Interview with new reviewer of Magical Realism and Horror, Ben Arzate

If you would like to be a part of our review team, head over to our Goodreads group shelf “review requests,” pick a book you would like to review, then email us at Include the book of your choice and a link to a review you’ve written. Not everyone will be accepted, but it is worth a shot. Have a read of our reviews to see what we like. We are also interested in reader-focused types of articles about speculative fiction books and its subgenres.

Now, to our newest reviewer, Ben Arzate. For those who like “out there” type of fiction, he will be your guy.


How do your reading choices influence your writing and vice versa?

I notice that if I’m reading too much of one of author or genre, I start to write in that vein. That’s why I try to make sure I read a wide variety of books. Also, if I find that I’m writing in a certain style, I’ll try to find other writers in that style to see how it can be done, and to distinguish myself from them. For example, I’ve written some poetry that was completely free association recently, and it got me wanting to read some surrealist literature.

Who are some authors whose works have stuck with you and why?

William S. Burroughs for his prose and for his mind-bending stories. Hubert Selby Jr. for his visceral portrayals of human life at the extremes. Italo Calvino for his beautiful and surreal tales. Charles Bukowski for his no-b.s. prose and verisimilitude. Bret Easton Ellis for making me laugh and wince. Stephen Crane’s poetry for being one of the finest examples of saying a lot with very few words. Michel Houllebecq for taking me to some of the darkest places possible. Gabriel Garcia Marquez for his well-crafted magic realism. Harlan Ellison and JG Ballard for showing me what science fiction is capable of. Jack Ketchum for being one of the very few writers to deeply disturb me. Stephen King for keeping me coming back to him.

What are your goals for this year, as a writer and reader?

As a reader, I’m hoping to read more recent releases. I have a bad habit of sitting on them for a while to read older stuff. I’m hoping to do more reviews of them as well.

As a writer, I’m hoping to put together a manuscript for a short story collection. I’m also looking to have my short fiction published in more places. I’ve been kicking around putting a poetry chapbook together as well.

What challenges are you dealing with as a writer and reader?

My new job gives me less time to read and distracts me enough that I can’t kick around ideas in my head as much as I used to. I also have problems with creative ADHD. I can’t count how many half finished stories I have that need attention.

What do you prefer about writing short fiction over long?

To be honest, I think most of my ideas are just best suited for short fiction. I have had some ideas that had potential to become a novel or novella, but I feel like I would need to add fluff and filler to make them work as such. If I can get the idea across in a couple pages, or hell even a paragraph, I shouldn’t add to it. On top of that, I prefer to keep my sentences simple and direct, which is going to shorten things up even further.

The first book he’s planning to review is the bizarro horror novel Technicolor Terrorists by Andre Duza

Ben Arzate lives in Des Moines, Iowa. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Ugly Babies, Bizarro Central, Spoilage, The Mustache Factor, Twenty Something Press, and Keep This Bag Away From Children. He blogs at

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for AISFP. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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