Ben Wolf is an freelance editor and the editor-in-chief for the flash fiction magazine, Splickety, by day and a speculative and action/adventure novelist by night. Geeks Under Grace interviewed Wolf to bring you insight on his writing, faith, geekiness and debut novel Blood for Blood released October 30, 2014.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be an author and how long have you been writing professionally?
Ben: I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I read Frank Peretti’s novel The Oath, which is still my favorite book of all-time. I must have read it a half-dozen times, if not more. That was back in the mid-90s.
I launched my creative writing career in 7th grade when I wrote a parody of the movie Congo that featured murderous kangaroos instead of gorillas. That manuscript is safe and will likely never see the light of day.
Q. Can you tell us a little about Blood for Blood and what inspired it?
Ben: Blood for Blood is the story of what might happen if a vampire got saved. It’s a tightly-paced action/adventure story with a decent amount of humor and a solid romance thread mixed in.
I hijacked the idea for the book from a friend of mine named Matt Sheehy. (Matt gets most of the credit, but honorable mention goes to my dad for coming up with the title and to Julie Gwinn, my agent and editor, for helping me shape the story early on.) We were at a writers conference in Denver and he suggested that it would be funny if a vampire got saved and had to help out at tent revivals where they used big tent stakes to secure the tent to the ground.
The irony of that imagery struck me and several plot points jumped into my head involving classic vampire taboos like garlic, holy items (like crosses and Bibles), crossing flowing bodies of water, mirrors, and sunlight. I eventually asked Matt for permission to write and proceed with publishing the novel, and, with his blessing (and endorsement), I filled in a plot around those plot points and wrote Blood for Blood.
Q. Who is your favorite character in Blood for Blood and why?
Ben: I could make a strong case for most of them, both the villains and the heroes, but in the end, I like Luco Zambini, the evangelist, the most, I think. He is resolute, loving, and determined to help Raven (the vampire) establish a real relationship with God. He’s also a great father and husband. Even though he’s not perfect, he embodies everything I aspire to as a Christian man.
Q. Are there any other authors whom you look up to or draw inspiration from?
Ben: As I alluded to above, I’m a huge fan of Frank Peretti. I’ve also come to appreciate Robert Liparulo’s work very much, as well as Tosca Lee’s novels, both for different reasons. I think Tosca’s work should be required reading for any novelist who wants to write better prose, and Robert’s work should be required for any action/adventure/thriller author because he understands pacing so well.
Q. What is a day in the life of a writer like? Do you set a certain quota to complete each day? Do you have any specific rituals or patterns that aid your work?
Ben: I wish I could tell you what the day-to-day life of a writer looks like! I often find my time so divided amongst the things that demand my attention that I don’t have (or actively make) time to write. In addition to trying to write, I freelance edit full-time and run Splickety Publishing Group which publishes three flash fiction magazines, four issues per year each.
That said, I go through periods of hyper-productivity with my writing. I wish I could write more consistently, and I’m working on that, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Ideally, I would write one or two months and finish a book, take a month off and edit something that I wrote before the previous month, and then write for another one or two months and repeat that cycle four times per year.
When I do write, I’m usually cognizant of how much I write and I love setting and meeting quotas, but I don’t often track them in a spreadsheet anymore. I used to, and maybe I ought to still, but it’s just another thing I have to keep track of, so I don’t anymore. I’m a nerd and like to analyze my word count stats so I can brag to my writing friends about it, but that takes up more time too—time that I could be writing.
Q. As an author of Christian speculative fiction, specifically, what are the biggest difficulties you have? How has God helped you overcome these difficulties?
Ben: The biggest difficulty for me as a Christian author of speculative fiction author is finding and reaching an audience for my work. I have some ideas that are organically Christian, but some of my ideas are quite secular, so I’m aiming primarily to reach general market readers instead of Christian ones. It’s a challenge I’m confident I’ll overcome as God has continually given me opportunities to interact with potential readers and to share my work with them. I expect He will continue to do so.
The next biggest difficulty would be that I’ve got ideas that sway very secular and don’t have any noticeable measure of faith-based content in them. That can get tricky as I’m writing. I have to decide what content I will show to the reader (and some of it is graphic because we live in a very real world where bad things happen) and what I won’t. Finding and maintaining that line can be tough, but it’s part of what makes writing so interesting to me.
Q. Freelance editing is your day job so how does that connect with your writing? Do you think editing has helped you become a better writer?
Ben: Editing is the best possible job I could have to develop my writing skills aside from writing full-time. Because of my editing, I’ve read a bunch of great books and had the opportunity to assess them objectively and make and suggest changes.
Editing is the whetstone that sharpens my writing—I learn best by doing, and editing is as close to writing as it gets without actually writing. When I started editing several years ago, I rapidly improved as a writer, and I find that I’m still improving as a result of it with every new project I take on.
Q. Since you are also the Editor-In-Chief for Splickety, can you tell us a little about the magazines?
Ben: Certainly. Splickety Publishing Group publishes three flash fiction magazines: HavokMagazine for speculative fiction readers, Splickety Love for romance readers, and Splickety Prime for everything else. Flash fiction is a term used to describe short stories of 1,000 words or less, and that’s what you’ll find—exclusively—in Splickety’s magazines. We’re always looking for new stories and new authors, so check out our website for more information on how to submit.
Q. Do you have any future projects in the works? Can you tell us a little about them?
Ben: Absolutely. In 2015, I want to finish my YA fantasy series (two books to edit, one to finish writing, and then I have to edit that one), write a totally separate novel that also involves undead creatures, and resurrect work on a graphic novel series that I’m working on with some friends.
With regard to publishing, I’m also planning to publish a kids’ book, a collaborative novel with my critique group, and the other undead book I mentioned in the previous paragraph—if it’s ready.
Q. Because Geeks Under Grace is a Christ-centered website that focuses on all things geek, we have to ask: Do you have any favorite videogames, movies, novels or other geeky media?
Ben: I am a big fan of the Super Smash Bros. series of video games and I’m pretty unstoppable (though I have been bested by professionals at tournaments). I love Star Wars, both Marvel and DC Comics, and vampires that don’t sparkle.
You can often find me sword-fighting with my friends at writers conferences (or on my front lawn), and I like action movies where things blow up. I’ll admit this, too: I’m a Pokémon fan. I’ve played several of the games and I’m always up for a good challenge there, so if you think your team can beat mine, bring it on.
Geeks Under Grace would like to thank Ben Wolf for participating in this interview. To learn more about Ben Wolf, his magazine, his novel, and keep up with his latest work check out the links below:
Victoria Grace Howell is an artist and aspiring speculative fiction writer. She received Teen Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Florida Christian Writers Conference , a conference she attended since 2010, and the Believers Trust Award in 2015. When she's not writing her books or articles, she enjoys drawing her characters, playing the piano and practicing Kung Fu.
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