|Interview with Ben Larned, Author
of Fool’s Gold
By D.W. Jones
Ben Larned is an upcoming writer who has
published his first book and working on his
second book. Not only is he an accomplished
writer, he is a film student working on his first
feature film. I speak with Ben to find out how
he gets started and where he is going with writ-
ing and other things.
DW Jones: How did you first get into writing?
Did you always want to write since you were young or did it come later on?
Ben Larned: I have been writing since I can remember, though it didn't become a
serious pursuit until I started high school. I used to write fantasy stories when I
was younger, but horror came much more naturally to me. Since I was 14, I've
been writing short stories and novels constantly, to varying degrees of success.
DWJ: What writers did you grow up reading? How does that influence
BL: The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray
Bradbury are some old childhood favorites for me, but I didn't read that avidly until
high school. Stephen King really got me thinking about writing style and form -
naturally, he is a huge influence on Fool's Gold. H.P. Lovecraft is also a great
inspiration for pure ideas, and his genius for unveiling terror layer by layer is
unprecedented. Those writers both influenced Fool's Gold so much, on many
different levels. Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Shirley Jackson are also personal
DWJ: Where did the idea of your novel Fool's Gold come from?
BL: When I was 14, my family joined a country club, and that whole environment -
the long hallways, the high-class behavior, and especially the persistent quietness
- seemed perfect for a horror story. I found out the club was haunted later, that
might have had something to do with it! I pictured it as a movie at first, and the
story was much different. It was shelved for a while, but it kept popping back up,
and I decided it would work as a book. The atmosphere was inspired by Kubrick's
The Shining, and some plot details - especially the ending - were influenced a lot
by the first season of Supernatural. Horror author Jeff Long, who wrote The
Descent, helped me a huge amount with the specifics and eventually it turned into
what it is.
DWJ: What made you decide to self publish your first novel as opposed to
going with a publishing company?
BL: That was a pretty tough decision. I had been sending it to agents for a while,
but a few people encouraged me to look into self publishing. I ended up working
with someone to get it ready - had it edited, got a cover designed - and so it
became a DIY project. We did a decent amount of marketing before releasing it,
and though it takes some time to get enough attention, there's been some interest
in it so far. Regardless, it was a ton of fun getting it out there, and cool
opportunities have come from it.
DWJ: You also are an award winning film student at NYU. How did you
become an award winning film student? What affect did this have on your
BL: I am also hugely passionate about film making, and went to an arts high
school specifically for that. NYU is the next step in that process. Most of the films
I've made are in the horror genre as well, and it's a lot of fun to see how people
react to those - apparently I scared someone into getting a bloody nose once,
though I'm not sure how!
As film is a visual-audio media, it presents a different challenge than writing does -
to tell a story through images and sound alone is challenging, and it doesn't
always work out quite right. Everything I write I picture as a film in my head, which
does influence the process in some ways, but they are definitely separate arts.
DWJ: What are your plans for the future?
BL: I hope to be able to do both as a career - I think the horror genre could use
some new life. This summer, I'm making a no-budget feature with some friends,
and if it all comes together it'll become the first stepping stone to a real career. I'm
also writing a script based on Fool's Gold - hopefully that will be realized someday!