Today, my guest is author Benjamin Reynolds, who is here to discuss his latest book, For Blood or Money, a science fiction adventure.
1) Tell me a little about your book.
For Blood or Money is about two down-on-their-luck ex-soldiers who have finally run out of dishonest ways to make a living. Following a jailhouse rumor, they set off for the barren planet known as Kafiristar, where a slave trader’s stash of twenty million in uncut jewels lies hidden in a temple. What they find instead is a brutal test of survival and friendship.
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I am fascinated with 19th century Imperialism, especially as represented by characters like Peachy and Danny in Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. They symbolized a concept of freedom in morality that was not dependent on society or laws, and allowed for them to choose good or evil without those distractions. Kipling’s Peachy and Danny were never far from my mind, though. Both characters had virtually no good qualities except for the loyalty and friendship they felt for each other. It is through their friendship where they find redemption, however. For me, the idea of friendship as penance for one’s sins is something that ultimately redeems humanity in general, and I really wanted to make that a central theme in my own story.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I guess I would have to say I’m a part-time writer that procrastinates full-time. I often try to set aside some time during the day to write, but that usually doesn’t work. I find I am most productive in my writing when I have something else I should be doing instead.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I first knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about 10. I used to love reading Men’s Adventure paperbacks at the library. The action and the violence really appealed to a kid’s sensibility. When I got older, I thought it’d be a great challenge if I could write stories out of that particular genre, and along the way I discovered the great joy of writing as expression.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope readers will be entertained first and foremost, but it would be nice if they could also like the characters, too. If readers like the characters in spite of their many faults, I think I will have succeeded.
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I kind of let the story dictate what genre is best for it. Mostly I write just general fiction, though. I like science fiction because it allows you to shape the world around the story you are trying to tell. You don’t have to figure out ways of getting around things in the real world, as you have to do in fiction. Both genres have their strengths and weaknesses, at least for me they do. Science fiction gives me more freedom, but I have more personal material to draw on in general fiction. So I guess I would say that I prefer general fiction solely for that reason.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest part about being a writer for me is the translation of thoughts and concepts to effective prose. I know it sounds like I just described writing in general, but I actually go about it in a very specific way. I always write out a detailed outline before I even start writing, and there are times when I know what I want to say but I can’t quite figure out how. Sometimes I’ll agonize over this for days before figuring it out. On rare occasions I will fail, however. That’s when I change my intention to something that fits my writing abilities. I hate it when I have to do that, but it has to be done to go on and finish the work.
8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
I found inspiration in several 19th century exploits and atrocities. Other than that, my story is basically all fiction.
9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I’d like to think that the main protagonist is nothing like me. Perhaps elements of his compassion come from me. Other than that, I mostly just tried to imagine what somebody would be like if they grew up in the protagonist’s environment. Besides, the main character is a violent person. I like to think that I’m not.
10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I researched modern tactics for the gunfight scenes, especially the pistol combat technique known as the Mozambique Drill. I also researched first aid techniques.
11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Writing violent scenes do not bother me, because they are always there to serve a specific purpose for the story. Besides, violence is a great way to heighten drama in any story. I have similar feelings regarding sex scenes; although I must admit there is still the little kid in me that gets a little nervous if my parents read them.
12) What about your book makes it special?
I think what makes my book special are the characters. The rapport they have with each other is my favorite element of the story. Their friendship exists clearly in my mind, and sometimes I feel as if I am somehow channeling them from some other dimension or whatever. I like the action scenes also, but the driving force behind the main protagonist is very relatable, I think. The pall of a child’s death, both literal and figurative, is more terrifying than anything.
13) What is your marketing plan?
I was going to contact my alma mater and ask if I could do a reading at their poetry center building. I was also thinking about doing the same for my old community college, as well. I had a bunch of business cards printed up to advertise for my book, and I made a website and video trailer for it on youtube. This part of the business is still a bit of a mystery to me.
14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website, http://www.forbloodormoney.com has links to where you can buy my book, as well as promotional artwork. There is also a story excerpt, youtube trailer, and two unrelated short stories on the site.
15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Duotrope digest is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen regarding submissions for publication. The website really cuts through the mystery of where and who to submit your work. That would probably be my greatest tip. Well, that and edit your work about a million times before you submit it for publication.
For Blood or Money story synopsis:
Following a jailhouse rumor to the barren planet of Kafiristar, ex-soldiers Septimus Zyke and Finyan Mantillas are prepared to fight to recover a slave trader’s stash of twenty million in uncut diamonds. But when they arrive, they quickly find out they are not alone. Tired, hungry, and a hundred thousand light years away from home, Zyke and Mantillas find themselves fighting only for each other; one desperate to save his friend’s life, the other to save his friend’s soul.