Today I welcome Ben Wolf, owner and founder of Splickety Publishing Group, to my blog. I met Ben Wolf at a writer’s conference a few years ago and have watched his career grow from there. After reading his debut novel Blood for Blood I wanted to invite him to take a seat in my very cluttered office to share a little about how he decided on his theme. For those of you who have not read my book review let me give you the one second recap: A vampire gets saved. Kind of weird yet intriguing at the same time. Hey, that kind of describes you, Ben. Let me clear off that chair over there and we can get started.
Tell my readers a little bit about yourself. The normal along with the weird.
Hi, Cindy. I’m both the hero and the villain in my own story, which makes for some interesting sword-fighting duels in my sleep. As you said, I’m the founder/owner/Executive Editor of Splickety Publishing Group, your source for the best flash fiction in the world. When I’m not working on Splickety stuff, people pay me small fortunes (emphasis on small) to freelance edit their writing, whether it’s nonfiction, fiction, or just about anything else.
I’m also the author of Blood for Blood, as you said in your delightful introduction. And yes, a vampire does get saved. The story focuses on what happens to him after that experience, specifically on how he tries to stop becoming a vampire and how other Christians treat him.
It’s obvious to anyone who meets you and follows you on Facebook that you write and love speculative fiction. How does this genre fit in the Christian market?
For readers who don’t know what spec fiction is, it’s anything weird: super heroes, vampires, aliens, fantasy, sci-fi, Steampunk, paranormal, supernatural and much, much more. As to its place in the Christian market…most of us are still trying to figure out exactly what that is. Right now the Christian market is dominated by romance and other inspirational genres (including historical). Suspense/thriller/crime/mystery stories are also up there, probably ahead of speculative fiction.
But that’s rapidly changing. Very, very rapidly. We’re poised to take over, and it’s going to be amazing. Within the next 10 years, I anticipate that you’ll see more and more Christian spec fiction (or just spec fic in general) on your bookshelves, and more on Amazon.com and other online retailers as well. The younger generation doesn’t go in for romance stories like previous generations have—they grew up with spec fic in pop culture, so that’s what they love. That’s what they write, that’s what they read, and that’s what they’ll be buying.
Blood for Blood centers around a vampire. Why vampires?
Vampires, in their traditional form as set down primarily by Bram Stoker in Dracula, are diametrically opposed to everything that Christianity stands for. My friend Matt Sheehy, also an author, suggested to me that a vampire getting saved would be hilarious because of all the various vampire taboos he’d have to face as a result. I did a 10-part blog series on the particulars of what my main character Raven endures after he becomes a Christian and why vampires are vexed by Christian principles.
Beyond that, I wanted to explore the question of whether or not a vampire even could be saved. Traditionally, vampires don’t have souls. Therefore a vampire can’t be saved. However, we serve a God who is capable of doing the impossible. He raised Jesus, Lazarus, and others from the dead, and in Psalm 23 King David talks about God “restoring his soul,” so add a bit of fiction to it and hey, maybe this could actually work out.
An Italian evangelist was a surprise to me. Not your stereotypical minister. Talk a little bit about him and his goals.
Luco Zambini is the Italian evangelist in the story. He sort of takes Raven under his wing and tries to help him walk in his new faith. It’s unusual for an Italian in this time period to be non-Catholic, but not impossible, so Luco is an example of an exception. The fact that he’s Italian comes into play when Raven accidentally eats pasta sauce at Luco’s house that contains garlic.
Long story short, Luco’s intention is to prove to his congregation and his family that Raven is capable of genuine change because God is capable of inspiring that change. It’s his hope that Raven’s soul will be fully restored and that he’ll be able to walk in daylight again, just like normal humans do, and just like raven used to do when he was a human.
I found your theme compelling. This coming from a non-vampire reader. Psalms 23:5 is your focus scripture. The restoration of a soul is a wonderful thing. But taking it to the extreme of a soulless man was genius. Now that I’ve totally stroked your ego tell us what this verse means to you personally.
Thanks. My ego and I will sleep well tonight. For me, Psalm 23 (the entire chapter) was something my parents recited with me every night before bedtime when I was a kid. On some level, it must have stuck with me. The imagery of King David’s poetry is powerful and loaded with meaning beyond just the beautiful prose when you understand the context of some of the things he’s saying.
Suffice it to say that we all venture into that valley of the shadow of death at times, and we all need the Lord to guide us, me included. Psalm 23 is a great reminder of that.
This book is written with the new adult audience (young people in their 20s) in mind yet I haven’t seen that decade in a while and I enjoyed it. Pretend you’re speaking to a room full of people my age and share with us why we would find value in reading this story.
I’ve got two things to say to you on this matter: Blood for Blood may be geared for the “new adult” age range, but the principles of a good story are all there: a solid plot with believable characters, compelling conflict and tense interactions, and twists that you’ll never see coming. Tosca Lee, a New York Times bestselling author, said it best: “Action, humor, romance… Ben Wolf goes for the jugular and dares to ask: is anyone beyond the grace of God?”
As for reason number two, it is beneficial to know what folks of all ages are reading. If you’re not in that new adult range and you’re a YA reader, this book will still appeal to you. If you’re older than that new adult range, then you probably know some younger folks who would get a kick out of this book and other books like it. If you’re a parent or a grandparent to someone in the new adult or young adult range, then read this book to screen it for your loved ones, or just get it for them because it’s bound to be right up their alley.
It’s been great visiting with you and before you go can you share with my readers about Splickety’s magazines and how they can subscribe. Don’t forget to mention the anthology. And please feel free to promote yourself shamelessly.
Splickety always has some sort of deal going on, and right now so do I. Subscribing to Splickety’s magazines is as easy as visiting our website, clicking a few subscribe buttons, giving us your info, and then paying via PayPal. But there’s a better deal going on that isn’t currently on the website.
Right now, you can get a digital copy of my novel Blood for Blood AND a one-year digital subscription to Splickety’s magazines for $19.95 if you email me with the code B4B1995 at 1BenWolf@gmail.com. I’ll then provide instructions on where to mail the payment (or we can do PayPal) and we’ll make sure we get you signed up.
Normally the subscription alone costs $24.95, and Blood for Blood sells on Amazon for $4.99, so you’re saving about ten bucks with this deal. As Cindy said, our first-ever Splickety anthology is coming out soon as well, and that’ll be available for purchase soon after the new year rolls in.
If you’re looking for an editor, for consulting, or for a great public speaker, check out my website at www.benwolf.com, contact me, and we can talk about those things at your leisure.
I want to add how much I enjoy Splickety magazines. Great flash fiction coming to your email or mail box every month. As Ben suggested check it out.
If you have any questions for Ben about his writing process, writerly things or vampires leave a comment.
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