Today’s spotlight is extra fun because it’s Author SF Benson’s birthday! So we are wishing you a very Happy Birthday from the Debut Collective! Also, a HUGE congrats on being nominated for Best Debut Novel in the UTOPiA Awards!
The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.
We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, SF Benson.
Please share a little about yourself and your background.
I’m a Michigan native, living in Georgia with my husband, a daughter, and a couple of miniature fur kids (two female short-haired guinea pigs). At one time our household included three Samoyeds, saltwater fish, a hamster, and three guinea pigs.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I had a hard time finding my niche. So instead of writing I had a variety of positions which ‘fed’ my creative brain—blogger/reviewer, customer service representative, veterinary assistant, marketing assistant, editorial assistant, receptionist, and even cashier for women’s clothing and shoes. I graduated from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo with a degree in Communications. I guess I’ve used facets of my degree in everything I’ve done.
I believe my struggle with writing was due to writing in the wrong genre, women’s fiction. It didn’t suit me and I gave up. It wasn’t until my husband approached me after I quit my last job that I plunged forward. I was stuck in the job search, nothing was happening. He told me to pursue my dream, but do it 110 percent. No half-attempts. So I entered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014 and completed my first rough draft.
I’m an avid bookworm, who appreciates a well-written book regardless of genre. As a kid, I read a little of everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Sylvia Plath. If it sparked my interests, which constantly changed, I read it. My longest obsession was probably with witches. I read a lot of nonfiction books on the topic.
Please share information on any published or upcoming books.
My first YA book, Regress: the Alliance Chronicles, released in March 2016. It’s the first book in a post-apocalyptic series, which takes place after the fall of the United States in the year 2025. Creativity has been banned. The new government of the American Republic is run by scientists and technologists. There’s a mandatory vaccine, given to only seventeen-year-olds, that has weird side effects on Creatives. There are two teens with a shared past. They team up to uncover a government conspiracy.
The Alliance Chronicles is a series about fighting for what you believe in. Tru Shepard believed in her right to make her own choices in her life. She fought, and grew up in the process, for her belief. She had to step out of her own way, put aside her fears and doubts, and embrace the possibility of greatness. Sometimes we have to do things we’re uncomfortable with in order to achieve our desires.
I have a zombie short story, “The RELIC Experiment” which will be published in a Dystopian anthology, And The World Will Burn. Proceeds from sales will go to the Amputee Coalition of America. Cameo Renae has written the foreword for the collection. There are fifteen stories in the book. It’s currently on pre-order at http://amzn.to/1YpI0LG
Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?
I have two stories in two different collections—Secret Identity (“Ever After”) and Against All Odds (“Cursed Hearts”).
Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.
He wiped my lower lip and licked his thumb. “You are magnificent.” His canines were lowered. “I’d never tasted a succubus before.” –Victor from “Cursed Hearts”
Ace stroked my hair. “You did good, darling. There won’t be much to clean up this time.” –Ace, “Ever After”
Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?
For “Cursed Hearts”, I love stories about succubi, but all the ones I’d read were about adults. Playing the ‘what if’ game I thought about the plight of a teenager. Kelsie is like any typical teenage girl—interested in boys and seeking love. Well, love can’t be easy for a succubus.
For “Ever After,” I wanted a strong supernatural but I didn’t want a super hero. I thought back to the legends and I thought about unnatural pairings. That’s how Morgan came about. Her parents are related to Dracula and Morgan le Faye, strong supernatural beings. She has a foot in each of their worlds. It makes her a hybrid with strong, unusual powers.
What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?
I’m a speculative fiction author writing primarily dystopian/science fiction and paranormal. I love answering the ‘what if’ question and these two genres allow me the freedom to explore that question.
Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?
No day is typical for me, but I do try hard to adhere to some sort of schedule. I try to get the social media things done first and then tackle business issues (right now those are marketing my book). After those things I work on whatever my goals are for the week. On my blog, The WordSmithe, I have a weekly featured entitled “The Soul of a Writer”. I post my goals for the week. So what I do each day reflects those goals. Right now, I’m re-reading “Rescue: the Alliance Chronicles, Book Two” before it goes out to beta readers. I’m also revising an urban fantasy, “A Demon’s Birthright”. It’s tentative release date is December 2016.
I am using Scrivener with the urban fantasy. Book Two of the Alliance Chronicles was written before I won a copy of Scrivener.
Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?
I’m a recovering pantser! “Regress” was written as a pantser. I’m notorious for over planning things. I start out working on an outline for “Regress” and I got bogged down with it to the point where I wouldn’t have gotten words on paper. So I scrapped it and just started writing. Good for the rough draft, but terrible for a finished product. It took five revisions for that book. With “Rescue” I found an outline necessary to make sure I didn’t skip over details needed to be covered. I think that anything fantasy-driven requires some sort of outline. Being an urban fantasy, I needed a ‘map’, if you will, to keep the details straight.
What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?
Oh man… tough question for a bookworm. I’m reading quite a few different things. Recommendations are definitely easier. When it comes to contemporary romance, three authors come to mind—Claire Contreras, Corinne Michaels, and Sunniva Dee. These ladies could write cookbook details and I’d buy them! Seriously. Their books are that good and I’ve read more than one. When it comes to the paranormal, I’d recommend anything by Stacey Marie Brown, Casey L. Bond, and Lila Felix. I love their writing styles. I just finished H.D. Gordon’s “The Company Store”. It’s a must read for fans of dystopia. Authors covering relative contemporary issues would be Venessa Kimball and Shawn McGuire.
What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” From Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society
Tell us 5 random facts about you:
- I’m a Michigan native.
- I used to show Samoyeds (I was the groomer and my husband was the handler).
- I’ve worked in a variety of industries.
- I was a Girl Scout leader for nearly 10 years.
- I’ve lived in three states.
Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?
I love music when writing. I create a playlist for each story I write. For the Debut Collective stories, I stuck with my general paranormal playlist. For “Ever After” I kept listening to Aerosmith “Jaded”. For “Cursed Hearts” it was Evanescence. It didn’t matter which song from that group, they’re all good.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?
I know it’s cliché, but don’t stop writing—ever! I wish someone had told me that back in the day. I know everything happens for a reason, including all the numerous jobs I’ve had, but I feel if someone had said that to me I may have finished a manuscript before 2014.
Participating in the Collective gave me the support I so desperately needed. I had others to bounce ideas off of, which is vital to being a writer. This path is a solo one in so many regards. It’s up to the individual to find a tribe, a village, to help lift them. Without support, a writer can easily slip into depression and never accomplish anything. We need our solitude to create, but we need people to feed our creativity. We want to be alone, but being alone 365 days, 24 hours every day is not conducive to success. It’s another reason why I didn’t get much done before Utopia. I knew I wanted to publish my book, but I needed people to: 1) educate me, 2) motivate me, and 3) encourage me. Without those things, The Alliance Chronicles would be sitting in a box.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Website or Blog: https://www.authorsfbenson.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/SFBenson/e/B01DI9Z58Q/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1