Benjamin X. Wretlind ran with scissors when he was five. Consequently, he likes llamas, although it's widely known that llamas don't care one way or another. He is the author of Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors, Sketches from the Spanish Mustang and Regarding Dead Things on the Side of the Road: Collected Stories.
He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids...but no llamas (yet).
What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
Reality sucks, and we all know it. Finding escape in speculative fiction is one of those therapy methods we're all offered, but how many actually take part it in? Few. Why? Because therapy sucks. In the end, the reader and the writer need to embrace this method of escape, and in all honesty, it is only speculative fiction (specifically science fiction) which improves the world over time.
Why do you write in this genre?
I embraced speculative fiction as my escape, as my own personal therapy. You can write what's real for only so long before you want to escape it yourself. When I "sketched" my last novel Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, I didn't really want to do anything speculative or paranormal. I wanted it to be "real." In the end, I had to escape my own horrors by getting out of the real world, even if only for a paragraph.
How did you come up with the idea for A Difficult Mirror?
This idea has been with me since I was 17 in a creative writing class. My teacher gave us an assignment about writing something in a setting that was real. When I asked if I could write about Milton's "gulf" between Heaven and Hell, Troy Hutchings (my teacher and mentor) asked: "Do you believe it exists?" I said yes, and 24 years later I finished the novel.
What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
Experience. When I was younger, I hadn't really lived life that much, so how could my characters? It was necessary for me to live through pain and indignation so my characters could live through--and grow out of--those same experiences.
What are you working on now?
I'm starting to plot out the second novel in this series. I want to make sure I cover the background of the Jim Jones-like cult in A Difficult Mirror and also set up the following novel. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm excited to see it through. I've lived with these characters for decades, and now they have a story to tell.
About A Difficult Mirror
Four-year-old Justine has been lost to the world and with her an ability feared by many. But the balance of power has been shifting for years, and Justine may be able to tip those scales for good...if someone can find her in a pitiless place of sorrow and pain.
When Marie Evans meets a strange man on a deserted road and a body is found mutilated in the desert, a deep resentment teetering on the edge of release is about to explode. Someone, somewhere has drawn a line in the sand, and when Harlan Reese, Marie's ex-lover, enters a forest in central Arizona looking for his daughter, that line will be crossed.
In a world between Heaven and Hell, the past becomes the present as Harlan and Marie find each other once again. Their journey across an unforgiving land to find a way home with Justine by their side will be wrought with both pain and triumph.
Life is, after all, A Difficult Mirror.
"Combining horror, fantasy and mystery with elements of the traditional hero's journey, A Difficult Mirror is a doorway into a world where demons and painful memories from the past hold sway. With a unique and detailed plot, rich characterization and a very real sense of danger, it is sure to appeal to readers of all genres." - Amazon Review