Meet the Author – Larry Benjamin – WHAT BINDS US

It’s my pleasure today to have a fellow Carina Press Author, Larry Benjamin, as my guest, talking about writing, his book WHAT BINDS US and other fun subjects!

Please tell us a little about yourself:

I was that nerdy, sensitive kid everyone avoided.  To keep loneliness at bay, I used to make up stories in my head and create all sorts of interesting people.  Then I discovered books and a whole new world was mine for the taking.  Once I read The Great Gatsby, I knew what I wanted to do.  I read everything by Fitzgerald and then discovered his short stories.  I began writing my own.  Short stories were my first love but an agent once told me I needed to write a novel before I could publish short stories so I continued writing short stories but kept them to myself.  Then I saw the movie Philadelphia and hated it.  I was very vocal about my -dislike in the local paper.  Someone wrote back and asked if I could do better.  That’s when I sat down and wrote what would become What Binds Us.  No publisher or agent was interested.  Crushed, I put it away; it sat in a drawer for nearly 20 years.

What prompted you to start writing?

I’ve always written—as I’ve always read but I never really thought about publishing until I got laid off from my job a couple of years ago.  Both my partner and I were unemployed at the same time so it was a pretty tarrying experience.  I kept wondering what I would do if I never got another job.  That’s when I pulled What Binds Us out, edited it again and started sending out to publishers.  Getting it published gave me the confidence to finish and send out Damaged Angels.

3. What’s your writing process? Where do you write?

From a process point of view, I’m pretty unstructured.  I don’t have set hours to write or a set number of words to write per day.  I don’t even write every day—unless I’m editing under deadline.  I don’t outline, though I sometimes make notes about characters or plots.

Typically I get an idea for a story and I flesh it out in my head before I write anything down.  Then I figure out how the story ends.  Once I have an endpoint I begin writing, creating characters and situations geared towards reaching that endpoint. I don’t write sequentially.  I just write as the ideas and words come to me and then once I have everything written down I start organizing chronologically so it makes sense—I do a LOT of cutting and pasting.  I also tend to write first drafts by hand in composition note books though, because I write anywhere and everywhere, also on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes whatever paper is at hand.  As I transcribe onto my computer I edit.  I’m a terrible typist and really slow so I have lots of time to edit.

I once posted a picture of by current work in progress—note books and stacks of paper and another writer wrote back: “frightening.”

While I tend to write everywhere even in the car (when I’m not driving) I do have a writing space on the third floor of our house.  We painted it chartreuse and hung some wonderful Miro posters so the room is filled with light and color which I find inspirational.  The dogs have their beds in there and usually keep me company when I’m writing.

(VS sez I’ve seen a photo of the chartreuse writing room and it is absolutely a haven where an author can spin magic with words.)

What’s your greatest extravagance?

Books.  I love books—the old fashioned hold I your hand, tree-killing kind.  I stick to hard covers for most books and indulge my passion in leather bound-books from The Easton Press and beautiful editions from the Folio Society.  Those get shipped in directly from the UK in these wonderful sacks marked “Royal Mail.”  It’s quite a sight to behold our post man hauling a sack up the driveway.

(Vs sez, ooohhhh, I want “Royal Mail”! LOL)

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

According to my Carina Press editor, I use “that” way too often.  I’m now highly aware of this and ruthlessly excise the word from all my writing.

(VS hangs her head in shame – “that” is my worst word too.)

Have you ever used an incident from real life in one of your books?

Absolutely. Early on in What Binds Us, the narrator tells a story of throwing away his bow tie one Sunday morning before church.  His parents search frantically and finally giving up he gets dragged off to church in a suit with no bow tie.  I don’t remember the incident but am told I did that.  It’s one of those stories that got passed into family lore.

Damaged Angels, my next book being released by Bold Strokes Books in October, is inspired by my three-year relationship with a crack-addicted hustler, so many of the stories there are based on real incidents.

Favorite TV Show: Glee

Favorite Movie:  The Great Gatsby (both the original with Alan Ladd, Jr. and the remake with Robert Redford)

Cats or Dogs? Dogs

Favorite Flower: Whatever you’d like to send me

Boxers or Briefs:  Boxer-briefs.  I’m all about compromise.

Favorite song: Where there was Darkness by Randy Crawford

What are you working on next?

We’re about to start edits on my next book, Damaged Angels, a collection of short stories being released by Bold Strokes Books in October.  In it I attempt to give literary voice to the usually invisible: hustlers and drug addicts, the mentally ill, people of color.

And I’m working on my next book, tentatively titled His Name Was Jose, another love story.  This book came about when I answered a Tweeted question from All Things Queer in South Africa (@AllThingsQueer.co.za): “How old were you when you first realised you’re gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer?”

I thought back to “the moment“ and quickly tweeted: “I was 12 & in 7th grade. He was the new kid. His name was Jose. He walked into 4th period music, smiled & changed everything”

And out of that 124 character tweet the idea for His Name Was Jose was born.  It’s a fun and interesting for me because while José was real, I never really knew him so casting him as the main character in a book is a challenge because I have to create the fictional Jose and figure out what his story is and what impact an unknown kid’s crush on him might have on his life.

What one question do you want to ask your Readers today?

I’ve heard from readers—and they either love the book or they don’t and they’re usually good about telling me why.  What I’d really like to know though is why they chose to read it?  What made them pick it out and add it to their cart?

Where can your Readers find you online?

  1. Website  www.larrybenjamin.com
  2. Twitter https://twitter.com/WriterLarry   TwitterHandle = @WriterLarry
  3. Fan Page on Facebook facebook.com/AuthorLarryBenjamin
  4. Good Reads Author page –http://www.goodreads.com/writerlarry
  5. This Writer’s Life (Blog)  Http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5723405.Larry_Benjamin/blog
  6. E-mail:  larry.benjamin.writer@gmail.com

Buy Links for book:

Carina Press: http://ebooks.carinapress.com/CFD32031-C494-4508-9BF6-4943581C4ABD/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=1393C38B-7539-448A-B867-80847EB1140D

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Binds-Us-ebook/dp/B0070Y4EG0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329786918&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-binds-us-larry-benjamin/1108376044?ean=9781426893469&itm=2&usri=larry+benjamin

Audible:  http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B007APEO32&qid=1332698325&sr=1-1

Thanks for guesting with me today, Larry!

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4 comments on “Meet the Author – Larry Benjamin – WHAT BINDS US

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