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EmzChat with Mike Bennett
With a voice that can chill your bones and a personality that draws in his listeners, Mike Bennett is on his way to becoming the finest horror storyteller our generation has known. Mike has oodles of creepy short stories included in his podcast Hall of Mirrors and reads other classic horror tales on his podcast called Sometimes. Mike grew up as a Science Fiction fan in England. He currently resides in Ireland where he is a teacher, but when the lights go out – or sometimes even during daylight – Mike becomes the macabre voice behind the mic bringing us such gems as Hair and Skin and his newest vampire novel, Underwood and Flinch. I was fortunate to be able to ask Mike some questions recently about fandom, his life, and what scared him as a child.
EM: What were you a fan of as a kid?
MB: Spiderman, The New X-Men (well, they were 'new' then, now they're just The X-Men), Batman, James Herbert's Rats Trilogy, especially the last one, "Domain". I also loved Man from UNCLE paperbacks. I still have a complete set. Doctor Who (70s), Marine Boy, The Persuaders, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch.
EM: Who might you turn fanboy for today?
MB: I met Tom (Dr. Who) Baker once. I nearly fainted. I was working in a bookshop and he came in to see if we were selling his book, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. Fortunately, we had it in stock. I showed him around and got him to sign a copy.
EM: What was the first real life experience that freaked you the hell out?
MB: Being relentlessly pursued - and finally bitten - by a horsefly.
EM: Which of your works is your favorite?
MB: Underwood and Flinch.
EM: When you were researching for Underwood and Flinch, what kinds of tools did you use?
MB: I lived in a small Andalucian town for six months. That gave me the insight into how a place like Almacena and its inhabitants worked. For vampire background, I watched all the Hammer Dracula movies (not exactly research, I know, but I enjoyed myself) and read Christopher Fraying's book, Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. I also re-read Dracula.
EM: Is there any project that caused you more work than you were expecting? What would you do differently?
MB: Underwood and Flinch is a write-to-podcast affair. I began podcasting it as soon as I'd completed a rough first draft. In hindsight, I'd prefer to have completely finished the book first and had an editor look it over and then I'd have implemented the edits and done another draft and so on and so on. But then again, the probability is, I wouldn't have done the whole editor thing and later re-writes. If I hadn't started podcasting it when I did, I mightn't have ever taken the project any further. I would have more likely started work on something else and come back to U&F later - maybe. Maybe not. I don't know.
EM: How did you get involved in The Parent Vac project and what possessed you to become a vacuum salesman and an undead dad on film?
MB: My wife and I went down to Wexford to visit some friends, and someone said, 'Let's make a movie'. I was given the task of making up the story, so I looked around to see what props we had. We had a vacuum cleaner and a hat. I threw the story together and we improvised the lines over one or two takes.
EM: Where can readers find out more about you?