Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Glenn Benest ~ an interview and his novel ~ INK

Glenn Benest

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself? (When did you first start writing etc)
A: I always wanted to be a writer, from poetry to playwriting to screenwriting and now to fiction. I had a very influential teacher in college, William Alfred (now deceased) who was the playwright of Hogan’s Goat and other well-known stage plays. He inspired me tremendously. I wanted to be a playwright as well but realized I couldn’t make a living at that, as only a very few playwrights actually support themselves writing plays – Neal Simon being the one who instantly came to mind at the time. So I was in L.A. and decided to write screenplays. But it was always the theater that I really had a great passion for – at least when I was starting out.

Q: Tell us about your book(s). (How many have you published, if this is your first is it exciting etc)
A: This is our first novel and is intended as a series of books. I wrote it with Dale Pitman, my writing partner. It actually started out as a screenplay and then evolved from there. We were tremendously encouraged by our manager, Mary Louise Gemmill from Writers Ascending who insisted the project would really work better as a novel. I had never written a book before so I was incredibly intimidated by writing one. But it didn’t take long for me to realize you could do so much more with fiction than you could with screenwriting – in terms of going much deeper into the psyche of your characters. Then it became a pure joy. We worked on this book for a good four years, getting lots of notes from Beta readers and doing multiple rewrites. I saw that it was getting better and better and that really kept us going during all this time. Now I have no desire to go back to screenwriting. I want to continue with fiction, writing more books about these characters.

Q: Writing horror – why?
A: I’ve always loved horror, beginning as a child being frightened by scary movies (including Carrie of course, Poltergeist, Jaws and many more). There’s something about horror that really relates to childhood experiences where there are forces beyond your control, and the wild imaginations that children have - the monsters under the bed and all things that go bump in the night. My first two screenplays were scary films, both directed by Wes Craven, the great master of horror. He taught me a lot about horror and how you get scares. But after those two films I didn’t want to be typecast as a horror writer so I branched out – doing thrillers and drama and biographies and every other genre you can think of. Now I’m returning to the thing that first inspired me to be a writer and it feels really good.

Q: Do you have a favourite character from your book(s)? Why?
A: I guess my favorite character is the supernatural entity that is the creation of our protagonist: The Highwayman. He’s been around for thousands, millions, maybe trillions of years, trapped by a timeless curse. He’s summoned by the cries of those who have been wantonly murdered and he gives them the chance for justice, either through vengeance or mercy. The Highwayman can’t see through the veil of how this happened, who cursed him or why – but he knows without his help those murder victims will be trapped on earth as ghosts, unable to transition to the afterlife, so his intervention is all important for their salvation. This character fascinates me as he’s terrifying to behold and yet sympathetic - as he’s unable to figure out his own background or identity. And in the course of our novel, he falls in love with a mortal being which makes his plight even more poignant.

Q: What is the hardest part of a book to write, beginning, middle or end?
A: I think I’d have to say the beginning. That’s the hardest part of a screenplay for me as well. Once I start and have pages done I can go over them and build some confidence. The beginning is really intimidating for me as I have all kinds of doubts about whether I really can pull this off, if I have talent and all the other fears that a creative person faces. But once I get going, I lose a lot of those fears and just knock out pages, knowing they aren’t perfect, I can always rewrite but at least they’re coming out one lonely page at a time.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: I have lots of advice for other writers but most of it comes out like this: Never give up. It’s not about how talented you are. That’s what I had to learn. I figured I had enough talent to get started, but it’s really about determination. What are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true? That’s the crucial thing you need. You need to be willing to pursue this profession no matter what the cost. I studied the great writers in high school and college (I was an English major). And I saw right away I couldn’t really compare myself with true geniuses like William Faulkner or F. Scott Fitzgerald or Tolstoy, etc, etc. But maybe I had just enough talent to do something that would be appreciated. So I learned how to tell a good story and I labored and labored to become better in the craft I had chosen. One thing I did have was determination and I was willing to go the distance no matter what sacrifices were required. And there was no Plan B. I had to make it happen no matter what.

Q: Is there any genre you won't write and why?
A: The only genre I have never attempted is science fiction. As I mentioned before I’ve written comedy and thrillers and westerns and, of course, horror. But I never really enjoyed science fiction as a child and haven’t really read much since. I know there’s great science fiction out there but it’s just not my thing. So I never tried to write in that genre because it’s just not in my D.N.A. It’s the same thing with super hero movies. I don’t really go see them or if I do, they don’t really reach me emotionally. It’s a little strange to admit that because the anti-hero of our novel – The Highwayman – is something of a super hero, a dark super hero at that. But INK is definitely not science fiction. It’s horror with a paranormal romance lurking at its heart.

Q: Do you have any odd (writing) habits?
A: There was a great screenwriter in the golden age of movies who used to write in his tub with a legal pad and pen and write his scripts. I thought that would be great but I didn’t like wrinkly skin. So now I sit on my couch with a pillow behind my back and write long hand on a legal pad as well. For some reason I can’t compose new pages straight into a computer. I need it to be long hand. Then at the end of the day I input it into the computer. The next day I’ll print out what I wrote and then go over those pages, polishing it as I go along and that gets me back into the world of my story. Once I’ve read over what I did the day before my mind is in the right place to continue on. It’s not easy to transition back to the world you’ve created, so that’s what helps me get into the groove for each day’s work. I always work from around 9:30 a.m. to around 1:00 or 2:00 pm. That would be a great work day for me. After that I get tired and a bit foggy headed. One thing I learned about Ernest Hemingway has helped me tremendously. He advised writers to stop writing when it was going good. That would help you when started the next day – stop when it’s flowing, not when you’re confused or blocked in any way. That will just carry over to the next day and help you immediately get back into the groove.

Q: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
A: Seriously determined, unable to do anything else (from cook to fix appliances or pound a nail), a lover of great literature.

Q: If you could invite one character from your books to dinner, who would it be?
A: I’m a crazy dog lover and one of my favorite characters in the book is the protagonist’s white German shepherd, who has extra sensory perceptions. He can sense when something is wrong but he’s handicapped of course because he can’t speak. One of my most sorrowful moments is when we had to cut a chapter about Deke (our dog) regarding his backstory. It just got in the way of the forward momentum of the story. But I will definitely get that chapter in for the next book. William Goldman, the great screenwriter, said you had to kill your babies sometimes in telling a good tale. Well this was surely having to kill one of our babies when we had to cut that chapter. And going back to the original question about inviting one of our characters to dinner – I have lots of good dog food as I have a new puppy at home. They’d definitely get along just fine and I’m sure my puppy wouldn’t mind sharing.

Q: Where can we get the book?

Q: How can we contact you?
A:Here are our social media links:

Glenn Benest

Dale Pitman

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