About Ben Westerham:
I’m the author of two crime and mystery series. The David Good private investigator stories are set in 1980s London, featuring a PI in tune with his neck of the woods and in possession of some distinctly pliable morals. The Banbury Cross Murder Mystery stories are classic murder mysteries set in the rural market town of Banbury during the early 1960s, featuring the curmudgeonly Inspector Leslie Dykeman and the irascible Sergeant Stanley Shapes.
I place a big emphasis in my writing on strongly developed characters and my books invariably come served with a side-order of humour.
I was born in London and now live in rural Northamptonshire in the English Midlands, with my family and a heavily over-worked computer.
What inspires you to write?
Desperation. Well, of a sort. If I didn’t write then my head would go pop. The words and the stories pile in there all the time and they have to get out somehow, so if I didn’t write I’d quite likely go bonkers.
As for where my inspiration comes from, well that is largely a mystery. I do believe that our sub-conscious minds are immensely powerful and very likely the source of most of my writing ideas. It just sits there, ticking over all the time, processing everything I come into contact with, making connections I am not consciously aware of, some of which are then delivered to me as story ideas. It’s a wonderful process and one that works best for me when I don’t try to force things.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
Tricky question and one which, if you asked me it every day for a year, I’d probably give you, at least in part, a different answer every time.
I read about equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction and my tastes reach far and wide, so there’s bound to be a fair spread of authors. Let’s see then. Fiction first. P.G. Wodehouse is hilariously funny (writing genuinely funny stories is not an easy thing to do at all) and he created some fabulous characters.
Thomas Hardy wrote some wonderful stories and his descriptions of a rural world that was slowly disappearing are fabulous. I do, however, have to ration myself when it comes to reading Hardy for the simple reason that his stories so often have deeply unhappy endings, I’d soon find myself crying in a corner all day.
My favourite crime writer is Ruth Rendall. The extent to which she is able to inhabit the minds of her characters and understand every little facet of who they are is quite extraordinary. It’s the little details of largely ordinary people that I find especially fascinating. If I could ever write anything remotely like as well, then I would be a happy man indeed.
I’ll finish on a non-fiction writer, the historian Simon Schama. For me, his book Landscape and Memory is one of the best books ever, fiction and non-fiction. His story-telling puts many a fiction writer to shame and his grasp of immense amounts of material, which he weaves into a beautifully constructed theme, is something special to behold.
Tell us about your writing process.
I write into the dark. Some people refer to this as being a pantser, because I write by the seat of my pants. I have tried plotting, but I find this takes most of the fun out of writing and, for me, leads to predictable and uninspiring stories, which isn’t good for anyone, reader or writer.
It’s always fun and sometimes even exhilarating to let the characters lead you where they will. I find this particularly so when writing in the first person, as I do with my David Good books, because it feels as though you are right there with the lead character, listening to them, almost engaging in a conversation with them as they go about their business.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do. Well, no one else listens to me! OK, only kidding. When I write in the first person, then I feel as though I am right there with my main character, listening and watching, though I don’t ever go so far as to talk to him or her. I’m going to try that sometime, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to feel odd.
Writing in the third person is a little different. It’s more a case of listening to them talking to each other, with the added benefit that I can hear what’s going on inside their head.
What advice would you give other writers?
Simple, do it because you love it. I could say countless things about craft, money and any one of innumerable other topics that concern a writer, but most of all, always do it because you love doing it. I know I do.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I did start off looking to do things the old fashioned way, trying to hunt down an agent that would take me on, but I’m very entrepreneurial and independent minded, so when I found out that it’s possible to be an indie author, well, there was no other way for me. My mind was made up pretty quickly. I like the control and, also, the balance it brings to my life, with a mix of left and right sided brain activity. Perfection!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s bright, for those who are prepared to change. Things will, indeed, continue to change, to the benefit of both authors and readers. Technology is having an ever greater impact and there are things coming along, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, that will take us down new avenues, to some pretty exciting destinations. I think that so long as the essence of what I do is writing stories, then I’m happy and perfectly willing to have an open mind about how those stories reach my readers.
What genres do you write?: Crime, mystery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.