AMES: First, thank you for your time during this short interview. I really enjoyed this volume of Tales from the Lake. I know you spent a lot of hours reading stories, so much time that you had to go to the doctor to check out your eyes. You really made sure that the best of the best made it into this anthology. Please walk us through how this all came about. Did Crystal Lake Publishing approach you? Have you done this before?
EADS: The pleasure is mine. Thanks for having me, and thank you so much for the kind words! Although I didn’t know it, I already had a pre-existing medical condition, so editing helped me get it fixed before it became a problem. Joe Mynhardt CEO and Founder of Crystal Lake Publishing asked me if I would like to edit Tales Vol: 4. I was over the moon! I said yes, and then we discussed where “Lake” should go, and what my vision was. I’m very pleased with the outcome. The contributors made my job easy picking the final TOC.
AMES: Some selections editors only read the first couple pages of a short, believing that a story has to capture the reader and never let go. When selecting stories, did you read each story all the way through before making a decision?
EADS: Nope. I’d still be reading submissions. Ha! An editor knows after reading the first sentence whether it passes or not. Hence the ten minute rejections you see writers post about on Facebook. To be fair, I read the first paragraph of each story. Then you know everything you need to make a decision. Some were really good in the first act and second act but either fell flat in the third act, or didn’t have a third act at all.
AMES: To you, what is the most important aspect of a short story? Atmosphere? Wordplay? Characters you care about? A twist? Or something else entirely?
EADS: A story can’t be a one-trick-pony, so you can’t focus on one aspect—the anthology would suffer, and so would my editing career. I was looking for power and resonance. Something that will take a reader through a harrowing journey and leave them haunted. Many things factor into what gives a story power. The quality of stories I was looking for was quite high. So all of those things you listed above and many, many more.
AMES: How important is voice in the short story format? What short stories / novels would you recommend for lessons in voice?
EADS: Whether the fiction is short or long… voice is everything. You can have great characters, a nice flow, great arcs, but if there is no powerful voice to grab the reader, it’s a waste. Voice gives the actual story life, and so much more. Examples? Short Fiction: Pop Art, Joe Hill; Any story from October Country, Ray Bradbury; A good deal of short fiction by Kelly Lynk. Novel: The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum; IT, Stephen King; Swamplandia!, Karen Russell; 1Q84, Haruki Murakami. Novella: 1922, Stephen King; Old Man Scratch, Rio Youers. These are recent examples, of course. I could go on, and on, and on. Ha!
AMES: What did you learn from this process that has changed your own writing?
EADS: I’m always looking to improve my craft and grow as a writer. It was just another reminder to raise my aspirations as a writer and author.
AMES: Thanks again for agreeing to this short interview. I look forward to the next volume.
EADS: Thank you, man! Deeply appreciated.
BIO: Ben Eads is a writer, author, and editor of horror fiction. A true horror writer by heart, he wrote his first story at the tender age of six. The look on the teacher’s face when she read it was priceless. Since then, his fiction has been published by Shroud Magazine, Crystal Lake Publishing, numerous anthologies, and his first novella Cracked Sky was published by the Bram Stoker Award-wining press Omnium Gatherum. He loves martial arts and is a student of the Japanese sword.
Would you like to know more? Check out these links:
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/beneads
Draven's Review of Tales from the Lake Vol. 4 (November 6th)