I invited author, Tom Benson to give us an insight about his latest anthology, Next Steps: and other stories. Here it is. Welcome to this site, Tom.
I’m a multi-genre author who enjoys various writing disciplines, and I’ve found that ideas for short stories are never far away. Combined with this, of course, is the opportunity to create another collection. I understand how difficult it is for indie authors like me to capture and increase an audience. With this in mind, I created my first ‘invitation’ anthology, and ‘Next Steps’is the third of this type.
What came to mind when you saw the title of this article?
Perhaps like many people, you thought of progression in some form, or was that a fleeting idea cast aside as you considered the graphic and the book title?
‘Next Steps: and other stories’is the full title of…
Hey horror fans, check out the interview and insider info into Halloween Land with Kevin J Kennedy. And for those who aren’t familiar with his name, you really want to stay tuned and see why you need to be. Don’t forget to grab your copy today!
Hi Kevin,can you share with us something about Halloween Land that isn’t in the blurb?
Part of me still lives in the 80s and the 90s. The book will appeal to others who feel the same. Movie buffs and gamers will catch some nods that others wont. It’s an undercurrent that runs through the book and different people will pick up on different things.
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
The cats and dogs in the book are my three cats in real life and the wee Pomeranian was my wee dog that passed away. He lived to 15.
Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?
They started to move quickly through the now creepy-looking stalls, steeped in shadows, making the carnival appear as if it had been abandoned for years. Suddenly three shapes stepped out in front of them. Wendy let out a gasp, and they both stopped in their tracks. In front of them stood three clowns, Wendy’s worst nightmare. More terrifying for her was that each of these clowns had a carved pumpkin for a face — not make-up to look like a pumpkin — but what actually seemed to be a moving, living, (possibly breathing) pumpkin face. Their mouths were carved exactly as they would be on a pumpkin carved for Halloween, except Wendy and Zak could tell that their teeth were razor sharp. Zak grabbed Wendy’s hand and started running, pulling her with him. They ducked between stalls and rides, moving as fast as they could while trying not to trip on all the electrical cables that were running along the ground. As they moved, they could hear a strained, guttural laughing that sounded like it was coming from the roofs of the stalls above and behind them. As the kids came out between one of the burger bars and a novelty shop, they were both panting hard. Knowing they couldn’t keep running, Wendy looked around for somewhere to hide.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Difficult one. The main characters are youngsters, and I don’t really know any young actors. I’d have Isla Fisher play the crazy clown lady.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
I had initially written a short story for one of my early Halloween Anthos. It was about 7000 words. It got mentioned in a lot of reviews and a few people suggested I make it longer. It was even compared to Richard Laymon’s works and he was one of my favourite authors. I started the process of extending it and several times I hit roadblocks. A few times I scraped huge sections but once I got it right in my head it flowed easily.
What was the highlight of writing this book?
Finishing it. Lol. No, I think the highlight was getting to put lots of little personal nods to stuff I love in it. I sometimes put them in short stories, but you can only squeeze one or two in depending on length. I could do more with this without it having a negative effect on the story
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote The Tale of Sawney Bean when I was 35. It was basically a long, short. I don’t think it was long enough to be a bonified novella. It’s no longer in publication. It was badly written, but I learned a lot by doing that book.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read a lot. I enjoy watching movies or box sets with my wife. I like to chill with my cats and spend time with my mum. I lead a fairly simple life. I know what I enjoy and try to spend as much time as possible doing it.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
1 solo novella, 3 co-written novellas and probably over 100 short stories. Halloween Land is my favourite right now but mainly because it’s my longest solo work and it’s my newest release. Ask me in a few weeks and I’d likely give a different answer.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
Just keep writing and reading. The more you write, you’ll naturally get better and with reading you start to pay attention to how other writers deal with certain things and can add to your bag of tricks.
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Start writing sooner. I was always a reader. Never really thought about writing but I wish I had started at a younger age.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Covers and editors. I do believe covers sell books and editing matters. If a book is a mess, I will never finish it.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Savage by Richard Laymon & Blood Crazy by Simon Clark. They are both superb but I hardly ever see them pop up in reader groups on Facebook. I could list a load but those are two of my faves.
What does literary success look like to you?
Going full time as a writer, publisher. Basically, working in the book world full time. I don’t care if it’s in a mixture of rolls.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Fitting it in. I tend to do so many Anthos that I struggle for time and having a day job means you are tired at night. I do what I can but I’d love to have time on my side.
What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
The first antho I put together was done at almost no cost. I started paying from book 2 but I didn’t have any money. I just felt I could put a better book together than a lot of the stuff that was coming out. That was Collected Christmas Horror Shorts. The book done better than I could have ever expected. It took the number 1 spot on the charts for months and even managed to hit first place on it’s second year-round at Christmas time.
What got you into creating anthologies? And what do you enjoy most about that process?
I like that I get to read stories by my favourite authors before anyone else does. A few years ago, I was just another reader and now people drop me a message saying they have a new story available and what do I have going. It’s mental. I’ve built up a good relationship with a lot of authors over the years and now it’s more like giving one of my friends a shout and running an idea by them. More often than not, they are in.
Do you have another one in the works?
I have The Horror Collection Ruby Edition almost finished and The Horror Collection Extreme Edition underway. I am in the middle of co-writing 2 novellas and a 4th solo collection called the A to Z of Horror. I also have a few shorts to write for other publisher’s anthologies. Never a dull moment.
What are you planning next?
Apart from all the stuff that is in the works already, I will likely write a linked novella to Halloween Land soonish.
Thank you for sharing with us today Kevin.
Fans, grab your copy of Halloween Land today! New readers, don’t stop there, check out his vast collection of books. And writers be sure to get your pencil’s sharpened for the next creepy call from Kevin.
Being an independent author gives us the freedom to do as we please. Of course the ultimate goal is to gain readers, reviews, and respect among our peers (and make money).
However it is also allowing me to showcase the artwork of an extremely talented local youth. Had my new book gone to a publisher, this would not be accepted. It also happened by chance.
How did it all come about?
My draft for Unfamiliar Territory, a kids chapter book, was handed off to a co-worker’s niece just for fun. He’s bragged about her drawings in the past. After she received the book he asked if she could make some art for the book. I said yes, that would be great. It’s a good feeling to know that my words inspired her imagination. And then he showed me images of what she was creating and I was blown away. This girl’s talent is stunning.
I don’t want to give away all the pictures in the book, so here is one teaser.
And all this makes holding the paperback even more enjoyable. Check out, Unfamiliar Territory on Amazon today.
About the artist: Victoria is 14, she enjoys art and anything to do with literature. She likes coffee way too much to be healthy and is a night owl who hates mornings. She’s passionate about music, it’s her main source of inspiration and would rather live in a fictional world where she can own a sword.
Be open to looking for youth to support and inspire and be proud to be indie.