Posted on 12/07/2016 at 12:00 AM by Jeffrey Bruner
Stacy Bennett’s advice to her fellow authors on hiring outside help included the comment that even if your contractor isn’t a good fit, it’s never truly a “mistake” — you’ll learn something from it.
You can see that same attitude in play with her decision to pursue writing, as it turns out. Bennett wrote stories as a kid, fell in love with poetry class as a teen, and wrote a novel as a recent high-school grad, but it was never something she considered a practical career.
Years later, when her then-husband decided to work on a novel, Bennett found herself falling back into the swing of writing. The marriage ended, but she clearly learned something from it: that she loved writing and wanted to pursue it
Bennett has two epic fantasy/paranormal works out now — Son of Anubis and Quest of the Dreamwalker — and is hard at work on a third. She took a quick break to catch us up on how she arrived at this point.
SADYE: You were clearly always interested in writing; what was the tipping point for pursuing that as an adult?
STACY: At one point, when I was married and our lives had been turned upside down by struggles within the marriage as well as money issues and a move, my husband-at-the-time began to spend his free time writing the Great American Novel.
That gave me more free time in the evening as well, and since I already had one written, I went back and revisited it. For months we slaved away and edited. It was quite fun, and I wrote more, and more freely, than I ever have. ...
The marriage eventually failed, and that divorce shook a lot of things loose for me. I started thinking of life differently. I went back to school for massage therapy, which was my wheelhouse but outside of family expectations, and began to think I could sell my book, too.
I started editing in earnest, trying to query agents, trying to learn whatever I could to “break into the business.” And when I started writing flash fiction weekly, I was hooked, agent or not, published or not — I really wanted to keep writing.
SADYE: You encouraged other writers not to be afraid to hire outside help with things like editing, cover design, etc. — what advice would you give them on that?
STACY: The “right fit” is often a matter of serendipity and being in the right place at the right time. The best thing you can do to recognize those moments is to listen to your gut. Follow your intuition.
And I’m not talking about picking someone who just makes you feel good about what you already have. Someone who just blows pretty words up your butt isn’t helping you. You know when someone is honestly trying to improve your project and when they aren’t.
So be honest with yourself and wear a flannel shirt over that thin skin. (Don’t worry; I have it, too, and it’s probably thinner than yours.)
Now, sometimes your gut may be wrong. Or, more likely, you may have misheard what it was telling you. But it’s never a mistake. You will learn something, even if it’s not a good fit.
Still, it doesn’t feel good when it’s not right, so do your homework. Ask around. If you’re a writer, you probably know other writers. Who did they use? How was the experience?
As far as the right price, that is between you and your wallet. I do advise not bankrupting yourself early on in the hopes of hitting it big. The business side of this takes a while to build up (for most of us).
SADYE: Of the books that have stuck with and inspired you, what about them — if you can identify it — inspired you and helped shaped your own writing?
STACY: Looking back, I realize now I always had a thing for human culture, the kind of culture that involves initiation rituals and creation myths and taboo practices. Humans are so varied in what matters to them and how they organize their society. And the rules that we grow up with really impact a character’s motives and choices.
I enjoy writing fantasy as opposed to realistic fiction because, as Neil Gaiman puts it, fantasy can bypass our prejudices. It uses a backdoor to your heart. Fantasy can show us a truth about ourselves without us seeing it as a mirror in the moments we are reading. We can learn how to look past such distinctions as race, gender, nationality to see that we are all human underneath.
A good fantasy story lets a reader experience, through the eyes of a character, this ability to understand and love the “Other.” In Lord of the Rings, we understand that dwarves and elves don’t like one another, but we can also see how Legolas and Gimli could become friends. ...
I am inspired to write about characters as members of their clan, not just as individuals. In Dreamwalker, one of the main characters is an outcast from his culture. He detests his heritage. Circumstances will push him to confront that, but without the backdrop of culture, his conflict wouldn’t have meaning.
What clan we come from is part of who we are, and like much of science fiction/fantasy, we can either use it for hate or for understanding.
SADYE: What is the toughest part of writing for you?
STACY: I just can’t put the editing down. My stories are never truly and completely DONE. Letting go is something I really struggle with. (Yes, pity my children when they try to leave the nest.)
I am constantly turning one or more of my stories over in my head as I go about my day. And of course that leads to small discoveries — previously unnoticed but incredibly cool connections you made without realizing it. And then of course you want to tweak it so any literary archeologists would know that you had that connection in there, however subtly. ...
It really requires a straitjacket, two thugs, and a very fast courier to get my manuscript out of my hands and to the publisher the final time.
SADYE: What has been your proudest moment as a writer?
STACY: Quest of the Dreamwalker is in the process of being turned into an audiobook. Listening to my story read back to me by a professional voice actor has been the biggest thrill yet.
I felt like I’d finally achieved what I’d been seeking. I was completely beside myself. And yes, if you must know, I did actually “squee” and do a little dance in the privacy of my office. I’ve never felt more like a writer in my life.
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Categories: Author Interview