Thursday, August 2, 2012

Toby Bennett's world of horror #guest

The Mother City of Cape Town has had horror quietly going about its business in the shadow of the Hoerikwaggo in the shape of Toby Bennett, one of last year's Bloody Parchment short story competition finalists.

A born-and-bred Capetonian, Toby says: "I was born in Cape Town back in 1976 and loved stories from an early age. I’m not sure if my relationship with horror was always a good one since I can remember some pretty strong nightmares as a child. My first memories actually involve a couple of scenes from the original The Amityville Horror, I was too young to really understand what I was seeing at the time (my parents had taken me into the drive in as an under two) but that didn’t stop the bloody hand prints sticking, if you will forgive the pun. It took a viewing of The Omen 2 and an increase in vocabulary before my parents actually realised that I was sure there was a coven owls waiting to pluck out my eyes while they slept.

"So that was the start anyway, since then I have written six novels and various short stories. I’m not keen to be tied down to one particular genre but I’m a definite fan of the supernatural and unusual. I hope that comes across in my work, I certainly consider my job done if I can take people out of their own world, even just a little, and give them a glimpse of something new."

The background of Toby's story treads some familiar ground for those who love the genre. He says: "I think the inspiration or at least context for the story should be familiar to anyone who has a passing acquaintance with HP Lovecraft. I’ve always thought that the monsters you don’t, or can’t, see are far more terrifying than the ones you can. A werewolf is just a big dog and these days, god help us, vampires sparkle in the sun; real fear lurks in an empty room where you are completely alone but don’t feel it. You look into the mirror and ask, 'is this me?' or turn suddenly in the hope of catching a glimpse of what might be watching you, worlds away, but somehow tickling the corner of your senses and running tentacles lightly over the back of your neck. The unseen and the unknowable are at the heart of true terror, everything else we have made up to fear, ghosts, goblins or gods, are just ways to give shape to something more profoundly disturbing to us: the emptiness and the unknowable things that might dwell within. A few withered leaves is an attempt to tap into some of that fear and a question I have always asked myself, 'If I could turn round quickly enough what might I see following in the wake of my shadow?'"

As for what Toby loves about horror as a genre, he says: "Like I said human beings have a need to quantify and catalogue the things that go bump in the night. Horror taps into something primal and can be so many different things for different people. The one thing I think we all have in common is that no matter how terrifying something gets we don’t want to look away. Perhaps it’s similar to the way that some people take a morbid interest in serial killers. Once you’ve read a story or understand the ‘rules’ of a monster it seems less frightening, so horror really does offer us a kind of catharsis and ironically even a defence against our deepest fears. That’s the cerebral answer, another way of looking at it is that it can be fun to create a character and then five minutes later come up with a reason why something might want to eat them."

And in answer to the million dollar question most horror authors can give some pretty creative answers--What scares you?--Toby says: "Mice so depraved that they wear red shorts held up by suspenders! Also being asked to provide pictures of myself. Otherwise I’m fine… when I’m awake."

Check out Toby's website at

The majority of his written works are available at Amazon, but he's also on Facebook.

Find the Bloody Parchment anthology here.

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