Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome Scifi Author and #fantasychat Moderator Warren Bennett

Today, I've invited Warren Bennett to the blog for a chat about writing scifi and fantasy. Hi Warren.  Tell us a bit about yourself…where you’re from and how you came to be a writer…

I am from the great State of Arizona. I grew up in the desert near a city on the Colorado River called Yuma.  (Many know this place a place from films and folk legend, but I meet few actually from the area.)  I’ve been reading as long as I can remember, well before I entered Kindergarten.  I have an older brother that is Three and a Half years my senior, so I tended to be at his reading level instead of someone my own age because I read the books he read.  When my brother was reading Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing in Fourth Grade, I was in Kindergarten.  As he grew in to Science Fiction and Fantasy, so did I.  I remember reading the Lord of the Rings in my own time in fourth grade and my teacher commenting that I just didn’t read on the same level as everyone else.   That came as a bit of a surprise to me.
Because I loved to read, I started to write.   I wrote my first real story as a freshman in High School and haven’t looked back.  I guess I’ve been writing for too many years to count, now.  (I could count them but it might depress me.)
What genres do you write and why?
I write mainly in Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I write in those genres because that is what I love to read and watch. I do have ideas for non ‘genre’ stories, but most of those seem to be screenplays I’ve written or want to write.   

What themes do you particularly like to use in your writing and why?
Hope is my favorite theme.  I believe there is always hope, even in the darkest of times.  People can come back from the brink of nothing and do well. They can make up for the evil they’ve done in their life.   In the darkness, there is a light, even if this light can only be seen beyond the veil of death.  I hope this theme resonates through everything I write, even if it doesn’t appear in a deliberate fashion.  We are living in a world of such uncertainty, I’d like people to see hope in my writings.  So many people get in to situations in their life and think they can’t change, or there is no reason to go on, but that isn’t true. There is always hope and that is what I pray resonates with people in my books, stories, and whatever else I write. 

Can you tell us about your current project(s)?
I have several irons in the fire. One is a Noir novel set on a Generation Ship. Think Hard Boiled Detective fiction in space. (Gotta have echo on that in space for full effect.)  I also have three or four short story collections based around different themes I am working on.  I also have a novel based on that Exodus idea that I’ve planned but haven’t started writing.

I also am going to start looking for an agent to sell some screenplays I’ve written. I haven’t tried to do this in about seven years, so I figure I should start trying again.  I have three screenplays written that I need to re-read and update.  I also have several screenplays I need to write treatments for and outline. 

My other project is a webcomic based around the truck driving industry.  I am going to both write and draw this sucker.   I haven’t really tried art in about 12 years, so this should be an interesting experience.  I wanted to have this going by September, but now I am aiming for January of 2014.  We’ll see how it works out.  I actually ran a webcomic for five years, but I had a really hard time keeping an artist around.  This is the main reason I am doing this one myself.
You moderate #fantasychat on Twitter. Tell me about how that got started and what your experience has been with that.
Well, Marilyn Muniz (@marikynmuniz on twitter) mentioned she wanted to start a fantasy focused chat for writers a few years back.    I encouraged her to start the chat and gave her a few suggestions about it.  She set everything up and ran with it. I believe that was about two years ago and the chat has been going every since.
When some changes came to her own life, Marilyn changed the day of the chat. 
She stopped being able to do the Fantasy Chat on Sunday evenings, as it has been since it started.   Some of the regular chat members couldn’t make it on the new night, so I offered to take over the chat every other Sunday at the old time.  I did every other Sunday because I wanted to leave room open for doing something on Sunday evenings with friends or family.  I think I’ve been doing this for four months or so? I can’t remember, to be honest.  I know Marilyn was able to start moderating the chat the opposite Sunday to me, so now we have it going every Sunday again.     

The Fantasy Chat experience has been amazing.  I love being a moderator, though sometimes I am not sure how good of one I am.  It’s interesting to see the clock tick by – when I ask a question and no one answers for five minutes, it feels like an few hours has crawled by. I am learning how to keep the conversation going without stepping on the subject. It reminds me of running a Pen and Paper RPG game: Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, but I can’t be so in love with the rules that I ruin the experience for the group.   No matter what the theme of the night is, the conversation always shifts back and forth along many parallel lines.    I’m just glad I haven’t had a night where no one has shown up yet.  I ran a Fantasy Game chat for a while where that happened.  It is a learning experience – I know I’ve overreacted at least once and maybe under reacted a few times.  However, I’ve really enjoyed being a moderator and hope I can do it for a long time. 
What advice do you have for a beginning fantasy writer or any indie writer?

Develop a passion for writing.  I don’t know about most people, but writing isn’t easy for me.  I have a little bit of Shiny syndrome (My relatives and friends will say I have much more than a little bit of that) so to stay focused on a project, I have to be passionate about it.  It’s a constant battle with my attention being drawn elsewhere and focusing on the page at hand.  Having a passion about a project also helps get me through those times when I don’t want to write and would rather be killing monsters in Final Fantasy XIV.

I also believe that Writer’s write, always.  Write everyday and treat it like a job.  Set a goal for yourself and stick to it.  You might have to give up a few things in life, like going out to a party or hanging out with friends for the night.  That is the way of a career since without those sacrifices, the eventual success won’t be as sweet.   True success comes with shedding blood, sweat, tears and moments of anger, depression, lunatic madness, and  times of ubergiddiness.  For me anyway, but of course I may measure success different than you. J

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Be Open to Critiques.  Not criticism, as in people just slamming your stuff to slam it, but thoughtful and helpful critiques.  I have friends and family that aren’t about just telling me that I’m a good writer. They will point out how I can make my story better or what they truthfully think of my work. Now, I’m not always in the mood to take that advice but I always end up thinking about it later.  I can be a bit surely but their opinions do penetrate, even if they don’t think so at the time.  Being open to critiques will also help you when you hit the real world of writing. Editors will tear your stuff apart, and then ask you to put the bloody mess of your manuscript back together before the deadline.  It isn’t easy but it is a part of the industry. 

Thank you for interviewing me. I’ve enjoyed answering these questions.  I hope to do it again sometime.   If people want to hear more from me, my blog is and my twitter handle is @warrencbennett.

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