It’s my pleasure to welcome romance author Jen Benjamin to Infinite Pathways today. Jen is a newspaper writer who enjoys fiction when she gets time away from writing facts. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and various furry creatures. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys photography, reading, catching re-runs of Frasier and playing the violin. She used to play the violin for church and various other events, but now just plays for herself (and still has nightmares about her one gig as a strolling violinist!).
Thanks for stopping by and meeting with me today, Jen.
Of course! Thanks for having me, MJ.
Let’s dive right in to the interview, shall we…
Can you describe the moment that launched you on your writing journey?
This is such a hard question for me. I can’t really pinpoint one magical moment that sent me down this path. I feel like I’ve always been a writer. But that sounds really cliché and it also sounds like I should be some sort of writing genius by now. Which, by the way, I am not. I’ve always been a daydreamer and since I was a little kid, I’ve loved writing stories. I get to control what happens. I get to make things happen. I like that. Maybe I’m a control freak.
How has your ‘day job’ or post-secondary schooling influenced your writing? What are the main influences to your writing?
Writing for a newspaper is my day job. Sometimes I feel like it has hindered me because the rules are all different for news writing. But, being in the news business has allowed me to experience people and situations I never would have with other jobs. One minute I’m talking to a police man at a gruesome crash site and the next I could be interviewing a wealthy business man who has made a large donation, or a genius musician, or an inventor. It’s like getting crash courses on hundreds of different subjects.
What were the most challenging aspects of bringing your book to life?
One of the hardest things for me is knowing what to write and what to leave out. In my head, I know so much more of the story than I end up writing. It’s really hard to weigh up scenes and decide if they are important and necessary. They all feel important and necessary to me because I get really attached to my characters.
What is the fundamental message you would like readers to walk away with after reading your work?
Most of all, I just want to make people smile. But I also want people to know that it’s too easy to focus on the bad things that happen and feel like those things are taking over your life. For some reason, we’re all wired to let less-than-stellar situations become the focus of our thoughts. For the most part, if we step back and look at the good things going on, we realize those good things outweigh the bad.
My favorite character in Follow Me Home is Jesse. I think his defining moment comes when he realizes the things he did in the past could negatively affect his current endeavors. It’s a real moment of regret and it shows his maturity.
What was the most difficult scene for you to write? Try to describe your efforts without revealing too much or ‘spoiling’ the moment for future readers.
There’s a scene where Katie goes on a date to a fancy restaurant. She’s full of doubt and feels awkward and I feel that way a lot of the time. It’s not a sad scene or anything, but it made me feel kind of sad for Katie. It was one of those moments where I wished she could see herself as others saw her.
What insight can you give regarding the publishing industry and the route you chose for publication (traditional publishing vs. self-publishing).
Well, I came across Wallace Publishing by sheer coincidence. They are still small but they help me do the things I’m bad at. Self-publishing is hard because you have to shoulder all the responsibility and try to figure out everything yourself. Trying to get published traditionally can feel very overwhelming because it seems like you’re invisible and you are just trying to be seen by an industry full of blind people. That’s not to say anything negative about people in the traditional publishing industry; that’s just what it feels like as a writer. I think I found a happy medium with a small publisher.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of publicizing yourself and your work?
I am always, always worried about being annoying! The last thing I ever want to do is annoy anyone and that’s what I feel like I’m doing when I try to publicize. I try to look at other promoters and model myself after the ones I think do it well. I’m still very insecure about it.
What drew you to the romance genre? What are your favourite scenes to write?
Since I’m married, I can say that having found the person you want to spend your life with is very comfy. It’s a warm feeling, like hot cider. But, everyone knows, there is nothing like falling in love. It’s the craziest feeling. You find this person that you just can’t get out of your mind and every part of you – your mind, your body, your soul – craves time with that person. I think people like romance stories because it’s like a vicarious buzz. It’s good to be in a long-term, stable relationship but falling in love with someone new is a feeling you never forget.
I like the scenes where there is a little touch, or a little look, between two people that creates flirtatious tension. Those are the moments when you realize, even if you try to deny it, that you are really attracted to someone.
What projects are you currently working on and can you reveal or give any juicy hints?
I am working on piece called Quick, Fast and in a Surrey. It’s about Annie, a museum curator who also gives horse-drawn Surrey tours. What I can tell you about Annie is she is very impulsive and that gets her into a lot of trouble in her love life and life in general. I think this one has some plot twists that people won’t see coming.
Thanks so much for sharing your author journey with us today Jen. Best of luck in your blossoming career!
And for those of you reading along today, while you’re surfing the net be sure to reach out and connect with Jen 😀
Follow Me Home
When writer Katie Kendall moves to LA to turn her best-selling novel into a film, she is pretty sure it should be the happiest time of her life. But with an unsupportive husband who suddenly files for divorce, the paparazzi assuming she’s having a fling with the leading actor, and her friends left miles away in her old hometown, she begins to think she’s made a big mistake.
Can her new crowd of friends help her through these times? And could those paparazzi snappers have a point about that leading actor…?
This witty romantic comedic debut novel by Jen Benjamin is a tour de force that will have you coming home to it again and again.
Buy it HERE