Hi guys! It’s Kester here, and I just interview Tom Twitchel, author of the Benjamin Brown series. I am currently reading the second book “Sleight” which I can see much improvement from the author! I’m very engaged in the book! Here’s a special interview enjoy!
1. What is your book “Knack” about?
A boy in his early teens suffers a horrific event and runs away from home. In the process he discovers latent supernatural gifts that help him set up a life ‘off the grid’. He is soon confronted with several dilemmas, including a difficult choice: continue to hide or risk everything to save the people he has come to call family.
2. What inspired you to write your book?
Years ago several kids that worked for me (in our family restaurant) were immersed in the Harry Potter movies. Their enthusiasm, and Rowling’s great source material gave me the idea for this story which is set in the contemporary world with no wizards but plenty of magic.
3. How long did it take you to draft, revise, and edit your books? How about the publication process?
It took me over a year to write ‘KNACK’. It was originally over 700 pages. After working over it with Beta readers and a great editor I came up with the finished book. It was tough to lose so many subplots and characters but the story was definitely improved. Publishing took about ten months. Cover art, interior design (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) all took much longer than I had anticipated.
4. What is your writing process like? What do you do when you have writer’s block?
Before I start writing I have the entire story (and the ending) worked out. I then work up a detailed backstory for each major character so that when I write them, their voices are recognizable and unique to them and their motivations make sense to the reader. Internal logic to a story is really important to me, and keeping characters true is crucial to accomplishing this. When I hit a lull, or block, I read!
5. How would you describe your style of writing?
Naturalistic and character driven. One of my favorite TV shows was Firefly, produced by Joss Whedon. That kind of writing, pace, dialogue and character-focused story telling inspires me.
6. Why do you like writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I guess all of the questions above kind of answer this a bit, but I love to write mostly because I love to read. I’ve been a voracious reader since I could pick up a book. The early stuff that I read was turn of the century fiction that was very structured and heavy on atmosphere.
7. Have you written or attempted to write any other works?
I’ve completed three novels: KNACK, SLEIGHT (the sequel to Knack) and Clandestine. I’m currently writing a thriller called ‘Sticks and Stones’ which deals with the devastating consequences of bullying in a small town, and ‘TRICKERY’ the third novel about Benjamin Brown.
8. Who are your favorite authors? Who has affected your writing style?
Wow, that would be a really long list! But the authors that inspired me at different points in my life are Heinlein, Harper Lee (yes, To Kill A Mockingbird which everyone should read at some point), Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Ken Follett (Pillars of The Earth is one of the best books I’ve ever read!), Lee Child, Rowling and Preston & Child.
9. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?
I love almost all fiction and my reading tastes range far and wide (no vampires or romance though!). Twice a year I purposefully pick and read a mainstream novel that is outside my wheelhouse. This past year it was ‘The Girl On The Train’. My favorite books represent another lengthy list, but in addition to the two mentioned above…the original John Carter of Mars books, The Hobbit (not as big a fan of LoTR which I know won’t earn me any love), The Cabinet of Curiosities, The Dark Tower, All My Sins Remembered, More Than Human and several other obscure out-of-print novels by sci-fi greats.
10. Who is your favorite character? Is there a character based on you?
In my books? My favorite character would probably be Mr. Goodturn. He started out as a plot device and became a person with an unimaginably rich history. His nobility, and pragmatism, have been developed over his long life.
No characters are based upon me, but I like to think that Benny’s morality and best moments have a little of my ‘best self’ in them.
11. If you were a natural, what would be your knack? What would you do with it?
Thanks for not grouping me with the Shades, haha! If I belonged to the Melior/Natural community I would love to have Goodturn’s ‘slowing’ ability. I would use it to slow down my personal time so that I would be less clumsy and break fewer dishes!
12. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or a full-time job for you?
I love to work in the garden, read, watch film (love movies!) and occasionally create original art. The rest of the time I’m a business consultant and a commercial real estate agent. I have had a long career in the restaurant industry and it’s that experience that fuels the dialogue in my stories because I’ve worked with so many great people. So, that being said, writing is, at present, a part-time job.
13. How did you feel when you found out that your book would be published?
Kind of tired. Just kidding, although when it finally gets published it represents a lot of work by a lot of people. Maybe the best example of ‘thrill’ or exhilaration was when I received my first professional review and it was super positive. When the review showed up in my email I was nervous about reading it, and by the time I finished I was overcome. When a reviewer who makes their living critiquing authors says positive things about your work it’s a pretty amazing feeling.
14. Do you have any tips to recommend to aspiring writers?
I recommend starting with the end in mind. Don’t start writing a story without knowing how it will end. Many independent authors make this mistake, and the result is an uneven narrative that typically loses steam in the last third of the book. Two other strong recommendations: when you finish the first draft have at least three or four people read and critique your work (not passionate fans, but people who will be honest) and when you’ve incorporated their recommendations definitely, absolutely, positively work with an editor. Many, many…many…independent authors publish without the help of an editor (even those who have sold thousands of books!) and it is the number one reason why they might not break through. I was recently reading a very popular indie author whose books are so huge (700-900 pages) that she doesn’t publish paperbacks (the indie publishing economics would result in a book that size being priced at over $30!). Even though she’s super talented and writes fun imaginative fiction, there are hundreds of one star and two star reviews that complain very loudly about the lack of editing. Why skip the editor help?There are several types of editing: Line editing corrects punctuation and minor formatting errors and costs 1 to 2 cents per word. Copy editing, the most important, includes line work but also plot and pacing improvement and can cost up to 7 cents a word. If a 700 page book contains 200,000 words, that adds up to…yup…$14,000. So beware!
15. What other books are in the series? How’s the third book coming along?
Wow, I went off on a speech on that last question. The third book in Benjamin’s adventures is tentatively titled ‘TRICKERY’. I’m toying with others…’Resonance’’Magick’, but we’ll see. I’ve completed the first four chapters. Benjamin has discovered a devastating secret from his past, and with a friend, heads south to find out what really happened to his mother and what other details have been hidden from him by Goodturn.
Thanks once again to Tom for once again requesting for a book request! I do hope that your series will come along greatly!
If you want to buy any of Tom’s books, here’s the links:
Knack: Amazon | Barnes & Noble