Congratulations on your new novel, The Disappearance. I know it’s always a little weird when a new novel is released, because you’re already deep into the next book by that time. But let’s start out with The Disappearance.
Hellnotes: First, could you tell us a little about the story?
Little: I’m extraordinarily bad at providing synopses for my novels, but basically, The Disappearance is about a group of college students who attend The Burning Man festival. While there, the main character’s girlfriend disappears, and when they return to Southern California, they find that there is no record she ever existed.
Actually, a few weeks before the book came out, I caw a commercial on NBC for their new series, The Event. Onscreen were the words, “The Disappearance,” while a grave voice intoned, “The Disappearance is not the Event.” I was hoping people would be confused and think my book was connected to the show, allowing me to rise those coattails to bestsellerdom. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.
Hellnotes: The Disappearance is a bit of departure for you, isn’t it?
Little: A little. But my third novel, Death Instinct, was nonsupernatural, as was my last novel, His Father’s Son. Granted, these two most recent books were written at my publisher’s behest, but I do like cleansing my palate and doing different types of novels each time. Which is why, given my choice, I would not have put out University and Dominion back-to-back. Likewise, The Burning and The Vanishing, and His Father’s Son and The Disappearance. Not that any of these are bad novels, necessarily, but they’re too close in tone for my comfort. I might still have written them, but I probably would have spaced them out a little. I get bored treading over the same territory, and usually the second novel is not as good as the first. I think University is better than Dominion, and The Burning is better than The Vanishing. Although, oddly enough, I prefer The Disappearance to His Father’s Son.
Hellnotes: Okay, I know you don’t want to antagonize your publisher, and I can appreciate that, but isn’t Signet nudging you further and further away from what you really want to write?
Little: Sort of. Because, give my druthers, I’d write supernatural horror stories each tme out. But I am happy to report that my next novel will be a ghost story. Set in the Southwest. I have a smile on my face just saying that. I feel like I’m coming home again.
Hellnotes: For each book, you supply your editor with a list of ideas, get some feedback and eventually whittle it all down to the next book you’re going to work on, right? So, you must have one huge file of ideas that haven’t made it through the process, but you still believe have promise for the down the road.
Little: Oh yeah. A lot of ideas. And to my mind they’re all viable, or I wouldn’t have suggested them in the first place. Most of them I’ll probably never do anything with, but there are a couple that I really want to write. They’ll eventually be novels. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but someday.
Hellnotes: Do you ever work on more than one book at time?
Little: I used to, but these days I find it too distracting to split my focus like that. I’ll jot down ideas for different novels, even write down scenes for those novels if they occurs to me, but for the most part I work on one book at a time.
Hellnotes: The current Cemetery Dance issue is a special Bentley Little issue. It includes two original Bentley Little short stories. Could you tell us about them?
Little: They were both written fairly recently, but I can’t remember if I wrote them specifically for Cemetery Dance when Richard Chizmar suggested the idea of a “Bentley Little Issue” to me, or if I just wrote them because I was between novels. Generally, after I finished one novel and before I start another, I feel restless, so I’ll write a few short stories just to stay in practice.
Hellnotes: Do you still enjoy writing short stories?
Little: I do, although I don’t write them as often as I’d like because there’s really no market for them and they just end up sitting on my desk, or on a disk, collecting dust. lately, I’ve had a few published in some small press anthologies (I came up through the small press and still have a soft spot for struggling writers and editors), but I’m kind of an outcast among members of the horror establishment and am seldom invited to join their party, so most of the stories remain unpublished. One of these day, I may gather the best of them and put out another collection.
Hellnotes: Are you selling your short stories on the Kindle?
Little: No. I have no idea how to even do that.
Hellnotes: What are you working on now?
Little: I’m working on my new novel.
Readers can pick up a copy of Bentley Little’s newest novel, in paperback or on the Kindle, here: The Disappearance.