Meet Toby Bennet and Benjamin Knox. Two sick sick sick little puppies who make weird and twisted horror stories. They’re here to talk abut writing as a collaborative process, and how it spurred, whipped, and beat them into writing better. Welcome to The Hypnogog, puppies, have at it:
Well it seems that I have bumped up against one of the fundamental laws of our rapidly expanding universe, i.e. that it is often easier to write a four part serialised novel than it is to blog about it!
However, it really doesn’t do to be timid in an age of self-promotion where the squeakiest wheel slurps up the grease with the abandon of a Sumo wrestler preparing for a big match, so here goes.
The project I want to talk to you about is called Viral, but let’s not dwell on the details, what I would like to share is what makes the books special to me and the lessons I have learned from writing them.
The first thing you should know is that Viral is a collaborative work—a few years back fate (or at least persistent random chance) made me aware of a gent by the name of Benjamin Knox.
Like me, Ben had been at the writing game for a while and we decided that a collaboration might mean doing half the work we usually did—so being inherently lazy we started the ball rolling on that basis.
Lazy-writer teamwork activate!
Except it didn’t work as we had expected at all!
Until I started working with Ben, I would have told you that writing was a lonely endeavour best left to lightening troubled nights and the intermittent flickerings of a guttering candle as the wind howls through your crumbling garret. What I found out was that, as with music, collaboration can change everything—I suppose that should have been obvious from watching any Frankenstein movie, though which of us is the hunchbacked assistant is still hotly debated.
What started as a vaguely cynical plan to “get a novel out” quickly broadened and deepened into a project that went places I had never imagined—a work that became more than the sum of its parts.
Naturally, I leave it to everyone to decide for themselves what they think of Viral, my real focus here is on how the experience of working with another writer was so much more valuable than I’d ever thought it would be.
For me something clicked and I found myself working with all the controlled abandon of the duelling banjos from Deliverance.
In retrospect it makes perfect sense that working with another writer makes you up your game—each time you sit down to write a scene you imagine how they will enjoy it and better still you know that your partner will likely add more details that you might not even have thought of making the story fuller and always fresh. There is never a moment where you can think “Oh well no one will notice this” because you know any slacking will be spotted (Ben is not above cracking the whip!)
Write gooder, damn you! More adjectives!
As effusive as I might sound about Viral it is this process of collaboration that I think I will value most. I certainly feel that it has been a developmental experience and yes, damn it I am proud of what we have made.
I could tell you a lot of things about it; that Viral is the distilled experiences of two devoted Sci-Fi / Horror fans. That we wrote it to have one foot firmly in pulp and at least a toe in the mire of literature, we took what we knew and played with it, together, making something that was at least pleasing to us and with any luck will be pleasing to others.
I could claim that “if you only read one book this year it should be…” but none of that particularly matters. The bottom line is that… I’ve managed to write over six hundred words here and that must surely constitute a respectable blog post? (Ben get some pictures together and let’s get on with the next season of Viral).
& Benjamin Knox
Viral is a four part cyberpunk action-horror extravaganza from the Crossroads Press imprint Macabre Ink and has been described as “AKIRA meets Resident Evil” and “Ghost in the Shell meets The Strain”.
Find out if they’re right.
Or if you’re unsure why not try VIRAL: Rough Cuts, a set of prelude and tie-in stories set before the events of book 1 Raw Feed.
Rogue author Benjamin Knox is best known for his short pulp horror fiction. He has been published in numerous anthologies including Suspended in Dusk and several of the Bloody Parchment collections, and continues his short-form fiction with such monstrosities as the Dead of Winter stories and the forthcoming creature-feature novella PRIMORDIAL.
For further strangeness visit:
and/or for a stream of visual weirdness:
Toby Bennett is a veteran fantasy and sci-fi author with over eight novels to his name, including the continual reader favourite Heaven’s Gate. He lives and bleeds in Cape Town, South Africa. You can find out more about him and his work at www.thedragontower.co.za