Author Ben Hilton (BG Hilton) has written both Science Fiction and Fantasy works, but says he uses the term, Speculative Fiction, because he ‘got bored a long time ago’ with arguments
about what the difference is between them!
He has a collection of images on his laptop of behind-the-scenes photos from horror movies, where you can see the Wolfman having a nap, an alien having a cup of tea and a sandwich or some extras laughing at one of Dracula’s jokes, and says, these are the kinds of worlds he loves to create.
‘It’s that mix of the very mundane and the extremely strange. A lot of what I write is humorous, though not all of it. I don’t know what it says about me that I like to sit at a laptop and write jokes to make myself laugh, but there you go.’
Ben enjoys writing flawed characters, and says that overly competent characters can be fun to watch, but he finds them boring to write. His published novel, Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys, is a Steampunk adventure story.
‘I think I first came across the Steampunk aesthetic when I was a kid, watching 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea, First Men on the Moon, and Dr Who. I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’m too much of a historian to be uncritically fond of the Victorian era. There was a lot of awful stuff going on – although that makes for some solid story ideas.’
Five Things About Ben’s History
- I’ve lived in Sydney for most of my life, other than a few years in Newcastle when I was at uni. I didn’t travel much until I was in my forties, which is mostly my wife’s influence. I’ve come around from travel being something I endure for her sake, to something I enjoy for itself, but it took a while to happen.
- I’ve worked in IT, hospitality, finance, education and advertising. Maybe some other areas too, I forget. It’s mostly pretty dull. All jobs suck, in the end. That’s why I make up stories.
- Once, I lived in a haunted house. But I didn’t discover this until after I moved out! So, it seems it wasn’t actually very haunted.
- I have always written as a hobby, but I didn’t really take it seriously until about 10 years ago, which is when I began trying to get published. My first submitted short story was almost immediately published (in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine), and then nothing
else for a couple of years, but I’m having better luck now.
- I have a toddler. She hasn’t written much, but what she has written includes a story in which sea creatures were flying in the sky and Amelia Earhart was squishing sharks in her airplane, so that’s pretty cool.
Five Things About Ben’s Work
- To date, I have one published novel: Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys. It’s a rollicking Steampunk adventure, with much humour and many explosions. Though it’s a fantasy, it’s based on research about Victorian London, and touches on things like the
music hall, patent medicines, shipbuilding and the incredible London sewer system. I am excited to say that my next book, Mysterious Aisles, will be published in November 2022.
- I’ve had some good reviews for my novel, but my favorite comes from my Dad, who said, ‘I like the observations on human nature, but I don’t think the science-fiction stuff really adds much. Maybe write a realist novel next time.’ (Sorry, Dad, not going to happen!).
- Over the past year, writing has been slow-going. Between the constant worry of COVID and the stress of a demanding job, I slowed down creatively, but am looking forward to my next book being published.
- Because creativity wasn’t coming as easily to me, over the past year, I’ve been sprucing up some old manuscripts. I’ve been working on two – one a very silly comedy I originally serialised on my website, is the novel that’s being published in November. It’s about a big box hardware store that’s slowly drifting towards open warfare with a rival hardware store. The main character is a former supervillain who’s working there as part of his parole, and is torn between his desire for a normal life an instinctive desire to laugh, as his enemies are slowly lowered into an acid-pit.
- My other WIP is a somewhat grim story about a young woman who learns she’s Victor Frankenstein’s granddaughter and has to deal with the fallout of this. She’s targeted by enemies of her family and has to choose between seeking safety with her terrible relatives or with the forlorn creatures they have created.
Ben says that he finds it difficult to stay focused. He has no real ideas about how to keep on track, other than perhaps staring an inspirational poster for a long time – perhaps a meme that says, you should be writing…
Things that do help him to keep writing, even during difficult times, include a ‘desperate need to escape from the mundane reality of life’, finding half an hour of free time to write, actually writing, coffee and sheer bloody-mindedness!
In the future, Ben hopes that we get through the pandemic and that we learn some lessons about how to prevent something like this happening in the future. He hopes more of his work is published, and says that it would be nice if one of them really took off, or got turned into a Netflix series, but he’s keeping his goals more reasonable at the moment.
He wants to be able to travel overseas again, or at least be able to go to an author event without it getting cancelled at the last moment and that his daughter has a good life.
You can find out more about BG Hilton and his works at his website