Brooks Benjamin interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: May 22, 2016 6:32:41 PM
Brooks Benjamin interview with David Alan Binder
Bio from his website: Brooks Benjamin lives with his wife and their incredibly spoiled dog. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte / Random House (April 12, 2016).
1. How do you pronounce your name?
Just like it looks, but I will say that my name isn’t Benjamin Brooks. I get that a lot.
2. Where are you currently living (at least the state or if outside US then Country)?
I’m currently living in Tennessee.
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
Oh wow. This is a tough one! I’ve learned so many things in the past few years. But I’d have to say the one that stuck with me the most is how important good beta readers, critique partners, and (for me) an editorial agent are. I thrive on good feedback.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
When I write, I’ve got to have noise to keep me on track. Sometimes it’s music and other times it’s just some sort of white noise. I also have to have coffee in a very particular coffee mug. I wrote my first book in the mornings so coffee was always there. And now, any time I write, I have to have it. Even in the evenings. Which isn’t always the best idea.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
My thought is that there is no right road to publication. Only what’s right for the person or book.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
My publisher is Delacorte/Random House. They’re based in New York.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I don’t have any experience with self-publishing, so my list of insights on that versus any other type of publishing is fairly empty. But I will say that I personally prefer books in print. I love the ease and immediacy of e-books, but I love the feel and smell of books just a little bit more.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
I’ll say what so many other writers told me: write the best book you can write. For me, that meant allowing others read my work and critique it, constantly editing while I write so I can make every sentence the best it can be, and always doing the most honest and rigorous research I can so my characters are as authentic as possible.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
For me, Twitter was my door into the world of publishing. I guess that falls into the realm of social networking, but following agents on there helped me get a sense of their personalities and literary wants. So when it came to querying, I knew which agents I’d love to work with and what they were really interested in.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Figure out what routine works best for you. I don’t adhere to the “write every day” rule. I know some people who do and I also know some people who only write on weekends because of work schedules. For me, I write in the mornings on Monday through Friday and occasionally at night before I go to bed. I don’t write on Saturdays because that’s the day I want to relax and spend time with my family and friends. But on Sunday, it’s on. I write from the time I wake up until around two or three in the afternoon. And I drink a ton of coffee while I do it.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
I learned that I’m not a writer who churns out a quick first draft. I have some friends who can begin a manuscript and have it finished in four weeks before they tear it apart for their first rewrite. I simply can’t do that. I edit so much while I write that my first drafts always take at least four months to complete. But the editing process after doesn’t take as long, so at least there’s that.
11. How many books have you written?
I’ve written four and am working on my fifth. My first book (My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights) is out now and my other books are currently on sub to various editors.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Again, I’m going to quote smarter and better writers here: Write as much as you can, and read even more. When I’m in a bit of a writing slump, the one thing that never fails to inspire me to get back in front of the computer and write is reading a good book. Sometimes it’s one I’ve read a dozen times. Sometimes it’s cracking open a brand new novel. But immersing myself in someone else’s words for a while always refills my creative juices.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
I was at a conference recently and heard an author tell me that when she writes an ending, she never writes the first thing she thinks of because that’s generally what the reader will think of, too. So she makes a list of alternative endings and always picks the third or fourth one.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I think my book stands out because of the subject matter. It’s all about dance crews and dance studios and football and a boy who wants all three of those things. Plus that gorgeous cover that Kate Gartner designed is hard to miss.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I’ve been doing a lot of Skype visits with classrooms. I’m a fifth-grade teacher so I love visiting, either physically or virtually, other schools. And I always Skype for free!
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I honestly can’t think of anything I’d do differently. All the mistakes I made helped me become a better writer, and every flub or goof carved away a little bit more of that inexperience.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by? [question amended in honor of Sandra Brannan]
In the words of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other.”
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