Interview of Benjamin Devos for his book Human Fish

Benjamin DeVos (Human Fish now available) – ITW #17

Keep your friends close, and your friends closer, as they don’t say. We followed that principle anyway because having Benjamin DeVos around is something pleasant.

Before welcoming here Kevin Jackson again for his Why I Write, we are very pleased to share with you our interview of the writer of Human Fish, one of our major 2020 book discoveries (read our review here) Here’s the review, in case you’d like to see.

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Our interview with Benjamin DeVos:

What's the raison d'être of your book? Liberation from your own story, or description of a state of the world?

The purpose of Human Fish is primarily to entertain and offer an enjoyable escape for a few hours. However, I’ve also heard Human Fish called ‘the quintessential climate crisis book.’ I think we as humans should be better ambassadors for this planet and the creatures that live here, so I’m glad that came through in the work. I really just wanted to write a fun book though.  

The Human Fish is morally uncorrupted, almost pure. Weren't you afraid to build a character that could be perceived as too good to be true and weaken your intentions?

Part of the Human Fish’s purity comes from his lack of agency on land. He’s a half-man, half-fish creature from the sea trying to figure out the world, so I don’t think anyone would think it was ‘too good to be true’ necessarily. The book itself is pretty dark and there are lots of characters trying to corrupt the Human Fish on his journey. In the end, I think it strikes a nice balance.  

Your approach to fiction seems to be heavily inspired by ancient literature. Can you confirm, and tell us why?

There are certainly elements of the Campbellian hero’s journey. Otherwise, my inspiration was all modern. The biggest inspiration was David Bluvband’s character of the Human Fish from the Chris Gethard Show. Highly recommend that show to anyone. Start with the episode, “The Whiffle Bat Gang.”

The Human Fish himself, from the Chris Gethard Show

Sports are quite central in your life. Is there a relation between your dedication to sports, and the one you have for literature?

I have a really hard time finding balance. I tend to go all-in on things, and commit until I complete the goal I set out for. For half a decade, I gave up living a “normal” social life so that I could write a book a year. Before that, I dedicated myself to football and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and excelled at both. Now, I’m trying out ultra running, and just had my first 40-mile race. It’s really cool to accomplish such a dramatic physical feat after dedicating myself to a sedentary activity for so long. The relation is probably just hard work. I recommend giving your whole heart to anything you pursue. 

Benjamin DeVos, Human Fish (Eraserhead Press)

Available now.

His mom is a trout and his dad’s a human. He is a half-man, half-fish creature from the sea, trying to figure out the world of man. But the answers he finds lurking in the Los Angeles underbelly only lead to more questions. On a journey to find his father after a drug deal gone bad, how far will the Human Fish go to seek out the truth of his identity?


About Benjamin DeVos

Benjamin DeVos is the author of The Bar is Low, Lord of the Game, and Madness Has a Moment and Then Vanishes Before Returning Again. He is the head editor of Apocalypse Party and lives in Philadelphia.

Visit Benjamin’s website.

Written by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture.

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