Another week, another interview with a fantastic up-and-coming writer! Julia Benally is an author of cool and unusual speculative fiction. Her work has been featured in Sanitarium Magazine and Snapping Twig Magazine. And since I’m the editor, I can also reveal she has a story in the forthcoming fall anthology, A Shadow of Autumn. Below, Julia shares her refreshing perspective on the topic of writing.
A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I decided to become a writer when I was eight years old. My teacher said that we were going to make books in class and suddenly I saw a gold leaf, leather bound volume of exquisite work. Of course, that day I got sick, so I couldn’t go and I missed it. My mom said we would make a book of our own so I wasn’t so sad. I really wanted to see the books my classmates made, but then they were just wads of paper folded into gray blue construction paper and I was so turned off. Ever since I’ve dreamed of that leather bound book and my fingers itched to write. Some of my favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, Michael Crichton, Timothy Zahn and Harold Bell Wright.
You often write in the horror genre. What inspires you to create darker fiction, and what advice do you have for other aspiring horror writers out there?
What inspires me is the reservation. It’s a place full of superstitions and ghosts. Many times what I write doesn’t come from ghosts, but people. They can be monsters too. For the aspiring horror writer, I’d suggest to leave out the raunchy sex scenes and the blood and guts. That isn’t horror, it’s just gross and depraved. Personally I think the perfect horror is Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. It’s just creepy, especially when it comes to the Captain’s log, a scene foolishly taken out in all the movies.
If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: brainstorming story ideas, writing the first draft, or polishing a piece before submitting it to an editor?
That’s a hard question for me. I can say though that my least favorite is the first draft. It’s shabby, it’s all over the place, it’s downright ugly. So I suppose polishing it would be my favorite part. That’s when I can make it beautiful and play with the words, I can add and drop things, I can find holes, I can tighten it up. For me, it’s in the polishing that the characters come to life.
My favorite would probably be my very first one because the first is always special. It’s call “The Bridges” and came out in the Sanitarium Magazine issue 5.
In what directions would you like to take your writing career? Are there more short stories in your future or possibly a novel?
Oh, I want to write for life. I can’t do without it. I have several short stories I’m going over, I have several more out finding a home and I’ve recently had one accepted. Not all of them are in the horror genre–for one thing I can’t stay scared all the time, that’s not healthy. I’ve just finished my first novel, a dark fantasy called Pariahs. That one is searching for a home now and it’s part of a series I’ve had in my head since I was 12.