Today I’d like to introduce Ben Hennessy, author of YA fantasy novel Queen of the World. He is also one of the final authors to be featured in my series of interviews spotlighting Inspired Quill Press.
He’ll be sharing his journey to publication and some key advice for writers still on the quest.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, Queen of the World?
Queen of the World is the story of a young girl named Sarene, who lives in a world where peace is maintained by the word of the Four, all-powerful mages with the ability to do anything they wish. The rulers of each nation act according to a single rule: if they wage wars with their neighbours or mistreat their people, the Four will punish them. As such Sarene has grown up to believe that her kingdom, Tamir, is a peaceful and safe place to live in and one she would like to explore for herself. However the further she travels from her childhood home the more she comes to understand that not everything is as simple as she was led to believe. This story continues on into my latest release, The Whisper of Dreams
2. When did you know you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
Writing a novel was one of those bucket list ideas. I’ve always been interested to know if I could work on a single piece of fiction for an extended period of time and come out with something I was pleased with, but was of the opinion that my shocking attention span and lack of motivation would combine to ruin my attempt. I found myself with some spare time while travelling through several different countries in 2010 and decided to give it a serious try. I kept plugging away until it was finished and things have snowballed from there.
3. If you could attribute your writing success to one turning point in your life, what would it be and why?
I left a pretty solid career job to go travelling, and I knew I had to have something to show for it at the end aside from wicked stories and a bunch of digital photographs. Getting a dodgy back-alley tattoo somewhere in Thailand crossed my mind, but instead I thought to use the time I had to try and get a manuscript ready for when I returned to the UK. if I hadn’t finished it I doubt I would have tried. As to whether that could be determined a success… Well, it’s for other people to judge!
4. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
When I’m working on a project I try to get myself into a routine of starting around the same time every day, usually with a pre-ritual such as a cup of tea and a snack, a certain album or musical artist and the same chair. I tend to have a ‘book album’, so something which I play every time I work on a specific manuscript. It tells my brain that it’s time to work, and I hear the songs so many times I stop paying attention to them and distracting myself.
I try to get the first draft down as close to what I want it to be. I’m not the type of writer who blasts through a draft and then edits the hell out of it. I try to fix typos and grammar as I go along, take time to consider the scene I just wrote before moving on to the next, and generally stop myself getting too carried away. I think if I found I had to wipe half a manuscript for an error I didn’t see pick up on it would utterly dishearten me from continuing.
5. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
The hardest part is always starting. There’s too much other important stuff for any writer to be doing, such as watching cat videos on YouTube or browsing crab recipes on your phone. The best way to get past that is to always remember that it doesn’t matter if you write ten words a day or ten thousand. Eventually you’ll get to the end and have a piece of work in your library.
6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Getting carried away and having your characters do or say things that you weren’t expecting. It’s weird, and it’s rare, but it’s completely fantastic.
7. Why did you choose to publish with a small press?
I got talking to Sara of Inspired Quill through a chance meeting on a literary website and talked about the state of fantasy at the time (when vampires and zombies were still huge). I mentioned I’d recently completed a heroic fantasy manuscript and she invited me to send it to her. IQ liked it, said they were interested in publishing and sent me the contract to review. I was really pleased with their focus on being a social media enterprise and future plans to include classes and local events, and thought it was a great place for a new author like myself to progress.
8. If you could give an aspiring author just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Just write. Doesn’t matter if it’s a little or a lot. Keep adding to your work and the rest will take care of itself.
9. What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m working through Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett. One of my favourite books as a kid. It was very sad to hear of his recent passing. I hope Death is treating him well after all those years together!
10. Are you working on anything readers can look forward to?
I’m currently writing the third in the Queen of the World series. Check out www.hennessywrites.com for more information!
Ben Hennessy is an exciting new author from Essex, England. Brought up on a literary diet including the likes of Stephen King, David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett and David Eddings, he looks to take all these elements and create a unique style of fiction which blends heroic fantasy and a subtle sense of wry humour. Having spent the last decade working various jobs in locations such as Ireland, New Zealand and Vietnam, he is now hoping to forge a new career as a full-time writer.
Do you have questions for Ben? Feel free to ask them in the comments below!