Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010). Beyond that he’s written several collaborations with Michael Louis Calvillo, one of which is a novella called UGLY SPIRIT, available in 2011. He also wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film.” Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin’s defending California’s waterways and sewers from pollution. Say hi and drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @bkethridge, or facebook him at www.facebook.com/benjamin.kane.ethridge
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Benjamin. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
A: For short stories, I’ve multi-published. I also have a novel out too.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
A: The Favored One. It wasn’t published. I wrote it in middle school, primarily because I wanted to see if I could write an entire novel. It was a bizarre story about a kid who takes over the world.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
A: I’d submitted to only a few places before I got asked to submit to a small press publisher, which paid me royalties. So with my first novel I didn’t have to go through the query process as much as some, but I had plenty of rejections from previous efforts.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
A: It varied from publisher to publisher. If it was huge publisher, I knew I had a slim chance it would even be considered, so those didn’t sting. But when I found a smaller publisher who fit my book perfectly, only to find “it wasn’t quite right for them at this time,” that was far more difficult to stomach. I also enjoy how they throw out that, “of course you know these things are subjective,” which is of course a different way for them to hold their nose and kick kitty litter over your manuscript. The best way to process these types of disappointments is to recognize when a form letter makes a vague judgment of your work, the chance your work hasn’t been considered in full is largely possible. And if it has been considered with a modicum of fairness, then I can only blame myself for not delivering.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
A: I was published with a great small press company called Bad Moon Books. They’ve won awards and had a great following of readers, including myself.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
A: I consider this one of my failings because I just never felt the emotions I’d hoped for. I went straight into business mode as soon as it happened. I wish I would have basked a little more. You only get a first time once, after all. But then again you only get a second time and third time once also, so maybe I’ll try elation later.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
A: I put together a contest. It was ill-conceived and didn’t attract as much attention as I intended. This is why some people do this stuff for a living and others don’t. Ha!
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
A: Not at all. I’ve won the Bram Stoker award and gained a following of readers. My work is out there now. It’s a crazy time for publishing but I’m happy to say I’ve published something that somebody else wanted to take a chance on, and it paid off for us both.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
A: I had a short story come out in an anthology called Ante Mortem. I have other things lined up, but this past year had me more focused on writing new novels and promoting the one I already have out.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
A: I should have joined the writing community sooner. Being an island may work fine for some writers, but making a network and connecting with others brings opportunities of all types. And also you meet people you have many things in common with and commiserate and learn from them. It’s all gold.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
A: Bram Stoker Award
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A: Well I do have another profession. It is in environmental compliance, and I love it.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
A: Combo! Best of both.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
A: Fatter, uglier and with more books published.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
A: Don’t ever believe you’ll reach a point of complete contentedness. In fact, being a writer means being less than content, and that’s good, because it’s better for your work to show some measure of desperation.