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An HMS Q&A With Ben Daniels

Recently the former site runner of Terrorphoria and I had a nice long chat about horror, writing, and well… everything from co-authoring a novel to cat toys. Keep reading to find out more about Ben Daniels and his debut work, Detroit 2020.

HMS: Ben, tell the HMS readers about you and your involvement in the horror community.

Ben Daniels: I've been a media blogger for a number of years, writing video game and music reviews for a number of outlets. I've always had a love of horror movies ever since I was a kid, so I created the Terrorphoria blog and began writing guest posts for different outlets.

HMS: How did the transition from running a horror blog and website to writing a horror novel come about?

BD: Well, with my personal life changing over the past few years I had less free time to devote to creative projects. After years of blogging, it began to feel like a bit of a treadmill and I couldn't keep up with the latest news and content. I've always been an avid reader of horror and sci-fi, and I had a few short stories published in college so I decided to transition. Plus, after years of critiquing other people's work, I wanted to create some of my own.

HMS: So how did the idea for Detroit 2020 come to fruition?

BD: My friend and co-author Jeff Conolly and I had been working together for years on different blogs and podcasts, and he had actually authored other works in the past. We both have a love of horror movies, big 1980's action flicks like Robocop and Commando, and crazy grindhouse stuff like Planet Terror and Hobo with A Shotgun. So we thought, "What would happen if we wrote something that was more like a campy, gory action movie than a book?"

HMS: And so tell our readers (no spoilers) what they can expect from Detroit 2020. What's it about?

BD: Detroit 2020 is set in a near-future where corrupt politics and poor decisions have turned the city into a futuristic prison populated by mutants and roving gangs of splatterpunks and lunatics. Dr. Julia Blaze needs to get out and recruits tough-talking merc, Dagger Estevez, to help her. They run afoul of villainous cyborg Mayor Kilpatrick, and there are lots of lovely car crashes and explosions. We jokingly refer to it as "a book for people who don't like reading books."

HMS: Sounds amazing to me! What was it like co-authoring a horror novel?

BD: It was challenging. We used different software tools and Skype to coordinate for drafting and re-writing sessions, and then there were obvious creative differences. Getting authors to compromise with one another is never easy, but I think it worked since we have similar senses of humor and we'd also been in bands, so we knew what it was like to work with others in a collaborative way. I think the final product was better for it, and I'm glad for the times we kept each other in check saying "Dude, that's not as awesome as you think it is."

Plus we brought individual strengths to the book, and it was great having another person to bounce ideas off of who is a horror fan, because they'll say "Hey wait, isn't that exactly what happened in movie X?" and you'll realize you've been watching too much Netflix and not writing enough.

HMS: Do you think that you and Jeff will be working on any future horror projects together? If so, what kind of spoilers can you give us?

BD: Absolutely, we have ideas for an urban horror story, and Dagger and Julia will definitely be back to fight an even more heinous villain in the frozen reaches of future Michigan!

HMS: That's awesome to hear. What do you think some of the reasons are that you're so drawn to horror, specifically writing in horror?

BD: It's just something I've always loved since I was a kid. I used to watch horror movie double-features on TV every weekend. Horror is just a visceral genre to write in, and it's fun to assist people's imaginations to get the better of them and give them a scare. As a kid I wanted to be an FX artist, and I think that comes out in my writing. When we were writing the goriest parts of Detroit 2020, if Jeff was shocked or disgusted I knew I was doing my job right.

HMS: Great answer. That leads me to my next question... as horror writers we don't often get scared of much. What's the genre of horror that actually shocks you or gives you the creeps?

BD: Pet Sematary still bothers me. That and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I love "creature features" but the stuff that's more grounded in reality and what people are potentially capable of is what really freaks me out.


“We jokingly refer to it as 'a book for people who don't like reading books.' ”

HMS: What would you say is your all-time favorite horror film? Book?

BD: It's a tie between Evil Dead 2 and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Both have chainsaws. Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, because it was the first real collection of horror I ever read, and "The Mist" is a masterpiece of short fiction.

HMS: What do you think you look forward to the most in regard to future projects?

BD: Feedback from readers. It's always cool to hear what other people think of your work, especially when they like it. Knowing people are entertained makes all the hard work worthwhile.

HMS: So my final question for you, is one that I typically ask.

The zombies are here! They have taken over your city and they are ready to eat! The item directly to your left is your only means of defense... What is it?

BD: A katana. It's light enough to keep from wearing you down, it's silent and it never jams.

HMS: So, you have a katana sitting next to you? …you're pretty much a bad ass then…

BD: Haha, I thought it was a rhetorical question. If we're being literal, then it's a cat toy… and I'm not gonna make it very far.

There you have it, folks… we’ll have to check in with Ben sometime after the zombie invasion to see how things worked out with that cat toy.

To get your own copy of Detroit 2020 visit this link and to stay up to date on all things Ben and Jeff, check out their blogs.

Thanks again Ben for sitting down for the interview, and from us at HMS, we wish you much success in your horror writing career!

Stevie Kopas, HMS

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