Sep 20 2011
My guest this week is author Jeff Bennington. His official bio states that he is the original family guy, suspense writer, blogger and inspiration to thousands or maybe just a few. He’s the author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, Killing the Giants, The Rumblin’ and can be found at The Writing Bomb late into the night.
Hi, Jeff. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Please, tell the cool peeps about yourself.
Okay, well first of all, thank you so much for having me, Molly. It’s a pleasure to be interviewed by you.
As far as who I am, I’m just a regular guy who stumbled upon writing late in life. I love my family, drumming, music…really love music…and of course writing.
You have a wonderful wife and four great children. Care to brag about them just a bit?
Yes! I’ve been married to my wife Amber the Super Mom for over 19 years. We have four children, Caleb (15), Levi (13), Asher (11), and finally, little princess Anna (9). We home-school all four of those boogers and have a blast doing it. Basically, I work and write, do the laundry, cook on occasion, teach creative writing to the little stinkers and Amber does the rest; that’s why she’s Super Mom!
In 2007, you began to take writing seriously. Please, tell us about your humble beginnings and how your writing journey has evolved since.
Well, it all started back in 1905 when I was a…oh, sorry. My mistake. That’s my grandpa’s story. My story started back in the 7th grade (1982) when I got straight Ds the first semester. Terrible, I know. There were many tears and psychological scars as a result of that report card, but that’s definitely when it all started. I felt stupid and from that day forward I worked hard to be more smarter!
Fast forward to my years at Indiana University. I loved writing papers. Crazy I know, but I didn’t know why I enjoyed it; I just did. Ten years, a bachelor’s degree, one wife, and four kiddos later, I tried my hand at my first non-fiction and wrote a book about succeeding in the home maintenance business. I never published it, but it was a start. Previously, I wrote songs, Sunday-school lessons and dabbled in fiction, but realizing that I could complete a full manuscript encouraged me to try again.
My next attempt came in the form of a few blogs and a political thriller called Chasing the Giants. I loved the process and had fun creating, but honestly my skill set was rather weak. I tried again and wrote Killing the Giants (pub’ed in 2009). A much better attempt, but I learned that if I’m going to take this seriously, I better study up.
Two years later, I produced The Rumblin’ (Nexgate Press 2010), Reunion (Nexgate Press 2011) and have recently finished Twisted Vengeance, which was just offered a contract with a small publisher in Canada.
You have a very distinct method for developing your writing craft. Can you tell us what you do and how you have grown as a writer because of what you do?
Sure. I’ve read several great books on improving my writing ninja skills. What I do is a very simple process that keeps me sharp and constantly improving.
Here’s what I do: I write a first draft of a novel. Then I read or reread a book on writing. Next, I work on the second draft, followed by a serious study of a successful author’s work. Finally, I return to my work in process and revise until its finished. Makes the writing process last about nine months, but it works for me!
What inspires you to write? How do life’s curiosities find their way into your books?
I’m very curious about the supernatural, eternity, space, other dimensions, aliens and all things strange. Naturally I find myself writing about what I’m interested in. So far I’ve written two conspiracy theory type political thrillers, two supernatural thrillers, two short supernatural thrillers (one unpub’ed), and my current WIP is a bigger than life alien-based suspense thriller.
I look to spend more time dabbling in gritty psychological/biblical/ancient alien/suspense thrillers, but not as Christian literature. I hate preaching to the choir. I’d like to take my thoughts on alien life forms and connect them with ancient writings and modern discovery.
Care to tell us about your current WIP?
Well, see, that’s the thing; the book I’m working on is called Federal Underground and it’s a top secret black-budget project, so if you don’t mind, I’ll have to pass. And to be honest with you, I simply don’t have the proper clearance to tell you anyway.
I can, however, tell you about my latest completed manuscript, Twisted Vengeance. Here’s the synopsis posted on my blog…
…Detective Rick Burns’ life is falling apart. His four-year old son is dead, his brother butchered, he’s in love with the one woman he can’t have and he’s investigating a slew of unsolved murders of violent, domestic abusers.
When a mysterious boy enters his life, things only get worse.
The boy knows the victims. He knows about Rick’s fears. And he knows about Debil, the serial killer with a lust for death.
Determined to help the detective find the perpetrator, the boy ushers Rick into a nightmarish chase where reality and the supernatural are blurred, nearly costing him his life, his love, and his reputation in a storm of domestic vengeance that is so twisted you won’t be able to stop reading until you discover the awful truth!
This book is a mix of Damien and Sixth Sense.
I meet a lot of crazy characters every day. Some are so freakin’ nutty you’d think a writer had made them up. How do you develop your characters? Do they ever surprise you by doing things you thought were “out of character?”
My characters are interesting. I don’t know how I develop them really. Sometimes I have to add critical elements to make them seem real, but it’s probably my brain throwing everyone I’ve met into a big bowl of people chili, mixing them up and scooping the results out with a literary ladle. I think that’s the blessing that comes to those who make the effort to write. That’s the magic in creating literature.
Tell us about your blog and how writing it works in tandem with your efforts as a novelist?
I write about life. I write to inspire. I write about real ghost stories. And on occasion I give glimpses of what I’m working on. Blogging builds an author platform, but it should also help an author’s readers know who the author truly is, by making those connections through comments and shared stories.
You grew up in three different states and have had all kinds of jobs. Please, tell us a bit about your background and how the diversity of your experiences has helped you to grow as a person.
I’ve worked in factories, installed HVAC units, built houses, spent 11 years in college, rocked my drums in front of thousands, owned my own business and god help me, I’ve worked for my father-in-law! Best of all, I was a paperboy as a kid, so I learned about people early on—a creepy life lesson, trust me.
Although I wasn’t an Army brat, I lived in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana and I’ve met a very diverse group of folks that range from very wealthy, very poor, very motivated, very lazy, very very nice to absolutely creepy and everything in between. And now…I get to write about them.
I’ve also had a few ghostly experiences that have helped me in my supernatural suspense skill set.
The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?
I love what has become of publishing. There are many more options for writers, and at the present moment, skilled writers with the desire to market their work have an equal opportunity to succeed. This is also changing reader’s thoughts about the quality of independent authors. I publish The Kindle Book Review and I highlight lesser-known authors who are getting rave reviews, so I see the rise in indie quality everyday.
On the other hand, things can always change and they likely will. I foresee the path to publication emerging from successful indie authors. I think big publishers will continue to pick up proven indies rather than focusing so much on the traditional query letter methodology. I think this will balance the pendulum in the digital market. I also believe that paper will continue to sell to those who refuse the eReader technologies, but brick and mortar stores will continue to shrink thanks to Amazon’s ability to transform the market.
Social media can be a freakin’ crazy, demanding, and time-sucking beast. I know many peeps have a serious love/hate relationship with it. How do you feel about it? What do you think are the best and worst ways to feed “the beast?”
This one is easy. I love it. I hate it. I do it. I spend more time than I should. I basically visit Facebook daily and post personal and literary updates. I also blog weekly, tweet throughout the day and sadly, obsess over my Amazon rankings. You have to self-promote, but I’m slowly learning how to do it better, and I emphasize the slowly part.
What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?
I wish I knew how to publish my own work and the importance of professional editing.
What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?
I hope to discover that my kids are getting along magnificently in life.
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
My shoes. I need the right pair of shoes and it’s usually a pair of Dickies work boots. (Ever see Sylvester Stallone on the street?)
Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs? Where can people find you online?
If you’ve never heard of me, go to my blog, The Writing Bomb; you’ll get a taste of my writing style, have one click access to all my books (even the free ones) and you’ll learn to love me I promise! I write about life, publishing, inspiring stories and scary stuff. The Writing Bomb
And…you really should read my latest release, Reunion, a supernatural thriller about a group of kids who survive a school shooting and attempt to reunite twenty years later…in their old school…and it’s haunted!
You can also get my short suspense, The Rumblin’ for free right now at Amazon & Smashwords.
Finally, if you are into secret societies and conspiracy theories, try reading my dark thriller, Killing The Giants.
Thanks for having me!