March 31st sees the publication of Hunger And Other Dark Tales by Benjamin DeHaan – a new addition to the DEMAIN family. The collection contains five chilling stories – the cover is by Adrian Baldwin, the cover image by Dark Artist Roberto Segate. As 2022 came to an end, Dean and Benjamin chatted all things Hunger…
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Benjamin, welcome. I really enjoyed reading your collection – for those out there who perhaps aren’t familiar with you or your work, could you tell us a little about you…
BENJAMIN DEHAAN: Hello and yes, of course. I was born and raised in southern Wisconsin, USA but have been working and living in Japan for more than ten years. I mostly became a writer because I have always enjoyed stories in all mediums and am curious on how works of fiction are created at the more micro level. I am still fascinated today on the process and learn new things all the time.
DP: So would you say your background has had some influence on you as a writer?
BD: My background is Sustainability (Circular Economy), International Trade, Japanese Language, and Asia Culture Studies, but I feel they don’t influence my writing for the most part (maybe they do subconsciously). Other works of genre fiction, film, and music that move me in some way have a much deeper impact on the types of stories I produce. Especially music these days.
DP: Ah, I’m with you there – music is so important to me as a creator. It’s odd that when I re-read my older work I know instantly what songs/artists I was listening too at the time. For a school thesis I wrote a piece about James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage but at the same time was listening to a cd by Alyson Moyet – they have now become so intertwined in my consciousness. Anyway, anyway – what would you say was your first introduction to the horror/fantasy genre?
BD: The Hobbit and the Redwall Series sucked me into the fantasy genre at a young age, and I have always been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy video game series and the music. When it comes to horror, the film Leprechaun (haha) and The People Under the Stairs are my earliest memories. I am a later boomer when it comes to horror fiction however. The Walking Dead comics introduced me to great horror storytelling and interesting/complex character dynamics. The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The North Water by Ian McGuire taught me the power of dark fiction and sentence-to-sentence structure importance to conjure up certain feelings in the reader.
DP: Some great titles there for sure – I love The People Under The Stairs and have some experience of the Final Fantasy series too (used to play it with my brother). So, Hunger And Other Dark Tales…
BD: This collection includes the first five horror short stories that I have ever published. A variety pack of contemporary, historical, and science fiction horror. I would like to say more, but I don’t want to spoil too much. (I will say that the one I am most proud of and my personal favourite is “Aarav’s Ascension”)
DP: Yes, I liked that one too (I liked them all obviously!). Did you have to do much research when writing the stories?
BD: Yes, I did a lot of research if I lacked knowledge on certain aspects of a scene. The motivation to nail a dramatic beat or hammer the beginning or ending is the only thing that pulls me through the slog of Mr. Google data mining. The slog is important though, especially for historical fiction.
DP: It is – having writing a couple of period drama scripts (and I’m in the middle of two as we speak) I know that it can be a slog at times, but so important! What would you say was your biggest creative success to date?
BD: I would say the biggest success, no matter the case, is becoming intoxicated with the art I am creating, losing a sense of reality, and becoming wholly and fully transported to a different world in my conscious. Success in writing for me is gauged by how much I enjoyed the actual writing process/experience of a particular story/chapter/scene, etc. There are stories I have published that I feel are inferior in that regard to stories I haven’t published due to the different writing experiences I had with them.
DP: Interesting and again I agree from my own personal writing experience. What would you say draws readers into our genre?
BD: I can’t speak for everyone, but what I think most readers like about the horror genre is slow building tension as you progress to the end of the story and the sense that something very bad is going to happen, but it is not totally obvious what that thing is, or when it’s going to occur. It’s great when the ending you have in your mind is totally different from the author’s. (And their ending still works!)
DP: It does! Okay, final question. For you is writing a long or short term career?
BD: I would say it is not a any kind of a “career” for me but more of a “lifelong, spiritually fulfilling hobby” at the moment. If it pans out into something bigger than I imagine, that would be great. If not, that’s ok too. In the end, I just want to look back and see that I’ve created works that I am proud of.
What a great place to finish.
Thank you for your time Benjamin and the best of luck with Hunger And Other Dark Tales.
If you would like to connect with Benjamin direct:
We welcome Alyson Faye back to DEMAIN with her horror novelette The Night Visitor, published as an ebook 31st March. The cover design is by Adrian Baldwin; the cover image by Dark Artist, Roberto Segate. Early 2023, Dean and Aly sat down and talked.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Aly, happy new year to you – welcome back. Hope everything is going okay with you. So, you’re no stranger to these interviews – let’s go for it: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how / why you became a writer.
ALYSON FAYE: Hi! Yes – of course: I loved stories, in books, and films; consumed books by the bucketload growing up and dreamed of telling stories which would one day be read by others.
DP: Do you think your background influenced you as a writer?
AF: I’ve had a few jobs over the years, but often they’ve involved working with children or young people - teaching literacy and sharing my love for reading and stories.
DP: Which nicely brings me to your first introduction to the fantasy/horror genre…
AF: Yes, it was probably Penelope Lively’s ‘The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy’ aged about 7 or 8.
DP: Wow. An early starter. SO, your novelette:
AF: It’s set in the super sweltering British summer of 1976, one I well remember, in a small town, like the suburb I grew up in. It entwines history, myth, folklore, archival research, a showdown at a hilltop caravan site, a madman who creates a monster, a strange plague, a night army, and a coming of age story thrown in too. Yes, we’re talking … vampires.
DP: Personally I really loved it, well up my street – it reminded me of some great novels as I read as a kid. You mentioned ‘Wild Hunt’ but were there any other influences…
AF: I love a good Gothic mystery, like the ones Rhiannon Ward, Anita Frank, Sally Hinchcliffe, Alison Littlewood and Carly Reagan write.
DP: Some great names. Let’s think about this – what does horror (or even fantasy) mean to you?
AF: Escapism, experiencing the shudder down our spine at a safe distance, digesting our fears so the dark is a bit less scary. A damn good thrill.
DP: Definitely! Is there any (horror) book or film that’s coming out that you’re particularly looking forward to:
AF: I watch a LOT of horror films :- just in the last few weeks -Blood/There’s Something Wrong with the Children/Barbarian (the AirB&B rental from hell)/Eight for Silver (werewolves)/ Smile/Watcher/ anything by Jordan Peele/ or Blumhouse like Meghan the AI doll one, which I loved.
DP: I’ve heard some great things about Barbarian and Meghan so better find some time to watch them. Is there a new writer (or director) that interests you-
AF: Several female directors working in shorts and films lately are coming out with some innovative and interesting work like the director of Watcher, Chloe Okuno; I do tend to follow female film makers careers.
DP: I don’t think I’ve seen Watcher – better add that to the list. Okay, time’s short today, so final question: could you tell us something a little surprising about you-
AF: I’ve been a singer in am-dram musicals, micro-lighted, driven four by fours for a hobby, and flown a small aircraft over Jersey.
DP – Wow, you learn something new every day!!!!
The best of luck Alyson with The Night Visitor.
If you’d like to connect with Alyson Faye direct:
Facebook – as Aly Rhodes
Dean M. Drinkel