Interview with Ben Muse

Posted on August 7, 2013

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Hello all of you wonderful readers out there! Tonight I am pleased to introduce you to Ben Muse!! Be sure to check out his blog and other sites (links down at the bottom!) He’s very talented and I have really enjoyed the excerpts he shared here in his interview and on his site!!
Do you write under any other names? Not yet.  Check back with me if I start getting one and two star reviews.  🙂
 
What are you currently working on?  For the last month, I’ve been promoting Killing Chase and with my kids out of school for the summer, writing has been slow going.  I’m about a thousand words into a book that’s close to my heart. It’s entitled “Arnco”.  Honestly I’m not sure which genre it will fall in.  It’s about the meteoric rise and fall of an author who escapes the big city (NYC) for life in an old mill village where his mom grew up.  In the end, I hope it makes the readers laugh one minute and cry the next.  I hope to have it out by mid November.
How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles? I’ve published three books in the following order:  Eager Eaglets: Birds of Play, Break It and Killing Chase.
What inspired you to write your first book? My wife, Angela.  She writes and self-publishes children’s books and told me I should give it a whirl.  It started out as just a bucket list item, but has grown into a passion.  Oh, and I also wanted to make enough money to buy an iPad.  I’ve since set my goals a little higher.
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer? I’ve only been writing for about 14 months, so my style is a work in progress. The one thing I can say is that I like to write the ending when I know how I want the book to end, whether that’s a third of the way through or halfway through.  I can’t explain it other than to say it just works for me.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)? Process of elimination.  I like shorter titles and usually have 4 or 5 in mind while I’m writing the book and I narrow the list down to two by the time I’m done. I will also take advice from my wife and my cover designer into consideration.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp? I want my readers to know that whatever they are going through, there is always hope.  My characters deal with some crazy circumstances, but they never give up. Giving up is not an option.
 
How much of the book is realistic/true? Break It was actually based on my first job out of college.  I moved to Oklahoma in March of 1995 and worked undercover in a warehouse.  The end of Break It also hits close to home for me.  Killing Chase is completely fictitious.
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Absolutely.  I think writers who’ve just started out would do well to use past experiences or events in their life.  I write best when I’m emotionally invested in what I’m writing about.
What books have most influenced your life most? I’m not sure any book has influenced my life at all.  Reading is a form of entertainment for me.  I will say my favorite book of all time is Beach Music by Pat Conroy.
What a story!
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”? This is a tough question, because different authors have shown me different qualities that I love.  John Grisham is a fantastic storyteller. Nelson Demille has very funny characters.  Pat Conroy paints with his words.  If I had to pick one as a mentor, it would probably be John Grisham.  
What book are you reading now? I just finished Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing”.  I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about becoming an author.  It’s a great read and chock full of useful information.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby? I’m a full time, stay at home, work from home dad with other interests, but I can see this turning into a career.  As long as it doesn’t become a J-O-B and as long as I can write stories that entertain, I will.  We all come to things in our own time and I really feel that my writing is transitioning from just a hobby into a career even as I type this.  At 42, I can honestly say for the first time in my life that I may have discovered what I was put on this Earth to do.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I can honestly say that at this moment I wouldn’t change a thing.  Besides, I changed a million things in the book over the five months it took to write it.  There comes a point where you have to say, enough is enough, because it will drive you crazy if you try to be a perfectionist.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Honestly, no.  I failed my senior, advanced placement English class and had to finish high school in summer school.  That sucked.  From there I minored in English but never really pursued writing.  I think being a voracious reader certainly has helped or at least kept the writing flame smoldering all these years.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Chapter 6 of Killing Chase:

The woman stepped out of her top floor corner office, and outside, onto the spacious, park-like terrace, with its green space and padded park benches. Each corner of the square, five-story building had this benefit.  The Sky Park, it was affectionately known as, though seventy feet off the ground didn’t quite qualify as lofty. Top executives and corporate lawyer types needed space to blow off steam or step away from the computer screen and think from time to time.  She was one of eight lucky employees to have this perk, as two corner offices could access each terrace.

    She pulled a half-empty pack of Marlboros from the front pocket of her navy slacks and lit her fourth and final cigarette of the day.  She took a deep drag and exhaled forcefully.  Try as she might, she couldn’t blow her problems away on a cloud of smoke.   The stress of life had her sneaking smokes from her mom’s stash beginning during her freshman year of high school and she hadn’t been able to stop.  It was the only vice that had woven itself into the fabric of her life, other than Pinterest.  She rarely drank and had only experimented with recreational drugs twice in her entire life.  She ate healthy and made it a point to run at least two miles a day and lift weights at least 3 days a week.  So why was it so damn hard to quit?  She knew why.  The guilt and the hurt.

    She walked over to the edge of the terrace and took in the familiar view.  The wind picked up and blew wavy brown hair into her eyes.  White, pillow-like clouds drifted lazily overhead and blotted out the sun from time to time.  For five minutes, she stood there, thinking and smoking and pushing hair out of her face.  The past would soon be in the present and she wasn’t sure how that would affect the future.

    “It’s a little early for the fourth cigarette,” said the man, as he stepped out of his office.  “You gonna make it to 6:00 without having another one?”

    “I didn’t know you were keeping a running tally,” she said, without turning to look at him.

    Technically, he was her boss, everyone’s boss, but it was complicated.

    “You should be happy,” he said.  His voice was hoarse, she noted, an early sign of his body’s betrayal.

    “Yeah, why’s that?”

    “You can begin to mitigate some of the guilt you’ve felt since, what, 10th grade.  He won’t hate you; he’s always loved you, even though he has tried hard to forget about you.  I’m the one that will feel the brunt of his anger.”  He winced and rubbed at his neck

    “Deservedly so.”

    “No denying that.  Look how long it’s taken you to forgive me,” he said, remorse in his voice.

    Some things cannot be forgiven, she didn’t say; instead she focused her attention on two brown pelicans as they circled the water and searched for their next meal.  They would begin their dive any minute toward the brackish water, because that’s what pelicans did. They took the plunge, just like she would.   

    “Is the neck getting worse?”

    “About a seven on a one to ten scale.”

    “You should take a pain pill.”

    “We’ll see,” he grumbled, frustrated about his circumstances.

    “I want to be the one to tell him,” she said as she finally turned to the man.  “It will sound better coming from me.  Well, as good as something like this can sound,” she said.

    “Are you sure?”

    “Not entirely.”

    “When?”

    “The sooner, the better.  It’s time to come clean, admit that I made a deal with the devil, no offense, and ask for forgiveness.”  So many devils, she thought.

    “I had so much to lose back then,” he said.  “I didn’t know any other way.”

    “Yeah, it was always about you, wasn’t it,” she said, trying to keep her anger in check. Calm down. He’s dying.

    She exhaled a final lungful of smoke, dropped the cigarette, and stubbed it out with the toe of her black Louboutin pumps, before walking back inside without saying another word.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? The longer a novel goes, the easier it is for it to get away from you.  I call it the unraveling. I constantly find I’m rechecking dates, names and places to make sure everything matches up.  I should probably use a storyboard instead of three legal pads containing my notes and doodles.  Also, I love humor.  I use it everyday.  Translating my humor to a book is no easy task and something I’m having to work on.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  Present day it has to be John Grisham simply for his world-class ability to tell you a story and keep you up all hours of the night trying to finish it.  In the past, the late Lewis Grizzard wrote some of the funniest books I’ve ever read.  Laugh til it hurt one minute, bawl your eyes out the next.  Read his books and you’ll understand.
Who designed the covers of you books? Rachel with Littera Designs.  She is fantastic, so easy to work with and creates beautiful and compelling covers.
What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works? Writing the ending in Break It with Caleb’s mother was very hard because it’s based on my own experience.  There were many tears shed during the two weeks it took me to finish that particular chapter.
Do you have any advice for other writers? I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice yet, but I’ll give it a go.  Writing a book is a marathon and not a sprint.  Take your time, build a compelling story and take out any unnecessary verbiage. Also, pay to have a professional cover done and have your book read by people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth.  What’s good, what’s not so good.  Also, be mindful of crutch words and those bland adverbs (Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully and finally)  They suck the life out of your sentences and I’m as guilty as anyone for putting them in there.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for the overwhelming support you’ve shown me as I begin this journey. Also, thank you for investing your time in reading my book or anyone’s book for that matter.  Life is busy and as authors we need to put a quality product out there each and every time we publish a book on Amazon or any number of platforms.  Our readers deserve our respect.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?  I could write for days on this alone.  🙂  I can’t tell you how many times I went to Google to research mega-yachts for Killing Chase, or to make sure I was using a word the proper way.  I want my novels to have that authenticity about them.  I think it speaks to credibility.  Google is your friend.  Don’t be afraid to ask your friend for help.  Psychologically, as I’ve mentioned earlier, some of the scenes in Break It dealing with Caleb’s mother hit very close to home.  I’d like to think my own mom would be proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in these past 14 months.
What character from your writing is your favorite and why? I think Amanda Summers in Break It is my favorite because she was up against the world.  She had that quiet inner strength that I hope I’d have if ever put in such a dire situation.
Stay connected with Ben Muse:

      Blog address- http://theinksdry.wordpress.com/

 Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/BenMuseAuthorPage?fref=ts

Twitter- @acworthdad