Wednesday, September 4, 2013

(Interview) Benjamin Wallace Up Close

The Carnage report was lucky enough to catch up with Benjamin Wallace, author the the 'Dumb White Husbands' series and this was the result, enjoy!!!

What got you into writing?'

I can’t recall anything specifically that got me interested in writing. It’s just what I always wanted to do. I’ve always loved books, movies, comics, radio shows—stories of any kind.  And, to me, it just made sense that anything I  enjoyed observing might be something I’d enjoy doing. I was never comfortable just being a fan of something. I always wanted to try my hand at it  as well. This didn’t work out so well for my rock star ambitions and you’re probably aware that I’m not a world famous race car driver but writing and just plain making things up was something I never stopped loving.

 Do have any influences in your writing or work?

My influences come more from outside of the literary world. I grew up watching the comedies that always make the top 100 list and they, no doubt, shaped my sense of humor. Harold Ramis, Steve Martin, Pat Proft and all of those guys probably had more influence on my writing than Hemingway or Adams did. Them and the writers of SNL from the mid-80’s to early 90’s. I should probably throw a little credit to sleep deprivation as well.

In a blog on your site, you wrote about your time spent on marketing as opposed to writing, who do you think you could redress the balance?

Hopefully, I can. We’re about to launch a new advertising agency that will specialize in book marketing. We’ve been pouring over marketing surveys and have found a lot of interesting things that lead us to believe that we’ve been   marketing books the wrong way. Authors put a lot of time into blog tours, Goodreads and social media sites for very little return. We think a mix of  traditional advertising and new ideas can take the marketing burden off of         authors so they can spend more time writing.

What do you think about the current self-publishing revolution?

I can’t remember another industry shift that popped up and started granting so many wishes and making so many dreams come true. That is from the author’s perspective, of course. I know it was bumpy for readers for a few years, but it seems that the gold rush mentality has   faded and the authors that are left in the game are those that are truly      dedicated to the craft. I think this has lead to better books and a better experience for everyone.

 If there were changes you could make to the publishing industry, what changes would you make?

Can we tone down the snippy remarks from both sides? I could do with less snooty comments from the traditional publishers. And the indies need to drop the David and Goliath bit. After that we’ll all meet in the middle, shake hands as authors and marketers and figure out what works best from both sides to start connecting readers to great stories.

 What do you think of the use by authors of social media as it has been less than communication and more about selling?

This is one of things I was talking about in regards to our wasted efforts. Only   4% of readers have ever bought a book because of something they saw on Twitter. But, I’m going to say 132% of my timeline has become tweets about books. You can find readers on Twitter but it’s by being social and not blasting ads at them. That’s how you lose readers. We should keep social media social. It’s better for everyone that way.

Would agree that the internet has made marketers of all of us ?

Absolutely. With Facebook we finally get to present our friends with the perfect version of ourselves. We selectively share the message and photos of our life to help craft the world’s opinion of us. Except for the people that play    Candy Crush. They don’t give a damn what anyone thinks or who they annoy.(And I’m as guilty of that as the next person).

Do you have a particular writing process?

I’m what some people call a putter-inner. I outline pretty extensively and then I blaze through a bare-bones first draft as fast as I can. The second draft sees the addition of description and grown-up sounding sentences. Then it goes to my proofreader and my wife. They’re both great at finding things that don’t make sense I’ve tried writing a lot of other ways but this is the way that works best for me. It also helps if it’s dark out. I’ll usually hit a stride right when it’s time to go to bed, because my muse either hates me or loves coffee.

How do you fight procrastination, the scourge of  every writer?

I trick myself. There are a lot of things I like to do. I like to draw and I’ve convinced myself that I can draw things people like. When the words aren’t flowing, I’ll stop and draw something. Sure, I’m still procrastinating, but it makes me think I’m being productive. The fear of not moving forward frustrates me and makes me procrastinate even more. If I can convince myself  I’m getting something done, I avoid that downward spiral. I’m also pretty easy to trick.

What do you prioritize, character or plot?

My ideas almost always start with plot but the characters take over quickly.  My plots aren’t really unique. Few are. What I enjoy is taking a genre story and placing ill-equipped characters in the middle of them. Sure, I could write a regular zombie story with all kinds of awesome violence, but I find it a lot more fun to write a regular zombie story and throw three bickering suburban  dads in the middle of it. Their perspective is going to make it a lot more   interesting and unique than just another retelling of the Walking Dead. Funnier, too.

Most people can name the best book they have read, can you name the worst?

I hesitate to because I think that every book has an audience. That’s what makes the self pub revolution great. Readers can find the kind of book that speaks to them even if it doesn’t speak to anyone else. For years I went looking for funny books. There was Douglas Adams,  Christopher Moore and a few others but it was really hard to find funny novels. It turns out that funny is hard to market, so publishers didn’t really put a lot of funny fiction out there.
But that’s not what you asked and I won’t flake out. I wanted to start reading  Harry Turtledove’s alternate history books. I started with World War: In The Balance. I tried to read it several times and then just gave up. I couldn’t get past the writing or the story and the alien race probably had a Deux Ex Machina generator on their ship. I’m sure he’s great. I’m sure the book is fine. It just wasn’t happening for me. It’s really too bad that a bad book can’t be enjoyed on the same level as a bad  movie.

  Final Question, what are you working on now?

I’m finishing up the Dumb White Husbands vs Zombies story that I began as a serial this summer. After that it’s a sequel to Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors. That’s been a long time coming and folks are starting to get pushy. We’re also looking to launch the book marketing agency, Monkey Paw Creative, soon. Those are the main things, but I’m always playing around with something or other on my Facebook page and Twitter and and ... okay, I’m starting to act like a kitten with a ball of yarn, but, you have to trust me, it’s all fun stuff. If it wasn’t, what would be the point? 

Connect with Benjamin on twitter @BenMWallace. Check out and purchase Benjamin's best selling work at Amazon Here

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