I’d like to take the time to introduce you to the super nice Toby Bennett, from Cape Town, South Africa. He is featuring in Suspended in Dusk with a story called Maid of Bone.
He’s a very talented writer and I highly recommend you check out his work if you come across it.
Tell me a bit about yourself, where are you from and what brought you into writing? What drives you to continue writing?
Officially I’m from Cape Town, but I only say that because the body I inhabit was born there! As far as what started me writing goes I’d have to say the answer is cruel fate. I don’t seem to find anything else satisfying, but a passion for quadratic equations might have been more useful! At least then I might be able to get this blasted death-ray to work – or at least it wouldn’t be made out of old toilet rolls!
I keep writing because I love it, I’m still far from perfection but I hope I get closer every time I work. It’s certainly going better than my army of winged monkeys; not one of the little brats has written even a line of Shakespeare yet.
What genres interest you most and which do you write in?
Always a difficult one to answer, I pretty much go where my story takes me so it really depends what’s leaking from my head on any given day. My natural inclination is towards the fantastical, with just a hint of something nasty thrown in. I like it when elements of fantasy or humour mix with the macabre. After all, it’s a spoonful of bile that brings the medicine up.
What are your thoughts about short stories and the short form? Do you have a particular favourite short story?
I’m a big fan of short stories because of their capacity to catapult the reader into the action. With none of the slower run up of a longer work they have a wonderful power to captivate and explore many themes without overstaying their welcome.
As far as a favourite short story goes I can’t say I have one (I always hate being asked to rank anything as the best). I’m always game for work by Mr. Lovecraft or Mr. King. Most recently I enjoyed the Doom Bunny by Benjamin Knox, well worth it, it helped me to forget that I didn’t get any chocolate this year!
What did you find interesting about writing a story for an anthology with the suspended in dusk title/theme? Was there anything in particular that you wanted to write about or explore?
I’ve a terrible confession, my story started life as a pun. It was only as it unfolded that I truly started contemplating the themes behind the anthology. The concepts of being trapped between states of being, limbo existence on the edge of what we regard as normal.
I hope it is clear enough from the story itself but I was trying to explore questions of sanity and perception. “Little questions like did that statue move?” and “can I trust my own perception?” In Maid of Bone, there is a lot that the protagonist takes for granted. She is trapped in her twilight world by her failure to address her presumptions about what is actually happening to her, I hope that readers will pick up on this ambiguity between what she thinks is true and what might be true. It is an ambiguity we all face.
What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Ah the chance for some shameless self-promotion eh? Again I’m loathe to pick just one great moment. I could say the first time I finished a book or when my book Heaven’s Gate got nearly eight thousand downloads on Kindle in a week (okay, it was free at the time). I’m also really looking forward to the publication of ‘Viral’ a collaborative work with Mr. Knox and one that I expect big things from (I’m even hoping for groupies!) Small victories, yes, but things that have meant a lot to me. I think the best part of being a writer is the thought that you have made a connection with other people so I’d say that the highlight is when I hear back from people who enjoyed something I wrote.
Do you have any outstanding writing goals you’re working to achieve? (sale to a particular market or publication/book deal/award/NaNoWriMo/etc)
Well I’m currently working on two books and I really want to get cracking on the sequel to Viral so yes plenty of goals, if only there was enough time in the day!
Do you have any interesting projects on the horizon that you’d like to share some info with us about?
It seems I’m going to mention Viral again, damned book’s like a disease! Seriously, if you like your sci-fi dystopia mixed in with a little horrible mutation and politics set against the backdrop of a ravenous media industrial complex I’d say it’s not to be missed– everyone needs to find out what a dumpling is!
Apart from that I’m also working on a historical piece set during Germanicus’s campaigns in Germany ( wish me luck with getting the research right on that!) I’ve also done a reboot of my book the Endless Ocean and will be releasing its sequel on Kindle in the next few months.
What advice do you have for new or aspiring writers?
Not sure how original it is (the best advice often isn’t) but: keep at it and be true to your vision. It’s worth remembering that there is no right way to tell a story and that you’re probably better making your own mistakes than someone else’s. The important thing is that you build on those mistakes and hopefully speak more clearly every time, everyone’s not always going to like what you have to say but popularity isn’t the only way to judge if something is worth hearing. Most important have fun, if you’re not enjoying it how can anyone else?