The amazingly talented Ben Henessy agreed to an interview for my blog, isn’t he great? So, without further ado, here’s BEN!!
What is your favourite book?
Legend, by David Gemmell. It’s the book that really got me into heroic fantasy as a genre, and Gemmell was one of the best at creating a pure story-driven novel. The lead character, Druss, is a great example of how to incorporate both rare strengths and glaring flaws; he is iferocious in battle, lives by an iron code and has exceptional discipline, but he finds social interactions tiresome and can be incredibly stubborn and single-minded. The story focuses on overcoming almost impossible odds and being ready to sacrifice everything for a cause, with regular people banding together to face tremendous adversity.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
I’ve always toyed with the idea. I wrote short stories and poetry as a teenager (probably like most teenagers?), keeping it up over the years. Published authors were other people, though, so I didn’t give it any serious thought. It was only when I discussed the idea of a full novel with my partner at the time, and whether I had it in me to actually complete it, that I decided to give it a shot with her support. Happily, I managed to finish that first draft nine months later, which is something I was immensely proud of… and pretty surprised too, being honest!
How did you feel when you found out Queen of the World was going to be published, and how did you celebrate?
It seemed a little unreal at first. I got the confirmation from Inspired Quill that they wanted to sign me to a contract, and I read that email several times over. It didn’t really sink in that I was going to become a published author. I was pretty broke at the time, though, so I think the celebration involved a frozen pizza and a six pack of beer. Pushing the boat out, right?
When that first printing of the book arrived at my house and I had a hard copy in my hand, though, I was dancing around the house. That was the moment that really made me think ‘Wow, I did it.’
How do you come up with such great character names?
Haha, cheers! I’ve borrowed a lot of names from previous iterations of these characters which I used in short stories and games. I used to take part in a lot of various text-based roleplaying games when I was younger. Forums, chat rooms and the like. It’s an excellent way to not only hone your writing skills and learn to adapt to different situations – excellent if you’re a ‘pantser’ kind of writer – but also to actually get inside the head of the character you’re writing about at the time. Sarene is a play on ‘serene’, if that wasn’t too obvious. Kanderil is a slightly Tolkien-esque name, something elven, which I wanted to associate with a character who spends most of his time living in the wilderness, in harmony with his surroundings. As for Spasmodic… well, he’s pretty much what it says on the tin. (Pro-tip; for characters who only show up in one paragraph such as bartenders or soldiers, don’t be afraid to try the name-generators you can find online!)
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Work for a video games company, which is fun and challenging. When I’m not doing that, I tend to spend too much of my free time watching YouTube videos. I like to get out of the house and head into town when I can, just to take a walk or grab a coffee and read for a while. I’m also a massive music enthusiast, so I spend a lot of time looking for new bands to check out.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
I’ve been asked this question a few times in interviews, and I always wonder who would truthfully answer it in a public forum like this one! I’ve had some pretty blinding moments of embarrassment in my life, but they’re stories best saved for the pub. At closing time.
If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?
Stabbing with an icicle. The murder weapon melts!
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Patience and ignoring self doubt. Writing is a lonely job, and most writers are their own worst critic. My inner critic actually sounds like Alan Rickman, which is cool. But nothing blocks the flow of words as quickly as thinking you’re writing absolute garbage, which in most cases isn’t true at all. Just remember that everything can be edited, or redrafted, or failing that rewritten. But keep writing!
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?
I don’t think so. Writing takes time and effort, so generally people only do it if they love words and literature. Maybe opening up your work for review, which invites the potential for someone you’ve never met to say ‘Well this sucked’. That can be daunting at first.
Finally, is there any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writer?
Just write. Whatever it is and however little time you have free on a particular day, just get something down on the page. Even if it’s just a sentence or two. You won’t complete your manuscript if you don’t add to the word count, so stay positive and bash those keys.
Thank you so much Ben, keep up the good work!!! xx
Ben is the author of the brilliant Queen of the World, (you can find my review for it here). Feel free to leave some comments!