A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Ben Newell

Why do you write?

I get absolutely zero satisfaction from my job.  Writing allows me to deliver a few punches and get some kicks without having to worry about criminal charges.  Also, it’s one of the few times when I actually feel like I have some sort of control over what is happening to me.

What books do you read?

Nowadays I read solely for entertainment, lots and lots of out of print pulp paperbacks.  I’ve become a huge fan of 70s and 80s men’s adventure fiction, ultra violent stuff like The Penetrator, The Sharpshooter, The Executioner, Ninja Master, The Vigilante, etc . . . . I also read a ton of lurid true crime.

What inspires you?

Random things I see and hear and read throughout the day, encounters and whatnot, a billboard, a bumper sticker, a fucked up excerpt from a book about Jeffrey Dahmer, a trip to the supermarket, a trip to my psychiatrist, the trigger can emerge at any time.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I was finishing up my M.A. in English and sick of critical writing and spending all of my time reading/studying the words of other writers.  I thought, hell, I’ll try some creative work of my own.

How do you deal with rejection?

Rejection isn’t so bad when it’s tempered with acceptance.  I’ve experienced my fair share of both.  When feeling a lack of confidence I try to recall the editors who’ve had complimentary things to say about my work.

Who are some writers you admire?

Bret Easton Ellis, Chad Kultgen, Charles Bukowski, Celine, Harvey Pekar, Dan Fante, Steve Richmond, Richard Laymon, Edward Lee.  All of these writers have shaped my work in some form or fashion.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

Yes.  Unless you want to count the occassional Aurora monster model kit.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Never, ever, ever, quit skateboarding to play soccer!  That was a huge fuckup I’ll always regret.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Stick to whatever gets you off, regardless of what others may say.  Your detractors won’t attend your funeral anyway.

What is your writing process?

A typical poem would involve crude notes in a composition book followed by shaping and refining on my laptop.

Ben Newell 2

Ben Newell, 43, works as a library clerk at a small college in Jackson, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in The Blood Machine, Chiron Review, LUMMOX, Nerve Cowboy, Pink Litter, and other underground publications. He is a Bennington College dropout.

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