Author name: Alice Benson
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Books: A Year in Her Life (2019), Her Life is Showing (2014)
What’s your story and how did you become a writer? I’m a writer, a reader, a spouse, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, and a dog lover. I recently retired from a job in the human service field, but I have part-time work to help me make the transition. Spending time with family and friends is a constant priority. I also belong to a number of social action groups, focused on ending violence and promoting racial justice.
I’ve always loved to read. Some of my happiest childhood memories are days spent lying in the shade of a walnut tree with a bag of cherries and a book. I love words and I dreamed of writing something that other people would find meaningful. I’ve written for the majority of my life, but mostly I wrote pieces of things: rough drafts of stories, half an essay, one act of a play, and small pieces of a novel. When my children grew to adults and moved away from home, I decided to get serious. I found a class and a teacher, and I took pieces I’d written and strung them together into the cohesive story I wanted to tell for my first novel. After that, I just kept writing.
How do you balance your work with other demands? I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I do my best writing in the morning, so I try to get up early and write for an hour or two every morning before I jump into the day.
Name one of the happiest moments in your life: Not to be a cliché, but giving birth to my three children was amazing. Receiving that first book contract from my publisher was a close second.
What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I’m definitely a “pantser.” I don’t outline or plan ahead. I just start writing and see where it takes me. Often, I start with one idea in mind and end up in a completely different place, because the writing takes on a life of its own. I once wrote a story about a stripper who gets bitten by a monkey. I started it as a light, humorous piece, but it changed into a darker, more intense story about sexual abuse and lost dreams.
Could you write in a café with people around? I write in cafés fairly often. I have a writing group I get together with in a coffee shop twice a month. It’s great motivation to just write for two hours.
Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? I wish I knew another language well enough to write dialogue in it, but I don’t.
What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? I don’t have a favorite book, but I’ve been touched by the writing of Roxane Gay, Therese Mailhot, Celeste Ng, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, and Kathie Giorgio, among many others. I recently read Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and loved it. I enjoy a variety of genres, and reading great writers inspires my writing to be better. At least, I hope so.
What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? Paperbacks are my favorite.
Do you think print books will always be around? I believe we will always have print books. There’s nothing to take the place of the feeling of the pages.
Would you ever read a book on your phone? I read on my phone now and then. It’s nice to have a book always available.
What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else? I have an iPhone.
How long could you go without checking your phone? I love movies and always turn off my phone, so I can go at least 2 hours.
Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I listen to audiobooks while walking my dogs. I’ve been able to increase the number of books I read in a year by listening to audiobooks.
Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? As many writers do, I find marketing and self-promotion challenging. I think Twitter is my favorite platform, because I’ve found so many supportive writers in the Twitter community.
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