About Ginger Bensman:
I was awarded a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Maine in Orono in 1993 and spent 25 years directing programs for at-risk children and their struggling families. But I was always a writer too, even when there were only corners and patches of time and taking those moments for writing felt like I was stealing. Now I happily write whenever I want (whenever I’m not reading or gardening or watching my grandsons grow).
I live in Salem, Oregon with my husband Walt.
What inspires you to write?
There’s nothing like getting lost in a really great book, books by the likes of Andre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility–the list goes on and on. When I read a really beautiful book or line or paragraph or page,I want to write something as rare and fine.
Tell us about your writing process.
I begin with an idea or a set of related ideas that capture my interest and seem to suggest potential for a narrative. I spend time making a very rough outline and researching. Once I know where the story begins and ends, and can imagine the “voice” of the piece, I begin writing the prose. Writing the prose is the thing I love best about writing. I move forward one line at a time. It’s very painstaking. When I’m “laying track”, I’m imagining the scene, digging for the telling detail, and working to get the language “right.” If I am able to maintain deep involvement, the story begins to tell itself and the experience of writing can become a kind of altered reality. It’s transcendent.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When my characters appear on the page, I listen to what they have to say. Once a story takes off, it has an internal consistency. I think my subconscious knows where I’m wanting to go even when the rest of me is not so sure. My characters can often give me insight from inside the story.
What advice would you give other writers?
My advice is to read really excellent authors in your genre and get a firm handle on the classics. Know what makes a good story. Then buy, read, and highlight (for further reference) some time-tested books on writing; two of my favorites are The Art of Fiction by John Gardner and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. If those don’t work for you, there are plenty of other great books on writing to help you refine your technique and give you inspiration. The important thing is to pick a couple that you can relate to, and really dive into them. And try not to get discouraged. Good writing is an art; doing it well takes time and practice.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I took my time weighing the merits of self publishing versus moving through the steps to find an agent and then, hopefully, a publisher. I ended up going the self-publishing route because I believe Amazon has changed the publishing landscape in ways that benefit indie authors and because I wanted more control. It seems to me that unless a writer already has brand appeal and a waiting market for his/her books there is less and less likelihood and/or benefit for an author to be picked up by a publisher. Agents/publishers expect a book to come to them already edited and polished, a significant expense that is now born by the author alone, additionally, the writer is expected to develop a platform and advertise their book themselves. Yes, agents and editors are gatekeepers, and it would be a wonderful endorsement to have your book “selected”, and yes, there is a glut of independently published books competing for attention and it can feel impossible to find a readership, but I think the trade offs are definitely in favor of indie books. Ask me again next year and I’ll let you know how it works out. .
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Right now the business of publishing is like the wild west, but one thing is incontrovertibly true, there are more enthusiastic readers than ever, just check out Goodreads and LibraryThing. I keep hearing rumors that bookstores are ready to reclaim some of their market share and I hope it’s true, but I doubt it. The market for e-books will continue to grow. Self publishing will become even more efficient and effortless than it is now. Amazon will continue to expand, innovate, and democratize it’s book business. And to keep their brand afloat, publishing houses will compete with each other to sell editing and marketing services to indie writers .
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Literary, Contemporary, Paranormal, Memoir, Action Adventure, Romance and Memoir
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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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.