A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Benjamin Blake

Why do you write?

I write because I have to. It’s now become somewhat of an obsession. It keeps me relatively grounded, and brings a little peace to a too-busy mind.

What books do you read?

I read a lot of ‘down and out’ kind of stuff: Charles Bukowski, Dan and John Fante. Right now I’m reading South of No North, by Bukowski, and Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Hubert Selby, Jr. I also enjoy a lot of darker stuff. I recently finished reading Carmilla (which was written in the early 1870s), and absolutely fell in love with it.

What inspires you?

A whole ton of different stuff. Loneliness, alcohol, books, movies, video games, going for walks along the river bank, music, being on the road, women, childhood – the list is neverending really.

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

Ever since I was a kid I had this feeling, this almost inexplicable foresight, that I would write a book when I was an adult (my debut novel, The Devil’s Children, was published in October), but it wasn’t until one stormy autumn night, about seven years ago, that everything clicked into place. I came back to my basement room from my then-job at a call center, and started to write my first short story since I was kid – it was then that I realized that I was going to be a writer. I started labelling the lyrics I had been scrawling down since I was a teenager as ‘poetry’, began to pen pieces that were slightly more eloquent, and getting them published in literary magazines.

How do you deal with rejection?

Most of the time, I just let it slide right off. I mean, not everyone is going to like your shit, right? Once I submit somewhere, I generally half-forget about it, and see what happens. Though every so often, I’ll receive some bullshit over-analytical response by some pretentious editor, and I’ll want their blood. But that’s pretty damn rare. Overall, rejection doesn’t really faze me.

Who are some writers you admire?

Charles Bukowski. You can turn to any page in any one of his books, and find something exciting. Writing doesn’t have to be boring.

Dan Fante. He writes with brutal honesty; relatable and cathartic.

Ray Bradbury: Man, this guy writes with fire. Reading his prose taught me when to unleash and when to hold back.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

It isn’t. I also love photography, and music. I try to tie it all in with my writing, though. I shot the cover photo for my poetry/prose collection, Southpaw Nights, and recently put together a book trailer for The Devil’s Children, which I filmed, edited, and wrote and recorded the soundtrack for.

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

Don’t drink so much.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just go with your gut. You know what you’re trying to do better than anyone else does. A lot of writers these days have formed a pack mentality, where social media bullshit holds more importance than just writing, and doing whatever the hell you want. It’s bad. There’s too many rules imposed on the artist, and it will only serve to create an abundance of insipid art.

What is your writing process?

For poetry, I usually get a line pop into my head, and roll with that. Or a title. Some little spark of an idea. I go from there. Perpetually fueled by coffee and too many cigarettes.

 

Benjamin Blake

Benjamin Blake wines, dines, reads, walks, and writes from the North Island wilds of New Zealand. He’s also the author of A Prayer for Late October, Reciting Shakespeare with the Dead, and Southpaw Nights.

 

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