As we all know, a certain curvaceous reality-show celebrity recently attempted to break the Internet by revealing her backside to a photographer. Horror writer Ben Eads hasn’t broken the Web with pictures of his anatomy (to my knowledge!), but he did crack the sky with a great new literary work … entitled, appropriately enough, CRACKED SKY. Let’s check in on Ben and see what’s cooking…
MM: Ben, rumor has it that when you were ten, you wrote a story for a school assignment that so horrific, it appalled your teacher! But, your classmates loved it. What was the story’s title and what was the plot?
BE: That rumor is correct, I’m happy to say. The title — hey, I was only ten, cut me some slack, ha! — was Halloween. It was about these kids who go trick-or-treating and find out they have to survive a neighborhood full of zombies! It was a writing assignment we were all given after our summer vacation. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was the inspiration as it was one of the first horror films I saw. The teacher held me back after class and said, “OK, you can write. But please, please, no more of that horrible stuff!” Well, rest assured, I didn’t stop. Ha!
MM: The nerve of that teacher, trying to stifle your creativity! (Note to self: Write a stern letter to the PTA and send it back in time to Ben’s school.) I’m thinking you must have read a lot of horror fiction as a kid. Back then, who were some of your favorite authors?
BE: You’re correct. I’m big fan of Stephen King. I read my first King novel when I was eleven. After that, I starting getting into Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Jorge Lois Borgis, Robert Howard, Charles L. Grant, Terry Brooks, Clive Barker, John Steakley, Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson, Kafka, Somerset Maugham, Neil Gaiman, Algernon Blackwood, Jack Ketchum, and Richard Matheson … those were the biggest influences.
MM: What was your first published story — and, where have subsequent stories from you appeared?
BE: My first published story was through a free-zine. I’m not proud of it, however I mentioned it because I’ve noticed most writers start there, submission-wise. Don’t! You won’t learn anything from it. My “real” first published pro-sale was a short story titled Full Circle to Shroud Magazine. Since then, I’ve had more fiction featured in Shroud Magazine, The Ashen Eye, a few anthologies, and some really killer anthologies coming out this year. One is by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost. The other will be in an anthology Tales From The Lake Volume 2, by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’ll be sharing the pages with Jack Ketchum, Lisa Morton, Graham Masterton, etc… I’m really looking forward to that one!
MM: Your first published book is the new novella, CRACKED SKY. Tell us about that project.
BE: The concept of CRACKED SKY hit me like a diamond bullet between the eyes! I knew I had something very big on my hands. It was like a monkey was on my back; I didn’t have a choice. It’s the best experience I’ve had writing yet. It was also the most challenging. Stephen King said in his book On Writing that you shouldn’t come to the blank page lightly. Check! He also said you shouldn’t be afraid to “go there.” Well, it took a lot of courage to follow the latter. I’m glad I did because a lot of people have contacted me and told me that after reading the novella they decided to reach out to loved ones they hadn’t spoken to in decades, etc… Mission accomplished!
Ha! The “movie trailer” for it played it my head 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.
In essence, the characters in CRACKED SKY represent what could happen to us if we suffer a great tragedy, and the protagonist and antagonist are both sides of the same coin. I love melding real-life horror with the supernatural. Emotions are powerful and have weight — sometimes they can rip a hole in reality, and something can come out.
MM: CRACKED SKY is the compelling story of the loss of a child, grief and family tragedy. Powerful stuff! What was your inspiration? What drove you to write such an emotionally charged tale?
BE: Thanks for the kind words! 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.
MM: So, how can people obtain a copy of CRACKED SKY? And while you’re at it, can you give us some links to an author page and other Eads-oriented websites?
BE: You can hop on over to Amazon.com and purchase it in print and electronic editions:
However, if you subscribe to The CRACKED SKY Newsletter on my webpage — http://www.beneadsfiction.com — you’ll have a chance to win free copies of CRACKED SKY, free copies of magazines where my short fiction has appeared, and I have some signed numbered limited edition books by legends in the field of horror as well.
Aside from my website, http://www.beneadsfiction.com, I have an Amazon.com author page too:
Also, you can follow my insanity on Facebook and Twitter or drop me a line:
MM: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Ben! I’m sure this book will be the first of many!