To start the author interviews for this year is Ben Starling. A boxer, an artist, a writer, Ben interweaves his talents and love of life. Please give Ben a warm welcome and enjoy getting to know him.
Describe yourself in 150 words or less.
My passions in life (in addition to writing and art) are sports—especially boxing—and marine conservation. So of course, these had to feature prominently in my first novel! I still coach boxing and consistently choose to keep fit with sports based in or around water: Currently I’m fond of swimming and hiking along the canals in my neighborhood. I’m a freelance editor, working on business plans, articles published in specialist magazines and some fiction. After so many years of working on other people’s stories, it felt like the right time to create an original one of my own.
If you had a time machine, what decade or year would you like to travel to and why?
I’d either travel back to seven months before I was born (I was two months premature) and ask my parents, “Do you really think this is a good idea?” or forward seventy years – to see if the planet has been destroyed. If it’s still here, it would be cool to meet my great-grandchildren.
Tell us about your published works.
I have just published a short story set in the same world as my upcoming novel, Something in the Water. The novel, will be released on January 21, 2016.
The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…
What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life? On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.
When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.
If you could pick someone to be with in a fighting ring, who would you pick?
In fact I used to spar with past Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, when we were younger. I was pretty upset when he allowed the dumping of waste in the waters off the Great Barrier Reef to enlarge a Queensland coal port. Economics before the environment, once again. But what use is economics when there’s no environment? He’s left office now but the problem remains unresolved.
Did you go the traditional route or did you DIY publish?
I have just indie released my short story and am looking forward to an indie launch of my novel, Something in the Water, as well. Independent publishing is one of the most exciting changes happening in any industry these days and is largely an online phenomenon. It’s morphing at lightning speed and no one knows what will happen next. It’s fascinating – and a fun challenge!
And one of the nicest things about online publishing is the interactive component – reading and writing have become a two-way street as readers and writers reach out to each other over the internet and around the world. Traditionally, writing was a very lonely occupation. It’s a great time to be a writer!
“When you wrap up your past, you unwrap a perfect present.” ~ Ben Starling.
Okay, I admit this one is by me (it appears in Something in the Air). The point is many of us are trapped in the past, allowing it to influence and limit our futures. We need to break free!
What is your writing process?
I suspect my writing process is heavily influenced by my belief that all things in our world are interconnected. When I write, I try to be mindful of the obvious and subtle relationships between the plot strands, the characters, the locations and the novel’s premise. When a story is woven tightly enough, if you pull away one element, the whole structure should collapse. So it’s a drawn out process of drafting, revising and trial-and-error testing. And I love every minute of it!
How, in practical terms, do I attempt to achieve this? I map my planned tendrils and plot strands, walk beside the canals near my home for inspiration between editing rounds, and let the problems unravel themselves as they take on a life of their own. Then I run the components through a spreadsheet to check timelines and that I haven’t missed anything in the Hero’s Journey…or scribble on the Post-it notes that decorate my walls (which can be moved around, as necessary).
Then it’s write, rewrite, rewrite again…until it begins to feel better. At which point I will read it aloud before passing it on to my long-suffering editor.
When you’re not writing, where can people find you hanging out in the virtual world?
Bragging rights. This is your moment to tell us about how awesome you are. Give us your best Bragalicious Session.
I am too modest to admit that one of my superlatively attractive character traits is that I never brag. Ever. Oh, okay. When I was twelve, my school entered me for a national schoolboy sports competition—throwing the cricket ball. The rules were you had to enter two competitions so they also entered me in the javelin (I’d never thrown one in my life). I came 2nd in the cricket ball…but with my very first throw of the javelin, I won that competition! A compete fluke of course because the favorite had withdrawn the day before. I never threw the javelin again, why would I? I’d peaked.
Upon request, Ben sent me a favorite travel picture. This is what he had to say about it.
Bora Bora: It’s a French protectorate in paradise – so it combines South Seas charm with baguettes! More importantly, it’s where I met a Polynesian fisherman who described his ancestor and death beliefs. He was a “glass is two-thirds full” kind of guy. What he believed in was hopeful, uplifting and I’ve included it as an important theme in Something in the Water.
Not only is Ben a writer, but an artist. Here’s why he drew the below picture.
As for the picture: I enjoy drawing wildlife and ocean scenes and experimenting with perspective. This was drawn by hand, not digitally. I suppose the challenge was what excited me. Only by studying the picture can you understand what is real and what is reflected in it…a bit like life. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
If you enjoyed reading about Ben, please don’t hesitate to purchase his book or follow him on social media.
Original and Oxford Blue,