This week I’d like to introduce you all to Ben Burrell – the author a new Fantasy series that begins with Red Leaves and the Living Token.
I used to be an avid reader of Fantasy and Science Fiction but have moved away from the genre in more recent decades. When Ben’s book was given to me to review, the thing I noticed first was that it didn’t follow any standard formulas for the genre, it was refreshingly different. The characters are well drawn and believable, facing similar issues that many people face in the ‘real’ world today; however, it creates a number of what could be conflicting parallels – for instance, there are state-of-the-art medical facilities but they use horse and carts; in some ways this could create an element of unreality to whole story. The plot develops quite nicely and finishes on a cliff-hanger. There are a few grammatical, editing and spelling mistakes which could be annoying to the more pedantic among us.
Hi Ben, it’s great to meet you and my first question of the interview is, ‘What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
Hmm… Personal. Well, I guess it depends on who you ask. To the casual observer, I may look like I’m twenty five. But I’m actually much older. Much much older. I’m also very tall. Perhaps this puts my face farther away from people than normal, making me look younger. Things that are further away always look younger. Right? Right.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Does a bruised ego count? I think the hardest thing putting something creative out in the world is dealing with rejection. Some people will not like it. Some people will hate it. Some people will hate you for making it. It can get personal. I think it’s a natural desire to want people to like you and the work you do. I think the effect multiplies by the amount of effort you put into something. If you put years into a work, do the best you can do, it can be hard not feel personally judged when people don’t like it.
Of course, you take the good with the bad. It’s very rewarding when people do enjoy your efforts.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
The biggest challenge for me is locking down the structure of the story that feels like it measures up to the potential of the idea. For my debut novel, I worked on version after version of the story structure for years. I was never satisfied that the working structure was the best possible version of the story. Finally, everything clicked and the story flowed.
Until that happens, until the beginning, middle and end of the story make sense, until all the pieces fit together in a natural and coherent way, the story
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t rush your stories. Don’t stop learning about the craft of writing. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you good writing is unlearn-able talent given to you by the gods at birth. There is craft in writing. There is structure, there is technique. You can learn those things. Its hard enough coming up with something relevant, or interesting, or meaning to say without having poor technique ruin it.
I’m the first to tell you, I’m no master. I still study structure. I love it.
How do you remain sane while working?
Sane? Like having pretend conversations, sometimes in your head, sometimes out loud, between fictional characters that you’ve made up who live in imaginary worlds that you’ve fabricated in extreme detail? I think you have to allow yourself to become a bit insane, by normal standards, when you’re writing. But then again, reading fiction, putting yourself into the minds of imaginary people, temporarily pretending to be them, experiencing their lives, feeling their emotions, that sounds a bit crazy too.
But sanity while not writing? Fortunately I have a lot of things that pull me back to reality and make me forget my lands of make believe for a while. I think fiction, either writing or reading, has to be balanced by a healthy dose of real life.
What has been the best experience you have ever had in your life?
This may sound like a pat answer but the best thing I’ve done so far in my life is being a parent. At no point in my life previous did I ever do the things for another human being that I’ve done for my children. I would’ve laughed had anyone asked me to do them. Wiping poop off another person’s bum? Its absurd. Waking up every two hours every night for six months to get someone some milk? Why would I do that?
Parenthood made me grow up. It made me put another person above myself. That’s a great thing, I think.
What was the most important thing you learned at school?
The most important thing I learn in school was that school only takes you so far. The rest is up to you. I learned what wanted to learn more about, if that makes sense. I learned the process of research, where to go for good information. I think the goal of a well rounded education is to leave you in a place where you know how to continue educating yourself. With any career you have to continue learning and progressing in your skills. I think a good education helps you do that.
Where to buy the book and find out more about Ben
You can meet Ben in a variety of places online; on his own website at: benburrell.com, on his Facebook page facebook.com/RedLeavesBook, on Twitter @BenDavidBurrell and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/author/show/5774509.Benjamin_David_Burrell
You can get your own copy of Gunshot Glitter on Amazon in the UK and Amazon in the US, and you can find my review on both these sites and on Goodreads as well. You can also grab the book on Barnes & Noble at: barnesandnoble.com/w/1111398970?ean=2940033234196
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/