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Interview: Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Author of Black & Orange

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Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s fiction has appeared in Doorways Magazine, Dark Recesses, FearZone, and others. His dark fantasy novel Black & Orange (Bad Moon Books 2010) has won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel. Beyond that he’s written several collaborations with Michael Louis Calvillo, one of which is a novella called Ugly Spirit, available in 2011. He also wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “Cuases 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 daughter, both lovely and both worthy of better. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, he’s defending California’s waterways and sewers from pollution. 

You can visit his website at BKEthridge.com.

Welcome, Benjamin. It’s great to have you here. Please tell us a bit about your book: Black & Orange – characters, plot, etc.

On Halloween a gateway opens to a terrifying place of sacrificial magic known as the Old Domain. The Church of Midnight and their diabolic leader, Chaplain Cloth, are hell-bent to keep the gateway open forever. Martin and Teresa, known as the Nomads, have the mission to prevent a sacrifice from being fed to the gateway. This sacrifice is an energy source that grows in a different person every year. This year, however, things have gotten worse. Teresa’s losing a battle to lung cancer and Martin can’t bare the thought of fighting this battle alone. The Church of Midnight is backstabbing each other– making internal moves they haven’t before, and the sacrifice this year is something that nobody would ever see coming. Meanwhile, Chaplain Cloth plans to merge the worlds and start his reign of destruction on the universe.

What is one thing about your book that makes it different from other books on the market?

It’s a fantasy take on Halloween myth. It isn’t traditional Halloween-horror, nor is it like A Nightmare before Christmas. If Halloween could be seen as a Rubik’s Cube of ancient history and folklore, Black & Orange is an attempt at using the pieces to make a Rubik’s Sphere. It’s a different paradigm, in other words

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I remember vividly wanting to be a veterinarian, but having to see animals suffer every day kind of nixed that for me. As a child I had a terrible tendency to lie all the time, mostly make up stories and try to get my friends to buy into them. After a time I asked myself, “why not skip the lying and just write this stuff down.”

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

I thought it great looking. I was happy with it, but strangely I felt I should have been more enthusiastic about the experience. I think it might have been because I’m particularly suspicious about being happy—I feel that if I let my guard down something awful will follow.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

Yes. I felt before that I’d be much more at peace, but I’m instead thinking about the next project. I need to learn to catch a whiff of the roses now and again, I guess.

What are you reading right now?

A Matrix of Angels by Christopher Conlon. I’m halfway finished and already believe it will be one of my favorite reads this year. Conlon is a truly magnificent writer.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

For Horror: Michael Louis Calvillo (I Will Rise), Richard Laymon (The Cellar), John R. Little (Ursa Major), Bentley Little (The Ignored), Lisa Morton (The Lucid Dreaming), Jack Ketchum (The Girl Next Door), Thomas Ligotti (Shadow at the Bottom of the World).

For Fantasy: Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), George RR Martin (Game of Thrones), Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance).

For Science Fiction: Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) and Philip K. Dick (Ubik).

Of course there are many others in these genres and others.

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

James Joyce. I’d like to ask him for any hints about Finnegan’s Wake.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

I’d love to reach the point where I have people soliciting stories from me, rather than my trying to sell them. I’m a poor salesman and it wears on me. This is definitely a work in progress. I’m currently setting up submission bundles for my next novel.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t let life pass you by. This might be the only chance you get to experience something new, whether it be another country or another food. Challenge yourself. Do it all and always keep looking ahead to your next adventure. Living a static life is just warmed-over death. So go at it.

Thanks for being with us today, Benjamin. We wish you the best.

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About Cheryl C. Malandrinos