Author of “Love and Happiness” Available now http://tinyurl.com/or6hjr
PEN’Ashe Magzine: How long have you been a published author?
Ben Burgees: My first book was my poetry book “Times Have Changed and life is strange which I published in 2008. In 2013, I published my first novel “Monster” So technically I’ve been published for seven years.
PM: What is your motivation behind the pen?
BB: Honestly, my motivation for writing is to change the world for the better. I write to stimulate people to think. I write to give people hope, and I write so people can learn from my mistakes and my characters mistakes. I try to use my little bit of name recognition to work on improving minority communities and to be a positive role model for them.
PM: Describe your writing process.
BB: I write whenever I have time or as soon as I have an idea. I have a Samsung Note 4 so if an idea comes to mind, I literally write it down or use the voice memos to record my thoughts and write them out when I get time. I try to write something every day, even if it’s only paragraph. I’m a huge perfectionist so I’m constantly editing and re-editing while I’m writing. Once my project is completed, I edit again to try to make my work the best it can be. When I’m writing, I can have music or a movie playing in the background, but I totally zone out and focus on writing. I turn the internet off when I’m working on my laptop because honestly, I usually end up looking at Facebook or checking out stuff on ESPN. To include my daughter in my writing process, she puts her desk next to mine while I’m writing and practices writing her letters and/or doing her homework.
PM: Are you a full-time Author? If not, what struggles keep you from doing your craft full-time?
BB: I’m not a full time author. I’m an NYPD Detective, a personal trainer, and a father. My life is super hectic so I don’t have a lot of time, but I try to manage my time so I can balance out and do everything I love.
PM: Tell us how you came into the storyline of your latest book.
BB: At first, I was working on another novel which has now turned into my next novel “Love and Happiness” when my co-workers asked me to write a book with a Lesbian protagonist. At first I thought it wouldn’t be possible since I wasn’t a woman, I knew nothing about being Gay or the LGBT community. My co-workers decided to take me to a Lesbian bar. (They took me to the Cubbyhole, which is the first bar I mentioned in Wounded.) After going there with them and talking to the women, I decided to work on the book. To make the book feel as authentic as possible, I did a lot of research. I interviewed fifteen women and five couples, to hear their thoughts, feelings, and philosophies about being a Lesbian, and life. I also used one of my family members as a basis for my character development, so I felt personally invested into creating “Samantha”
PM: What character(s) can you relate to the most?
BB: Kenny from “Monster” is me. Ninety percent of “Monster” is real. Of course some situations and characters had to be changed, but for the most part, getting to know Kenny is like getting to know me. My “Ken” character is based off my past. After enduring some pretty interesting experiences, I believe that “Monster” is a story that can benefit everyone. I feel that it’s a story that needed to be told. I was inspired to write it to teach people and I hope others will learn from my mistakes. The poem “Ugly” from my first published work “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange”, is the poem that inspired me to write “Monster” I reflected on my life, and felt this would be a good story that would teach and possible change people’s lives.
PM: How do you market your work?
BB: In order to sell your book effectively, I believe it starts with you. You have to talk to all types of people. People need to know your book exists if it is going to have mass appeal. I search for credible reviewer on Amazon and Goodreads. I also do research over the internet for other well know reviewers. I’ve found online promoters (Papaya, Lisa Muhammad, Qiana, Shatika) who post in Facebook groups and other social media sites for me throughout the day. I’ve found that to be very effective because it introduces tons of people to my book on a regular basis. I try to do everything in my power to promote my books. I want my novels to reach as many people as they can, so I use every form of advertising possible. If people don’t know that your book exists, they won’t buy it. Word of mouth is definitely important, but it can only go so far. I use popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, my personal website) to advertise. I use press releases, advertise in local newspapers, and enter book contest to promote and spark interests for potential readers. I also keep at least (5) five paperback on me at all time. I talk to new people every day, so there are always new potential readers to meet. Even with all of that, I have to admit it can be exhausting. I want to be successful with my writing more than anything, so it’s worth it.
PM: What are you currently reading?
BB: I’m currently reading “Forgive me” by Stacy Campbell
PM: What can we expect from you in 2015?
BB: My third novel “Love and Happiness” will be released April 30, 2015. I’m very excited about the release of this book because I feel so many couples will be able to relate.
PM: What advice do you have for up and coming authors?
BB: There will be lots of times when you want to give up. There will be times when people will talk bad about your book or sales might be low. Never give up. Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Listen to critiques and push your pride to the side. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you believe you are, you can always improve. There will be those who will not be fans of your writing, but you should never give up. Keep improving and learning your craft. Edit and re-edit. (*always have your books professionally edited. You want people to take your book seriously and not feel that it is amateurish.) Learn from your mistakes, take classes and read other authors. Research the industry. Two of the most important things to do are: 1. Find a credible editor and 2. Promote, promote, promote. You have to put your heart and soul into your work. While it will be hard and you will go through trials and tribulations, in the end it’s worth it when your book is entertaining people and it’s successful.