Ben S. Reeder
Author Interview Questions
1: Hi, and thanks for joining today. In your own words tell us about yourself, not you the author, but just you!
A: Well, first, I’m a child of the 80s, which really dates me. Born in Hawaii, raised in Texas and lived in Missouri since 1990. I knew when I was young that I wanted to experience a lot of things, and my life has reflected that. I’ve been in the Air Force, worked at a poultry farm, a group home for developmentally disabled adults, as a house painter, at a New Age bookstore (second best job ever), as a massage therapist and in customer service. I’ve also played in the SCA, various LARPs and I’ve been an avid gamer since Basic D&D came in a box with Keep On the Borderlands. I also do a podcast with several of my friends, Geek Fanthology. I have two step-kids and six grandkids.
2: Why did you decide to become an author and what’s the best part? Yeah, it’s a double-whammy of a question. So unexpected!
A: You sneaky little otter you! Slipping me a double whammy. As to why I decided to become an author. That goes back to my youth. I think I always knew I’d do some sort of storytelling. When other kids were out daydreaming of being famous athletes or rock stars, I was in the backyard creating elaborate settings with action figures and scrap from my dad’s garage, making up stories about epic battles and heroic quests. My mom kept telling me I should write some of it down, and in high school, I started doing just that, penning a pulp style action series I called “Omega Force.” I ended up giving it to one of my friends one day to read, and it ended up going through six other sets of hands with notes at the end telling me to write more. But when my English teacher intercepted the hand-off one day, I think my fate was sealed. He had me come pick it up after school, and told me I was a decent writer, with the potential to be a good one. He kept pushing me to improve my craft all through high school.
The best part about being an author? I get to do what I love for a living, and being an author gives me a level of freedom I’ve never had before. As long as I have a computer and internet access, I can write from anywhere.
3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it and why it will capture us?
A: Ah, The Demon’s Apprentice series, my current primary focus. You should read it because of the characters. Chance is a damaged character struggling for redemption, tough as nails on the outside but vulnerable once you get past his defenses. And the supporting cast in the series is equally fun. His mentor is a wise-cracking rogue wizard, his best friend is a gangly nerd with more guts than common sense, and his girlfriend is an alpha level werewolf. He hangs out with a cambion (half-human, half-succubus) prostitute who knows the mystical underworld like the back of her hand.
The stories are full of action, drama and what has been described as one of the more realistic and understandable magick systems out there. If you cheer for the underdog, if you like your heroes a little dark and your villains even darker, then The Demon’s Apprentice series is for you.
4: Why did you choose the genre you write in over others to start your publishing career? Did others appeal to you more and you chose this? Was there a bit of choice weighing or was it rather simple?
A: I’ve always been a fan of fantasy and urban fantasy, so it made sense that I’d start there. As to how I ended up writing YA, I think the best answer there is “By accident.” The Demon’s Apprentice started as a background story for a character in a role-playing game, but the game and the story in my head went in different directions. So I kept writing the story in my head, and ended up with a novel.
5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?
A: The hardest part about being a full time author is the detail work. Handling finances, taxes and, most importantly, time management. My greatest enemies in the battle against time management? Angry Birds and Fallout 4. Or any pleasant distraction on Facebook.
6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?
A: Conventions! I love being able to hang out with other fans and geeks and sharing that little bubble of space and time where we get to be ourselves unabashedly for three days. Like my readers, I’m a fan. Any time I get to hang out with other fans is a good day.
7: Tell us about what your experiences in the author life have been like. I don’t mean the writing aspects. I mean the daily human life. Tell us what it’s like to live the day life you do and be an author at the same time. What’s it like when people in your life and, the people you come across, find out you’re an author?
A: Being an author full time is a lonely job. I usually spend most of my day at my desk pounding out words or doing research. Some days I’ll grab my laptop and go to one of the local game shops to get something like social interaction. I avoid coffee shops, mostly because I’m not a big coffee drinker but also because that isn’t where my tribe hangs out, as it were.
When people find out I’m a writer, it usually happens in stages. First they find out that I write, then they find out I write full time. Around here, the first reaction is usually polite interest. Then when they find out I do it full time, they act surprised that they’ve never heard of me. Because aren’t all full time writers famous or something?
8: Writing is a hard craft and a harder career. What are the things that keep you going, both in improving the craft and enduring the downs/lows of the career?
A: Really, the thing that has buoyed me at every stage of my writing since I first published has always been my readers. Whenever I’ve hit a low spot, it never fails that someone drops me a line to say something nice, or ask me when the next book is coming out so they can get their next fix.
9: What do you love about the genre you write and what others appeal to you?
A: Urban fantasy is very accessible as a genre. It gives a writer the opportunity to take things that are already part of our modern mythology and build their own interpretation into them. So suddenly vampires can be something new and different. Werewolves are sexy. And so on. We’re basically taking myth and retasking it to create completely new stories that cast our favorite monsters and heroes in a new light.
Steampunk is a genre I’ve enjoyed reading, and one I’d love to be able to write well, but it’s also a tough one to get right. It requires, I believe, a level of immersion and dedication to the mindset that isn’t easy to do casually. Of course, I grew up on epic fantasy and sci-fi, so I’d love to do some work in those genres.
10: What can we expect from you next? Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.
A: The Demon’s Apprentice series, will, of course, continue. I’ve also planned a spinoff series for Lucas after high school, as he continues the fight against the dark aspects of the supernatural. I’m also working on a series I’d like to submit for traditional publication that is post-apocalyptic urban fantasy. In the pipeline, I also have a Weird West steampunk collaboration I’m working on, a portal fantasy I’m about half-way finished with, a couple of superhero stories and a military sci-fi story that are in the early stages of development. And a paranormal dystopian series that I want to do.
11: The writing and publishing world has changed a lot. Self-publishing, small to medium presses popping up, and things like becoming a hybrid between indie pubbing and traditional. What are your thoughts on that? Any predictions on what the future might hold? What would you like to see, both as an author yourself, and, as a consumer/reader?
A: I’m firmly in the hybrid camp. Self-publishing has democratized the field of publishing, allowing writers to release the stories people want to read. And I firmly believe that those writers who persist WILL make it. The publishing industry has begun to favor the independent bookstore once more with the arrival of Amazon on the scene, since smaller businesses can respond faster and more precisely to their local customer base better than a national chain can craft a generic response for all of its stores. Independent bookstores can also do things big stores can’t, like order from certain distributors with different return policies.
Unlike a lot of naysayers, I also think that the publishing industry, while changing, is not going anywhere. In fact, the rise of the self-published author has become an unlooked for blessing to the Big Five, since it allows them to find new talent with less risk, writers who bring with them an established reader base that will only add to the publisher’s efforts. Publishers are already adapting to this.
12: The always done and asked question. Who are your favorite authors? What are you favorite books? What are you reading now? Tell us. Tell us!
A: Let’s see. Jim Butcher is one of my faves for modern authors, and Kim Harrison. I grew up as a fan of Heinlein, Tolkien and Asimov, but one of my favorite lesser known legends of sci-fi is H. Beam Piper, especially his Little Fuzzy books. One of my favorite all time books is Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino. That one had a strong early influence on me as an aspiring writer, as did Ariel by Steven R Boyett. But the book that turned me into a writer? Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher.
13: I’ve got to know…what’s your favorite word to use. Every author has one. What’s the word you catch yourself using a lot? We’ve all got those as well. What’s your favorite word just to say? Something where you like the way it sounds. What’s your favorite curse worse, if you’ve got one and or use them?
A: My favorite word to find an excuse to use is usually my character’s name. There is something about naming a character in prose that I enjoy. The words I’ve caught myself using and have to eliminate are appeared/looked, was and basically or essentially.
Favorite expletive: Damn. When used properly, it comes off as very English. Understated and therefore perfect to show how deeply screwed things just got.
14: Tell us about your latest release!?
A: Well, not this month, but my last release was Charm School, at the beginning of August. My next release is going to be “In Absentia,” a series of short stories that take place while Chance is away at boarding school.
15: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!
Click on any of the below links to find out about Ben and his work!
A: I’m working on a new website, but for now: www.chancefortunato.com is my primary website.
“You ought to write some of this stuff down! You could be a writer!” These are words of wisdom from my mom, and lo and behold, I finally listened.
I’ve been writing since high school, and reading since I could reach the bookshelf. I was born into a military family, spent four years in the Air Force after high school, and books have always been my friends, my escape and my window to other worlds. When I wasn’t exploring other worlds via words, I was exploring some of the more interesting nooks in the real world. I’ve been a gamer since D&D came in a cardboard box, played in the Society for Creative Anachronism on and off for two decades, and worked in everything from video game arcades to poultry farms to a New Age bookstore (best three years of my life).
My own reading tastes run to urban fantasy and the occasional steampunk story.
I love my readers, and extend my thanks to each of you. Every writer owes their success to their fans. Thank you, True Believers.