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The Scariest Part: Ben Eads Talks About CRACKED SKY


Welcome to this week’s installment of The Scariest Part, a recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. (If you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, please review the guidelines here.)

My guest is Ben Eads, whose latest publication is the novella Cracked Sky. Here is the publisher’s description:

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 lies trapped with The Lost Ones — something is using Stephen and Shelley’s agony to fulfill its goals: Terrorize. Consume. Destroy.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Ben Eads:

Getting into the headspace of the characters in my novella, Cracked Sky, was by far the scariest part. Stephen and Shelley Morrison lost their only child in a car wreck thanks to a drunk driver. I don’t have any children of my own. At best, I could only imagine the pain they carried. Getting into the headspace of these poor souls was depressing and scary. The main theme of the novella is loss. In this case, a horrific loss of the highest magnitude.

So, the only emotion I could use as an anchor was what I felt after losing my job in mid-2008, during the biggest financial crisis we’ve seen since the stock market crash of the 1920s. Unable to find work, I lost both my house and my car. A dear friend committed suicide only a few months later. But there was something deeper, uglier: The antagonist who caused the car crash, Darrell Peakman.

It’s amazing what happens to people when they suffer a tragic loss. Sometimes, it could be something insignificant that sets them on the path to becoming a monster. Sadly, we see this on the news on a weekly basis. Darrell Peakman exemplifies the worst case scenario. He also lost his daughter, and will do whatever it takes to reunite with her, even if that means murdering people — and children — to get there. For him, death is just a barrier to be breached.

I spent a lot more time on Darrell than I did my main characters. To a certain degree, I had to be able to sympathize with Darrell. The last thing I wanted was to shortchange the reader. It got to the point where I had to find a healthy balance. After spending time in Darrell’s head, I would watch a comedy or take a nice jog around my neighborhood. Still, I couldn’t escape how Darrell justified these horrific acts.

Real-life monsters, once they start… just keep getting worse. The wreck and reuniting with Darrell’s daughter was just the beginning. He blames the world for what happened. Darrell feels justified in laying waste to the world — a world that he feels doesn’t deserve love. If you were to ask Darrell if he were evil, his response would be laughter. Hitler, Stalin, and Pot didn’t think they were evil. Quite the opposite. They felt what they were doing was the right thing, the only answer to a “problem” they couldn’t shake.

Darrell found a key, a way to reunite with his daughter in a nightmare world reflecting his worst traits and fears. But was that enough for Darrell to be happy? No. So he finds his anchor, his answer to what he sees as a problem, in Stephen and Shelley Morrison. He uses their grief, pain, and suffering to not only fulfill his goals, but to assure himself he’s not alone. More importantly, Darrell needs to feel — as his plan comes closer to fruition — that he’s morally correct and that his moral compass is working just fine.

For me, supernatural horror that’s driven by deep emotions and infused with real-life horror is the most frightening kind of horror. What Stephen and Shelley Morrison are forced to face is this human being who becomes a monster — literally and figuratively — and that’s the scariest part.

Ben Eads: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Cracked Sky: Amazon / Goodreads

Ben Eads lives within the semi-tropical suburbs of Central Florida. A true horror writer by heart, he wrote his first story at the tender age of ten. The look on the teacher’s face when she read it was priceless. However, his classmates loved it! Ben has had short stories published in various magazines such as Shroud Magazine and The Ashen Eye. He also has a short story appearing in the anthology Tales From The Lake Volume 2, which will be published by Crystal Lake Publishing in mid-2015. When he isn’t writing, he dabbles in martial arts, philosophy and specializes in I.T. security. He’s always looking to find new ways to infect reader’s imaginations. Ben blames Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft, Jorge Luis Borges, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, and Stephen King for his addiction, and his need to push the envelope of fiction.

What Is My Superpower?

The Skiffy and Fanty Show is a popular weekly fan podcast run by two science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. They also have a fun website and blog with a regular guest column where authors talk about what their superpower is. Not what they wish it was — like flying, invisibility, Wolverine claws, etc. — but what it actually is. As you might imagine, a lot of authors talk about their superpower being a way with words, a mastery of metaphor, or an ability to completely lock out the world while they write.

Not mine. When Skiffy and Fanty asked me to write about my superpower, I took a different tack. My guest column is up on their site now. Here’s a teaser:

It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly which of my innate mutant abilities is my true superpower. Is it my unerring talent for arriving on the subway platform at the exact moment the train I need is pulling away? Is it my almost creepy aptitude in recalling all manner of trivia related to Doctor Who, the classic series? (Go on, ask me who knit the Fourth Doctor’s scarf, or why the Fifth Doctor keeps a stalk of celery on his lapel, or how Davros lost his only remaining functioning hand. I dare you. How many hours do you have?) Or perhaps my superpower is actually a curse in the form of a last name that is almost constantly misspelled, sometimes even in print by professional publications.

Click through the check out the column and see what I chose as my superpower. The answer may surprise you! (Or not. I don’t really know you that well.)

“Nicholas Kaufmann Double-shot!”

Mike Ferrante over at King of the Nerds!!! has some very nice things to say about the Trent series in a double-review of Dying Is My Business and Die and Stay Dead, including this lovely bit:

Kaufmann once again demonstrates an adept ability to insert wonderful character-driven moments into the middle of huge epic scenes of magic and mayhem. All in all Die and Stay Dead doubles down on the action of the first novel going so far as to end on a bit of a cliffhanger that seems to promise a third novel that pulls out all of the stops. If you are looking for a new urban fantasy series to try I highly recommend giving Nicholas Kaufmann’s Trent novels a shot. I can’t wait to see how events play out in the third novel.

It turns out Mike is also a big fan of Chasing the Dragon, which is pretty cool:

I first encountered Nicholas Kaufmann’s fiction reading Chasing the Dragon a wonderful novella put out by the fine folks over at Chizine; it’s a wonderful little fantasy allegory about addiction that I highly highly recommend.

You know, I love hearing what readers think of my books, and to be honest I wish more readers would blog or post their thoughts about them. I know they won’t all be as positive as Mike’s, but often we authors feel like we’re just sending books out into the void with no idea if they’re resonating with readers or not. So it’s nice to hear about it when people enjoy our books. It reminds us why we’re doing this in the first place.

Home Improvement

This wingback chair has been in my wife’s family for generations, but it was left rotting in her parent’s basement for years. We decided to take it for our apartment, even though it was in really bad condition, as you can see:


After a longer amount of time than I care to admit, we finally saw about getting it repaired and reupholstered. You may recall we upholstered our loveseat ourselves, but this was going to be a much bigger and more complicated job. We needed professionals. We contacted a top of the line company and it cost an arm and a leg, but it was absolutely worth it. Delivered back to us this morning, the chair looks brand new:


Of course, we didn’t even get a chance to sit in it yet before this happened:


It was a race to get that towel down in time! It’s not to keep cat hair off the chair, by the way. That war was lost the second the chair entered our apartment. No, the towel is to keep the cats from scratching the cushion. We’re not even sure they will, but it’s a better-safe-than-sorry measure. The towel will soon be replaced by an actual cat bed for when we’re not at home.

Anyway, because Galapagos got to sit in the chair, Olympia had to have her turn, too:


I look forward to sitting in the chair myself at some point.