25 May 2018

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Author Interview / Ben Archer (Red Sky Rising)


Humanity’s gone. Sure, people are still wandering around in these soulless husks, but all the beauty inside -love and compassion- has long since died. Our divided world has become nothing more than a trophy to mankind’s failure. And all Hayden Flynn wants is to be left alone. However, when the first pureblood vampire in 600 years rises from the ashes, he realizes it could always be worse.
...much worse.

Now, toeing the line between the living and dead, Hayden will use his elevated senses to prepare for the ultimate hunt. Salvation of our entire species will rest on the shoulders of one man and the seemingly innocent girl that crosses his path. Is it destiny or divine intervention that brought them together? Either way, Hayden Flynn and Quinn Merrin will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means leaving a path of bodies and blood in their wake. Because, after all, what price is too high for salvation?




AUTHOR INTERVIEW


1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Hands down it would have to be Stephen King. I know its cliché, but I honestly do consider him the defining author of my generation. Plus his character development is beyond what we ordinary humans should be capable of. The way he engrains all these tiny little details into every single person is astonishing! I always walk away from his novels with a profound connection to even the most inconsequential character. Take my favorite, “The Stand,” where you have countless people
interacting in this imaginary world, yet all of them have their own well-defined place in it. Each one has a unique personality, motivation, and even musical preference! His novels, to me, are so horrific because I connect so deeply with the artificial reality he’s painstakingly built.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
A typical writing day for me would actually be a writing night. As a husband and a parent to busy 14 year old twins (Hi Morgan, Kylea, and Colin!), I try to enjoy the times we have together as a family. So the hours between 9 and midnight when everyone is asleep are usually my most productive. Though I try to fit it in whenever possible.  
As to where I write: the story is generally constructed in my head when I’m going to bed at night, while the words are actually written anywhere my laptop will fit. Like, the Golden Gate Bridge scene was written on a plane to LA, the Glass Castle was written while watching my kids jump on the trampoline, the casino scene was inspired by a recent trip to our local casino with my good friend, and inspiration for “Muffin’s Shake Shop,” Cory Stout. However, most of it is simply written on the couch with a good cup of coffee and MST3K on the television. This also explains the vast amount of MST3K characters scattered throughout the book.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Actually translating the story in my head to a blank page. It’s easy to have these characters running around in your mind, but actually fleshing them out (in a coherent way) is much harder than it seems. I feel bad for my poor wife having to read the first 5 or 6 versions that were basically me spitting out a word jumble of crazy concepts. Those were done way before I ever figured out how to connect them together in a meaningful way. It was kind of like a crossword puzzle where the pieces were just kind of shoved together. I had the passion, but not the complete picture of how these two characters would fit in my imaginary world, yet. There were several times I had to completely rewrite entire chapters because I had been writing Quinn with the personality of Hayden. It took a while to really understand who she was and what makes her so drastically different. You know, her motivations. I mean she’s 17 and he’s 203, so it stands to reason they would respond to situations differently. For example, he was traumatized by the loss of his family to creatures like him --vampires. That’s a kind of self-loathing that he can never escape. And since she was born after the war, all she’s ever known has been the tyranny of her restrictive Colony. While he’s capable of longing for the freedom of days gone by, she’s not even able to understand the concept. 

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
There’s a two-fold reason for that:
1)      I grew up reading the comics my father wrote in the 70’s before I was born. Although most were just goofy little indie comics made for anyone who would read them, some ended up being picked up by major publishers; including Marvel. I actually had the pleasure of meeting the artist who did his “Sword of Dragonus” series, Frank Brunner, last year while working with Marvel myself. Frank went on to have an amazing career with legendary runs on Doctor Strange, Conan, Howard the Duck, and much more. It was a surreal experience to chat with this man who had had such an impact on my childhood, yet only met through his artwork. I gratefully look back on the poetic symmetry of how this part of my life eventually came full circle.  
2)      The second reason is, quite simply, I turned 30. Not in like an early mid-life crisis kind of way… I guess I took the advice that “everyone should write a book” a little too seriously. And now I see why! You absolutely learn so much about yourself! It was amazing to blend so many life experiences and people I’ve known throughout the years into these fantastic characters. Hayden’s non-stop, talking without ever saying anything, is mainly my son. Although, since my son is a lot like me, maybe Hayden is like me by default? I’m not sure about that part, but I am totally sure Quinn is based on my teenage daughter- with all the attitude firmly still attached. I enjoyed playing on the dynamics of how they interact with each other because even though they are like oil and vinegar most of the time, there’s an unspoken bond permanently linking them together.   

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I honestly just wanted to create something that defied the tropes that have become so commonplace in modern pop culture: everything is written in three acts, there’s always a hero waiting to save the day, the bomb always counts down to :01 before it’s defused, and the home team always wins. Well, they don’t. I like the idea that –just as in real life- bad things happen randomly. In our own lives, everything goes great, until it suddenly isn’t anymore! Life doesn’t wait until your safety net is in place. It doesn’t care who’s around to witness your downfall. Many of the tragedies that happen to Hayden and Quinn occur by chance, not necessarily as a direct result of their actions. Just like life. Your tire didn’t go flat this morning to drive a story along, it blew because it found an extra sharp rock. Yet, somehow, all these arbitrary experiences add up to guide us down the road we’re supposed to be on. It’s this delicate balancing act of order and anarchy that truly makes our lives into a beautiful symphony of chaos.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I was a big reader as a kid. I can’t even tell you how many times I read “The Call of the Wild” (hence the title of the first chapter) and the entire “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Comic books, of course, were certainly a HUGE part of my youth. The golden era that was 90’s comics formed much of how I turned out as a writer. I mean, what the X-Men were doing perfectly reflected the divisions in our world and unquestionably influenced the perpetual outsider complex that I later instilled in my own characters. As I grew those evolved into a love for all things Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. So yeah, put X-Men and horror writers in a blender, sprinkle with a pinch of Richard Pryor, and that’s pretty much how I hope to write.

These days I mainly do audio books. Working in Television allows a lot of travel time, so I throw Audible on the iPhone and get lost in some fantastical world. I mainly stick to the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror because I treat books as a form of escapism. They’re a way to fly out of my body and become someone else for just a little while. My good friend, Megan Tarbett, has recently gotten me into the Harry Potter series. And yes, I know I’m probably the last one to arrive at that particular party. I was already a fan of the films but she’s like my Librarian Sherpa guiding me through all things classic, so I knew it was finally time to jump aboard that flying bandwagon.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Yes, surround yourself with people who believe in you, more than you do. Artists are fragile creatures and if you’re anything like me then your art is deeply personal. Whether it’s painting, sculpture, video, or print, we all choose to publicly display these hidden pieces of ourselves to a world that has no attachment to us. Especially as an unknown author! The benefit of being able to market yourself directly to the public is also its biggest drawback. Keyboard cowboys of our modern culture will tear your work apart just for fun! They’ll troll you simply because they can. Because it’s funny. They don’t care what that art means to you. They don’t know how many hours or (like me) years you’ve put into it. But I’ll tell you why I choose to do it anyway. Because riches will come and go, but art is forever. Do we look back on all the wealthy people in history? No, we remember those who added to our culture through idea, innovation, or art. We remember Leonardo for his “Mona Lisa” and Shakespeare for his “Hamlet.” Do you care who the richest person in 1874 was? Probably not. The idea that long after I’m gone, some kid in 2454 will pick up a copy of Red Sky and become emotionally engaged when Quinn’s parents are murdered by giant man bats –as silly as that concept is- is priceless =)   



Pricing is $.99 or Free with Kindle Unlimited 

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