The Spooky Six with Willow Croft and Ben Fitts
For this edition of the Spooky Six, I’m sitting down with Ben Fitts for tea . . . and yogurt with some very unusual flavors!
Ben Fitts (he/him) is a writer, musician, and zinester from New York. Fitts is the author of the books My Birth And Other Regrets and Snailbutter, as well as over forty published short stories. He has been writing for fun since around the time he learned how to read, but began taking the craft seriously as an undergrad at Hampshire College when he realized he wanted another creative outlet when the band he was in at the time broke up. His short stories soon began receiving publications in a variety of zines, anthologies, and other DIY publications that weren’t turned off by their oddball content and dark humor. Nineteen of these early stories were collected in his debut collection My Birth And Other Regrets, which was published by the press NihilismRevised in 2019 when Fitts was twenty-two years old. My Birth And Other Regrets has received praise from a variety of notable authors within the bizarro fiction movement, including Danger Slater, Sam Richard, and Ben Arzate, among others.
Grateful to the zine community that had given him his start, Fitts created The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine in 2018, a DIY hand-stapled publication that published only rock-, punk-, and metal-themed genre fiction stories. The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine was published between 2018 to 2019 for a total of six issues that featured works from a wide variety of underground writers. In addition, he created the one-off zines Choose Your Own Death, A Beginner’s Guide To Bizarro Fiction, Ant Sniffing Zine, and A Beginner’s Guide To Witch House.
Following his graduation from Hampshire College, Fitts relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where he co-founded the indie rock band War Honey and has since made a living as a working guitarist. War Honey released a pair of extended plays, including 2020’s Shard To Shatter which has received a colored-vinyl reissue from the label Handstand Records.
His second book is the novella Snailbutter, released by Hybrid Sequence Media in 2021. A work absurdist and bizarre horror-comedy, Snailbutter follows a day of school in the life of ninth-grader Doug, whose best friend had climbed into a giant snail shell that he found in his backyard and refuses to come out. As he tries to help his friend come out of his shell, Doug encounters monsters, robots, mutants, Nazi scientists, British girls from other dimensions, and other things you probably dealt with at that age as well. A second edition version of Fitts’ collection My Birth And Other Regrets featuring two brand new stories is set to be released in spring of 2023 by Hybrid Sequence Media.
My Birth And Other Regrets New Edition Pre-Order: https://hybridsequencemedia.com/product/my-birth-and-other-regrets/
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion . . . let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
Ben Fitts: I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today by Brian Asman is a horror novella set entirely in a gas station convenience store. In terms of day to day life that’s pretty typical, but as far as horror goes it’s pretty out there. But then again, I once wrote a short story set on a planet populated entirely by Elvis impersonators.
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
Ben Fitts: I like trying the weirdest foods and flavors I can come across, so my comfort food is often something I’ve never had before. That being said, I have a pretty intense yogurt addiction and get a bit restless if I go too long without having any. I usually have a tub of it on the desk with me while I write, the more unusual the flavor the better.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
Ben Fitts: My biggest fear is definitely heights. The fear is rooted in that sense of helplessness that comes with even small falls, of seeing the ground rushing towards your fragile self and knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop the impact. I often have dreams where I’m soaring around the sky like Superman, only to lose my powers as I’m as high as the clouds and then abruptly plummet the long distance to the ground beneath me. So as you may guess, I’ve never been skydiving. I also have a fear of being run over by the subway on my way to work each day, so I’m dealing with that as well.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
Ben Fitts: When writing short fiction the original momentum is almost always enough to see me through to the end, but when it comes to longer works I often find myself at a loss as I reach the middle and begin eyeing the ending. I generally have an idea of where I want the work to go, but sometimes it can be difficult to properly set up the landing. When I have that problem, there isn’t really anything to do other than stare at my screen and hack at the story line by line until I’m in a groove again.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
Ben Fitts: I’m a panster all the way to the depths of hell and back. I’ve experimented with outlines on some longer short stories, and doing so sapped every drop of fun out of the project. At that point I might as well have been doing my taxes for the amount of enjoyment I got out of it. Moreover, I found that my writing tended to suffer when I plotted things out ahead of time. It got much stiffer and felt less alive now that it had a specific task to accomplish instead of being able to do what it wanted.
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
Ben Fitts: Ooh, that’s a tough one. Obviously I have to pick someone who’s dead, because otherwise this chance to reach into the workings of the afterlife would be squandered. There’s a part of me that wants to say Alexandre Dumas because he was the first writer I ever really loved as a kid and is ultimately to thank (or perhaps blame) for setting me on the path that led to me taking up the craft as an adult. However, I don’t speak any French so that probably wouldn’t make for a very interesting conversation. So with all of that in mind, I might have to go with Richard Brautigan.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.