Author Interview with Benjamin Davis

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Benjamin Davis. I am an American writer and Journalist living in St. Petersburg. I grew up in a no-name town in Massachusetts where I was more likely to hear horse sex or a pack of wolves eating a rabbit than cars driving by or drunks fighting, as I do now. I work as a freelance editor, tech-journalist, native-speaking-content-monkey, and social media manager for English speaking markets. To cope with the sterility of corporate writing, my fiction sometimes gets a little out of hand. From 2016-2017, I wrote one story every day for a year for the project Flash-365, creating a community of people who appreciate the short-winded and the weird. To me it is where I found my voice and where most of my stories found their home. May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published.

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Author Interview:

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I couldn’t remember my childhood very well, so I just started asking family members and writing down the bits I could remember myself. It was more of a mental exercise to try and track what the hell happened along the way to turn me into such a dysfunctional adult. At first it was only thirty pages, then as the years went by, I would go back to it again and again with whatever new memory I had or new story I heard. In the end the whole process was on and off for about seven years. I didn’t set out to write a book originally, I was just hunting for some traumatic experience, some explanation–but no, just another privileged middle-class white kid with a lot of embarrassing childhood habits and an overactive imagination.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

It depends who is reading it. A lot of the book focuses on those weird embarrassing situations and feelings that we all have as children that we desperately shove into dark corners of our mind as adults. I always felt like I had no one to talk to about these sorts of things as a kid because all adults were pretending like they never happened to them. But really, everyone still has an embarrassing dirty child inside their head, and in their past.  I just hope that readers will walk away from my book and think, “well–I guess it’s okay that I still pick my nose after my wife falls asleep.”

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I enjoy magical realism because it gives you the ability to make a statement about something without spending ten pages on exposition to do it. If the main character has horns and fur, you probably get that he feels different, there is no need for me to go all Holden Caufield on people to get my point across.

5) What authors or poets were a source of inspiration for you when writing these poems and this book overall?

To be honest, I never saw it as poetry. Or–well, I never intended it that way. I wrote it how it felt to think about it, if that makes any sense. I do have poets I’ve idolized over the years; Sylvia Plath, Charles Baudelaire, T.S. Eliot. But I was more inspired by writers who used a lot of honesty and humor to shape their real-life stories like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Much of our audience came from our website Flash-365. I wrote a story every day for a year and Nikita drew a picture to match each story. It was an arduous process for sure, but some of that audience translated over. I live in Russia and here everyone uses Telegram. I have a channel on there where we post stories and updates and it is a direct messenger notification for readers, so it works really well for directing traffic to new stories and engaging people on a more personal level. My girlfriend is an SMM goddess, so she manages my Instagram and Facebook and all of that. Without her I am pretty hopeless.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Be prepared and patient. It isn’t like in the movies where the main character is a writer and by the end everyone is like, “OMG I read your story in the New Yorker!” or the long-lost lovers bump into each other as one or the other walks out of a stylish and well-publicized reading. It’s a load of crap, Hollywood is full of lies, beautiful lies–but lies none the less. I would say, if someone is serious, save money. Pay to get your work well edited, once, twice, three times. Take a few weeks off after all of that, burn the book, cry, start over and then pay for another round of edits. Then, if you want to publish traditionally, get ready. It is a damn process. This means finding, and sometimes paying for services and memberships to get access to agents, educating yourself, figuring out what the f*ck a query letter is supposed to say and then waiting, waiting, waiting, then eventually you die and hopefully your grandchildren know how to write a query letter.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

We’ve just released a bilingual (Russian-English) novelette titled “The Babushka Society.” (http://a.co/d/h4L5unT

) It is illustrated by the same artist as The King of FU and we worked in collaboration with a podcast She’s In Russia (S.I.R.) to turn it into a radio drama which is available for free on their podcast (https://soundcloud.com/shes-in-russia/73-the-babushka-society). That was the past couple of months, I have recently created a Patreon page to showcase my projects and collaborations where each month I plan to collaborate with someone to create something new; radio dramas, short films, audiobooks, comics, tickle-porn. Who knows. (https://www.patreon.com/benjamindavis)

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AMAZON GIVEAWAYS

The Babushka Society

The King of FU

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