Dave Benton interview

David Benton is the author of the ecological horror novel FAUNA. If you like the idea of a modern twist on all those creature stories from the late 70s and early 80s, then you’re sure to love FAUNA. I couldn’t put it down. Questions by Jack Bantry.

What gave you the idea for FAUNA?

Many years ago – in the mid-nineties – I was at the local zoo with my older daughter, and there was this jerk – a real “Jersey Shore” type, gold chains, wife-beater – jangling his keys against the glass of the mandrill enclosure. A mandrill looks kind of like a baboon, with a colorful muzzle. Anyhow, he was jangling his keys and the mandrill was enraged, and all these people had gathered around and they were all having a great laugh about how mad this monkey was… and I was thinking, if there wasn’t two inch thick glass between him and that mandrill, that guy would be pissing himself in fear. I think that incident was my initial prompt to write FAUNA. Obviously it took a long time for that seed to germinate.

It’s a great concept and potentially an awesome way for the human race to become extinct. Do you foresee a sequel?

I’m not planning on a sequel at this time. I have too many ideas and not enough time to flesh them all out. I don’t want to get stuck rehashing the same thing over and over. I agree that it would be an awesome way for humanity to meet its end though. Poetic really. There’s little doubt that we have it coming.

FAUNA is your first novel, you’ve previously collaborated numerous times with WD Gagliani. Is this the first time you’ve written fiction on your own? How was the experience?

I had been writing short stories for a number of years before I met W.D. In fact, we work-shopped for a long while before we began writing collaboratively. When I started FAUNA I was very conscious of the fact that I had never tried to work on a piece of this length. Much of the novel’s structure (the three prong narrative, the quick back-and-forth between scenes) was in response to me being accustomed to working on much shorter pieces. I didn’t view FAUNA as one long story while I was working on it. Instead I looked at it as two novellas, a long short, and several short stories. I think this made it easier to swallow. The experience was great. I think I learned a lot about the process and hope to be able to put that newfound knowledge to work on the next piece.

Do you write when you’re on the road with the band, or at home? What’s your writing process?

I do almost all of my writing at home. Being out on the road isn’t very conducive to the introspective nature of the task. I have tried it in the past and most of what I ended up with had to be discarded. That being said, neither of the bands I’m currently playing with work consistently. They tend to have a flurry of activity and then long periods of dormancy. So, I do my fiction writing in the musical down time.

How do you go about collaborating?  I’ve collaborated a few times myself. Sometimes we start with a paragraph or a chapter and pass it back a forth without knowing exactly where it’s going. Other times we’ve had a story that for some reason didn’t work and we’ve reworked it etc. How does collaborating work for you and Bill?

Bill and have been writing collaboratively for over ten years now and in that time we’ve tried a number of different techniques. We’ve handed it back-and-forth every thousand words (give or take). We’ve split stories where one of us takes the present tense scenes and the other takes the past tense scenes. We’ve written stories where one of us writes one character’s POV and the other writes the other character’s POV. Most often we discuss what we want to do, I write a detailed synopsis – basically a very rough first draft, and then Bill comes behind me and fills out the manuscript adding scenes as he sees fit. No matter how we do it, afterwards we each take a pass through the entire manuscript to make sure our styles are meshed into a single cohesive voice.

Where do the ideas come from?

LOL. They’re a byproduct of rampant drug and alcohol consumption. I’m pretty sure most of them are stolen. Maybe not consciously stolen, but stolen nonetheless. Maybe I should say borrowed from the communal consciousness.

You’re writing KILLER LAKE (again, with Bill), a part was included in the SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK antho. What stage are you at with the novel? How did the story come about and what were the Influences? Any news on publisher and release date?

KILLER LAKE is finished! And Bill and I are pleased to announce that it’s been placed with Deadite Press. We’re thrilled to be joining the Deadite family, home to some of our favorite authors. KILLER LAKE is an homage to the splatter punk genre and a tip of the hat to some of our favorite horror films and novels of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Maybe more of a send-up really. A loving one. This novel is a lot of fun and I think horror fans are really going to enjoy it. The story is jam packed with disparate horror tropes blended into what we hope is one seamless storyline. It’s very entertaining. If you enjoyed our contribution to the FIGHTING BACK anthology keep your eyes open for KILLER LAKE, coming from Deadite Press in 2019.

Anything else in the pipeline?

I’m currently picking at my sophomore effort. It should be much more psychological than the action packed FAUNA. It’s a story of reincarnation and bad karma, featuring a serial killer and a man who suffers from vivid hallucinations. Or maybe they aren’t hallucinations? And the all-original rock band I play in, CHIEF, is working a two LP concept album about the age-old struggle between good and evil. I expect that the next couple of years will be busy and rewarding.

You recently attended Killercon, how was the experience?

Really enjoyable. Not only was I able to meet the editors from Deadite and Eraserhead Press, who Bill and I will be working with on KILLER LAKE, but I had the great honor of accepting the first ever Splatterpunk Award for best anthology on the behalf of some very deserving editors who were unable to attend. I also had the opportunity to talk to (and spill drinks on) some legends in the field. Not to mention all of the alcohol consumed, cowboy hats purchased, and barbeque eaten. Most importantly I left inspired to write!