MAN: MOON CITY TALE. It’s a SciFi adventure with a little hard boiled mood. It’s taking longer than I expected because dumb errors have cropped up and life has decided it needed to keep on happening. But the novel shall get done soon. It shall.

Have you ever devised a character and then written a plot around them?

Yes, my Slaughter Man novella from the Limbus INC anthology comes to mind. I worked with a lot of decent, blue collar guys in my day and I wanted to create a story about someone who reminded me of them. It’s great to have a character that will keep you excited throughout the writing process, a person that will not always make the choices that will make the story easy to write, and therefore the entire creation becomes that much more realistic.

THIS HOUSE… on the surface appears to be a haunted house story. At the very least it seems to question how a house gets haunted. But the reader learns something very different by the end. Would you talk about your thought process as you sat down to write and tell us how the writing flowed (or didn’t)?

I sat down to write a haunted house story that would be the Ethridge Haunted House story. I wanted it to be mine. With everything I write, there are those who may appreciate my intentions and those who may not. Some people can go on reading and watching the same types of books and movies and be completely happy with experiencing similar stories but with differently arranged dominoes that ultimately spill out to the same destination.

I’m not judging. For me, I’m the same way with some genres, but not for haunted house stories. I just cannot be worked up about them anymore, even if they’re well done. After Matheson’s HELLHOUSE and King’s THE SHINING, every other take felt like eating saltines with varying degrees of saltiness. Now, I know I’m discounting quite a bit of lore and literature here, and while there are some literary greats who have been absolutely innovative in the genre (enter Shirley Jackson), I cannot say I’ve really been affected by the “bad place” story since having childhood nightmares about Jack Nicholson limping through the snow with an axe.

The horror factor isn’t what compelled me, by the way, to remember such images. I was more interested in considering wow, what happened to that kid’s father? Can you imagine if one of your parents changed into such a violent manifestation of their former self? The guy was an abusive alcoholic and the end result of that flaw exploited to the horror-ith power really intrigued me. I was more interested in what haunted a human being, and I didn’t want to involve the supernatural in that study. I’m not believer. Not in the supernatural, or the natural though. This is fiction and so I don’t need to answer to other convictions or even my own. I don’t want to write about people who conjure up false mental demons and spirits. I want to write about mental demons and spirits who conjure up false people. THAT is fascinating to me. Is it scary? Yes, I think if you put yourself in the shoes of any of the characters in THIS HOUSE… it would be terrifying to have such little control over the parasitic chaos in your life.

I wrote this novella a couple years back, but I recall it flowing steadily from start to end. Back then I was averaging around three thousand words a day. So I probably had a draft in under a couple weeks.

Who are the authors that have influenced your writing the most?

James Joyce, Stephen King, Madeleine L’Engle, Robert Jordan, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson, Emily Dickinson, and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

If you were able to trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and why?

Somebody dying with huge regrets. I want to know where the thoughts go toward the end. I want to know how that process of acceptance feels. Coming out of something like that would give a person stronger psychological armor than anything else I can imagine. It’d be a blessing to live a life with such knowledge.

What are the next three books you’re planning to read?

Oh boy. I should be incarcerated for the lack of reading I’ve been doing lately. I need to finish my Tom Savage novel (because he’s awesome and all his books are great books). I also need to read more of my fiancé Sara Brooke’s work, because she writes tight, wonderful mainstream horror, which I could stand to learn enormous amounts from. And I need to read the last Wheel of Time book. The series ended and I’ve still not finished it—and I’ve enjoyed Sanderson’s piloting of the conclusion thus far.

What five people living or dead would you invite to a dinner party?

Jesus Christ – not because I’m Christian, but because I want to see if he really looks like old school Kenny Loggins as all the cheap paintings portray, or if he looks like a Cro-Magnon Charlie Manson as the latest forensic anthropological studies suggests. I just want to know.

Jack the Ripper – so I can turn the bastard in.      Ripper

 

Michael Louis Calvillo – because he was a great friend of mine which I lost too early, and he always enjoyed a good party.

Shakespeare – just to see if twenty different people show up.

Henry Rollins – because he’ll help with turning over Jack the Ripper to the authorities and when he returns to the table he’ll keep the conversation lively.

How do you want the world to remember you?

As someone who lived, and then wrote stories about it.

 

I will remember your stories, Ben. And I’d like to thank you for taking time from writing to visit with us today.  Look for more on Benjamin at these links:

FACEBOOKPINTERESTGOODREADS, TWITTER

February 2 is the release date for THIS HOUSE…  this-house  As I said in the interview, on the surface it appears to be  haunted house story.  And that cover sure grabs your eye, doesn’t it?  Awesome artwork!

But, as you delve into the pages you’ll find much more than you were expecting…  You’ll be glad you read it. Available at Amazon, B&N and the usual booksellers.

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Dark Avenging Angel by Catherine Cavendish

Published August 1, 2015 by MommaCat

I discovered Cat Cavendish’s books not too long ago and she very quickly became one of my to be hoarded authors.  She writes a type of horror I don’t see often: gothic, wonderfully descriptive, have witches, demons, good ol’ scares horror.  ANGEL is a perfect example of her writing.  While I wouldn’t call it gothic (not the right timeframe) and there aren’t any witches in this particular book; it’s got all the rest.

Jane is a young woman who has an abusive father. Nothing she does is good enough, but her mother won’t leave him.  Somewhat on the order of a fairy godmother a tall, dark woman appears to Jane and offers her vengeance on her father.  She tells her to decide carefully – she can choose two more in her life, then anything she wants can be hers.

Cavendish takes us through Jane’s life and we see why she makes the decisions she finally does.  But what does this mean for Jane? Why has she been given an angel?

Get your copy at Amazon.com

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The Family Tree by John Everson

Published July 1, 2015 by MommaCat

Scott Belvedere receives an inheritance from his great-uncle – The Family Tree Inn located in Virginia.  His family has been running it for generations and now it belongs to Scott; there are no other Belvederes left.  He leaves his job in Chicago for a couple of weeks to check the business out and decide what should be done.

He finds a rustic well kept inn built around an enormous tree. He’s treated to an ale made from the sap of the tree with unusual properties.  And the women of the area seem to be exceptionally attracted to him.  Is it because he’s the owner of this successful Inn?  Or is it something else?

John Everson builds this story slowly and lets the reader get to know all the characters as the plot thickens and the horror builds.  There is a lot of graphic sex in this novel and some violence as well.  Everson weaves the paranormal into the story line with the skill of the expert that he is.  I really enjoyed this novel and hope that you will too.

 Pick up a copy of THE FAMILY TREE today at Amazon.com

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An Interview with Maynard Sims

Published June 15, 2015 by MommaCat

Len  on the left Mick on the right!

Len on the left Mick on the right!

  • How do the two of you tackle writing a book together?

Mick – It was a painful process to get to the fluent process we have now. We started with short stories back in the 70’s and all of those stories were a learning curve of course. What I don’t think we realized at the time was that we were both not only learning to write – and all writers develop at different speeds – but we were also learning to write with another person. Those two things combined certainly made for a combustible mix.

One way it would work was one would start a story, stop for a variety of reasons, hand it over to the other for them to finish. We then had a jointly written story. We decided very early on that each story should have one author voice – by which I mean more than just a style, although a cohesive style was important. Another way we did it was for one of us to completely write a story and then hand it to the other to edit, revise, as needed. That was when a lot of rows began. How dare he suggest changes to my precious story? We had a meeting place by the river, near the pub, and after a row, sometimes hours after, we would meet up there as if by pre-arrangement and come to an agreement about the story. Pregnant pauses were our specialty, with silence as a weapon.

Over the years we have smoothed it all out. We are open and honest with each other, and no offence is taken when change is suggested. I have a voodoo doll of Len at home with enough pins left to carry me over the next few years.

Taking it right up to the present day, when we write as many novels as stories, we each write the complete book/story and then hand it over to the other for revision which includes proofing, copy editing, as well as
revising if we feel it needs it.
With each book we spend days at the end reading it together, page by page, for grammar, continuity, repetition and other flaws we find.

With the novels, each has been different. We find it is important that a book has a single voice – an author point of view, a narrative drive the reader can connect with. Luckily our styles have developed over the years into a single M&S style so there is never a case of anyone being able to see the joins. Although one reviewer did say they could – on a book one of had written alone. No wonder they couldn’t reply when I asked them where the joins were! We also got a review along the lines of – did it really take two of them to write this pile of **** – which was one reason behind the change of name to Maynard Sims.

So we write separately – we live about 25 miles apart – and send a finished piece via email. The other reads and proofs and revises. Usually there are typos of course and continuity issues but often paragraphs or whole chapters are added in.

Len – We wrote as individuals for a while then realized that we would be competing for the same markets, so the sensible thing seemed to be to pool our resources. And we’ve been writing together ever since. Initially we would finish each other’s stories and argue about which version was better. We’d spend hours discussing a
single word if we felt passionately enough about it.

We used to brainstorm, sometimes for weeks on end. I remember one novel we planned early on in our careers was discussed at length and completely story-boarded – a process that went on for weeks if not months. In fact it took so long to plan we both ran out of steam on it and it was shelved. We refined the process after that. I think we have been writing together for so long now that we respect each other’s strengths and recognize each other’s weaknesses.

When I write something I want to blow Mick’s socks off. That’s the challenge. That’s why I think we’re very fortunate to have this partnership. Sitting alone at the computer, writing away with no idea who your potential reader might be must be a very daunting process. I read a writing tuition book years ago and in it the author said that you must write the book for “the anonymous reader looking over your shoulder.” I don’t have to do that. Mick’s the reader looking over my shoulder, and I figure if I can impress him then I must be doing something right.

  • If you could live in any world, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

Mick – I don’t read Fantasy, never understood it, so imaginary worlds aren’t for me. I am quite happy in my own little world of writing, seeing daughter and granddaughter, occasional holidays, gardening, reading, TV, meals out, walking the dog, stroking the cat. I am very grounded in reality and happy to be who I am.

Len – I tend to be rooted in the past, but a past that is often seen through my own rose-tinted glasses. I’m sure it wasn’t really as good as I remember it, but I hanker for a world that was slower paced, when technology wasn’t all pervading, when you could go out for a meal or a drink with someone and they weren’t preoccupied with their Twitter or Facebook feeds, and you could have a decent conversation.

  • Have you ever written yourself into a corner and asked the character what to do?

Mick – all the time. The characters that really stand out always take on a life of their own. I start to write, often with a very vague idea of who they are, and they flesh it all out themselves with their actions and emotions. I often feel as if I am just the conduit they need to present themselves to the world. It is one of the joys and mysteries of writing that what ends up on the page bears little resemblance to the initial thoughts that began the story. Often it is the merest of ideas that gets started and the characters take on the story and run with it.

Len – I do it all the time, unfortunately. I tend to start with a basic premise for a book, have a rough outline and then let the characters tell the story. Sometimes the characters aren’t all that forthcoming and I have to give them a nudge. The best way around it is to walk away and give the story some time to germinate in my subconscious. When it’s cooked I usually get an information dump to my conscious mind – usually at some Godawful time in the middle of the night. But that usually works.

  • Would you talk about your upcoming books and their production schedule?

Mick & Len – Samhain brought out a standalone ghost story novel in March – Stillwater. They have Department 18 book 5, Mother Of Demons, out in August and an e-novella, Convalescence, out in November. We have an erotic romance e-novella out in July from Siren.

We write standalone horror, the Department 18 series and erotic romances (under a pseudonym). In addition we write crime and thrillers. We self published three last year (Let Death Begin, Through The Sad Heart and Falling Apart At The Edges). We are in discussions with a new agent about a trilogy of novels set in the Bahamas and a new 1950’s set crime series (Jack Callum).

We have completed out tenth collection of ghost stories and strange tales and that is currently with a publisher.

We are co-editing an ITW anthology this year and are reading through submissions to that.

  • How important are character names and how do you come up with them?

Mick – names are important. They help outline who and what the character is and what their stance might be. Some names are perceived as stronger than others – in books and in life. Think whether the character will be called by their first or last name as that will help dictate what they are called.

Len – I often fall foul of inconsistency with names. I tend to name them depending on the action or emotion within a scene. That might mean I call a character Len in one scene, Len Maynard in another, then Maynard, and often Detective or whatever their job / rank is. I have learned to stop myself doing that but it remains one of the main things Mick corrects when he proofs my stuff.

  • Who are the authors that have influenced your writing the most?

Mick – Ed McBain, Tom Sharpe, Stephen Jones (editor), Don D’Auria (editor), H R Wakefield.

Len – I rarely read fiction when I’m writing, because I tend to soak up influences like a sponge and they end up coloring what I’m writing. But my early influences were Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch and British writers like Jack Higgins, Graeme Masterton, along with many of the ghost story writers from the golden period between the two world wars.

  • Would you fill us in on the screenplays you’ve written? What’s up for the future?

Mick – I have written all of these. I have a friend who produces 3D films and he has asked me several times in the past to write screenplays based on his ideas. I have written four of those for him. In addition we have a few shorter scripts based on our ghost stories. A screenplay based on The Eighth Witch and one called Department 18 which is based on scenes from Black Cathedral and Night Souls. That one won Best New Screenplay at the 2013 British Horror Film Festival and we had to go up to London to receive the award. All very exciting at the time but despite some interest none of our screenplays have ever been produced.

Len – I have never tried to write a screenplay. I am happy with stories and novels.

Mick & Len – 2015 will see Department 18 book 5, Mother Of Demons, from Samhain. A Bahamas trilogy of adventure novels – Touching The Sun, Calling Down The Lightning, and Raging Against The Storm, has been completed. A new crime series, featuring DCI Jack Callum, has been started, and the first novel written, Three Monkeys. Current work in progress includes the second Jack Callum novel, a new standalone crime thriller, a new supernatural novel, and further romances. 2016 will bring the tenth collection of ghost stories and strange tales – The Dead Are Dancing Down Our Walls – which will include all ourrecent new stories, many of them unpublished.

  • If you were able to trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and why?

Mick – It sounds pompous or something but I wouldn’t want to trade with anyone. I love what I have and don’t hanker after anything more. I wish I was taller, younger, fitter, more clever, but if given the chance to swap I wouldn’t. Better the devil and all that.

Len – I’m happy as I am thanks. All that “be careful of what you wish for” stuff rings true for me. I dare say if I swapped with someone, I’d discover they had some undiscovered and very unpleasant disease or something. So I wouldn’t want to tempt fate.

  • What are the next three books you’re planning to read?

Mick – Encore by Maynard Sims as that is the next one Len will finish (Jack Callum series book 2). The latest Mark Billingham. The next Peter Robinson.

Len – I have a whole shelf of books waiting to be read, but I’m writing at the moment, so they’ll have to wait.

  • What five people living or dead would you invite to a dinner party? And I wonder, if you were to throw a huge bash together, who would make both of your lists?

Mick – All dead – I’m not very sociable. My mum and dad. Ed McBain. Winston Churchill. Florence Nightingale.

Len – My dad – that would be fascinating as he died when I was five, Harry Patterson (Jack Higgins), and a whole host of people from the world of music hall (vaudeville) world. Failing them, Roy Hudd, who’s books about the last subject are my constant “go-to” reference works.

  • If you could claim one book as your own – think fame not fortune – what would it be?

Mick – I re-read the Ed McBain 87th Precinct novels all the time and love them all.

Len – The Furies by Keith Roberts.

  • How do you want the world to remember you?

Mick – as a good husband, father, grandfather, friend and brother, and a writer who could entertain the reader.

Len – As a nice bloke and general “good egg”, a good father, grandfather, brother and son, and as a writer who sought to entertain without the pretentions of being a great literary talent.

.  These lads are everywhere!  Find them on Facebook.  Check them out  on the web.  Follow them on Twitter.  They are on Pinterest and Instagram.  Want more?  Check Tumbler! On Linked In? Look here
It was a pleasure meeting you today Mick and Len. We’ll have to do it again sometime!

Mother of Demons by Maynard Sims

Published June 15, 2015 by MommaCat

Police procedural plus supernatural happenings equal Department 18 by the writing team known as Maynard Sims.  MOTHER OF DEMONS is the fifth book in this series.  This novel far exceeded my expectations  – you know how cops are with the paranormal usually. One believes, one doesn’t and after awhile it gets irritating.  Well, Department 18 knows the paranormal is real.  They’ve fought demons, seen ESP in action and don’t need to be told twice that a house is haunted.  I found that refreshing and very enjoyable.

In the tale we have a set of twins, a brother and sister born three minutes apart.  The girl, Alice, is fascinated with the Greek gods and believes herself to be one of them.  It doesn’t hurt that she has learned to open her mind and access the hidden powers of the brain that we all have buried.

These are all stand alone books and can be read in any order.  This one did make reference to a couple of very minor happenings from the past but it shouldn’t affect the reading enjoyment of the other novels.  I don’t normally read series out of order, I’m funny that way, but it seems it really doesn’t matter here.  So pick up any of the Department 18 books and enjoy one!   Amazon will release MOTHER OF DEMONS on August 4, 2015.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

They have a trailer at YouTube also: click here.

Buy MOTHER OF DEMONS at Amazon.com

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The Unhinged by David Bernstein

Published November 30, 2014 by MommaCat

THE UNHINGED was released by Samhain Publications on November 4  and is author David Bernstein’s newest entry this year in the extreme horror category.  UNHINGED introduces us to Aaron. He’s a guy who made a mistake and paid the price in prison.  Now he’s out on parole and living with his mother, “working at a dead-end job and trying to look toward the future.

But the future is blocked by a dirty cop with a grudge.  And since Aaron is on parole the tiniest misstep will send him back to prison. And so the his descent to hell begins.  This book is extremely graphic. There are graphic sexual situations and extremely violent situations.  Why I find this entertaining speaks to Bernstein’s writing and story telling ability. I cared about the people involved. This wasn’t just a slasher story, there were reasons behind everything that was done.

Just prior to UNHINGED he collaborated with three other horror authors to produce JACKPOT!  This was a story about a serial killer winner the lottery, and is a series that should not be missed.   UNHINGED was extreme horror that had me laughing. What more can you ask for?

Buy UNHINGED today at Amazon.com

Unhinged

 

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