A native Floridian, Ben attended Florida Southern College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, double-majoring in Secondary Education. Ben graduated in 1998, and has been working in the field of education ever since.
Ben lives in beautiful Broward County, Florida, with his wife and son, where he continues his career as an educator and is currently working on the second book in the Legends of Kiamada series, "The Uncrowned Queen".
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About the Book
At 16 years old, Jen stumbled out of the forest and into the woods that fringe the small midwestern town of Groverton, remembering nothing about her life except her first name and age. She was soon adopted by the Aston family, whose young daughter Ellie was thrilled to get a sibling.
Now, twelve years later, Jen is living a good life as a news anchor, raising Ellie after their parents were killed in a house fire. Jen still can’t remember her past, but that doesn’t really bother her, since she and Ellie are in a good place now.
Things suddenly change when Jen barely escapes three attempts on her life, leaving the sisters shaken and afraid. Jen owes her life to the secretive new PE teacher, Coach Doyle, who has miraculously appeared to save her every time. Doyle has fighting skills fit for a martial arts movie and reflexes just this side of impossible, but how long can he keep them safe? And why does Jen feel like she should know him?
While Jen starts to fall in love with the charming Doyle, Ellie is shocked when she discovers something otherworldly in the coach’s barn, convincing her that Doyle is definitely not a PE teacher. Ellie does not like secrets being kept from her, and is determined to unravel the enigma that is Coach Doyle. The truths that will be revealed, however, will change all their lives forever…and just might help save the magical land of Kiamada.
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Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Did you have a hard time sharing your work with the public?
Very hard. I spent 13 years honing this book. There were stretches where I didn't write for several years, literally. I built up the courage in January after my grandmother passed away. The day after she died, I felt a push to post on the NaNoWriMo forums, in the critique partner area. I finally did, and within a day, had a response from somebody (the amazing Ava Larksen) who said she felt a push to reply to me. We quickly became friends, and her critique suggestions helped me nearly double the size of the book and expand on things that I'd just glossed over. I added other critique partners when I joined Twitter, and they were just as sweet and helpful. Ava and I have never met or spoken, aside from chatting online, but she is the first person I go to for this series because she's as invested in the characters as I am. Her reaction helped me get over the fear of sharing.
Where are you from?
I'm a native Floridian. I grew up in Central Florida, then moved to South Florida a few years ago. I have no idea about the writing community because I'm an introvert and don't really seek people out. My friends live several states away now, and I have a very difficult time putting myself out there, so I haven't sought out any other writers in the area.
Do you have a "day job"?
Of course, I do! I spent almost 20 years teaching middle/high school math, and then in year 20, left the classroom to become an instructional technologist. So, I now train teachers to use technology, run the LMS for the school, learn to use all the programs the director purchases, troubleshoot things for the IT director when he's handling bigger things...all that fun stuff. I love it, and have no intention of leaving my career. Besides....where else can you get such amazing research? I write a lot of teenage characters, and I'm around teens all day, every day!
What genres do you write?
Fantasy. I don't do high fantasy, though. No dragons, elves, orcs, dwarves, etc. I really do prefer contemporary fantasy, where the magic is in our world but nobody really knows about it. It's just more fun.
What is the oddest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?
Missed flirting clues. I'm probably the most oblivious person to flirting. My wife had to literally tell me she was flirting with me because I didn't understand that "Sure is cold tonight!" was code for "put your arm around me." (I was 20, almost 21, at the time, so there you go.) I have a male character with that same trait, so trying to write scenes where the girl is flirting and he's not getting it requires me to figure out potential flirting scenarios. Since I'm clueless...well, there you go.
When did you first consider yourself an author?
When I had multiple critique partners tell me the book was amazing and needed to be published. I referred to myself as an "aspiring author", as many others do on Twitter, but I saw a post that basically said "you're not aspiring, you're an author. You're just not published yet." I liked that, so I changed my profile to say "author" instead of "aspiring author".
What are your goals as an author?
I approach my writing the same way I approach teaching: if I only have a positive impact on one person, that's a victory and validates what I've done. In teaching, you have to realize that not every student is going to like you or be inspired by you or even going to do well in your class. It's the same with writing. Sure, some people may hate my books. Maybe most people will. But as long as I have that one person who says, "Ben, your stories make me happy and I love reading them!"....well, then as far as I'm concerned, I've made it.
What made you decide to self-publish?
I just wanted my story out there. I didn't care to wait for, possibly, years for a publisher to pick it up.
Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
For this series, I write in third-person, past tense. I've tried first-person, but it just never works out well for me, in large part because I have multiple POV's. "The Lost Tayamu" is primarily told from Ellie's POV and Jen's POV, but we get some scenes from the others as well. Being in first-person would make it harder, in my opinion, to develop a distinct voice for each character.
Are you a pantser or outliner?
Pantser. I mean, I know WHERE the story is going, yes. I know the major plot points--well, most of them, at least--but I simply can't sit down and figure out everything that happens. Sometimes, the characters force me to go a different path, as Jerry did with his story arc in "The Lost Tayamu". So, so bossy!
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
For the longest time, this book was called "Saving Kiamada", but when I split that into multiple stories, it became "The Lost Tayamu". The title came easily to me; this book is about the lost Tayamu and his relationships with the two main characters. The sequel is called "The Uncrowned Queen", because it focuses--surprise, surprise!--on the uncrowned queen, who was talked about in the first book. I didn't even have to think about that one.
Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?
Real-life experiences definitely play a part. In "The Lost Tayamu", the relationship between Doyle and Ellie is completely based on the relationship between myself and my wife's younger sister. She and I are closer in age (8 years apart) then Doyle and Ellie are (12 years apart), but most of their interactions are either things that happened between us (younger girl crushing on older sister's boyfriend, for example) or simply inspired by the way we act around each other.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
I don't base my characters on people, no, but I do take things (expressions, body language, ways of speaking, etc) from people I know and mash them all together to make my characters. So, you might see a bit of yourself in one character, but see a bit of my aunt in there, too. I've found that my characters are a lot stronger when I go hunting through my brain for character traits of friends and family.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on the sequel to "The Lost Tayamu", which is titled "The Uncrowned Queen". Hopefully, this won't take me 13 years to finish! I'm aiming to have it done by December, but we'll see how that goes.