Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Ben A. Sharpton author of 7 Sanctuaries. He has written more than 100 articles and chapters in more than 30 magazines and books. 7 Sanctuaries is his first novel and his second, The 3rd Option should be released before the end of 2012. Ben has won several awards in contests with Writers/Editors Network, the Center for Writing Excellence and Writer's Type.
Good day Ben and thanks for participating in our interview
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Soon after graduating with my first masters degree in the late '70s, I began writing articles in magazines for people who worked with adolescents. I branched out into other fields, published a few short stories and then published some curriculum books.
Going to the mailbox back then was actually exciting, as I anticipated the next acceptance letter from a publisher or royalty check for something I'd written. In the '80s, I began to write in the corporate environment; newsletters, speeches, training manuals and video scripts for companies like Tupperware and Universal Florida. At that time, I let my fiction writing go. About four or five years ago, I picked it back up again, focusing on novel writing, this time.Norm:
I believe 7 Sanctuaries is your first novel. Did you enjoy the process? How was it different from your typical format?
I truly believe writing in the corporate environment set my fiction writing back a bit. In business writing, I had to write concisely, and with little embellishment. I focused on facts and processes, with little description or color or flavor. When I returned to writing fiction, I literally had to teach myself to write again – to show and not tell and to paint pictures with words. Norm:
How did you decide you were ready to write 7 Sanctuaries? Did you write the book from your own experiences?
I had attempted a novel or two over the years, but had not completed any of them. At one point I woke up every morning at 5:30 to spend a couple of hours on a book before heading into the office. Then, I decided to participate in NANOWRIMO – the National Novel Writing Month event in which tens of thousands of writers participate every year. Basically, in the month of November each person cranks out a fifty-thousand word novel. I believe it works out to be about seventeen hundred words every day. So that November four years ago I wrote 7 Sanctuaries. I think the focus of NANOWRIMO, the goal I set and the camaraderie of other writers working toward the same goal helped me complete this one. I've gone on to write novels in three more NANOWRIMOs since then.
You could say 7 Sanctuaries
is semi-autobiographical. I grew up in a small town in central Florida with white and black drinking fountains, schools and theaters. I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and the first moon walk on a fuzzy black and white television set. I lived through Hurricane Donna, voluntary and involuntary school integration and the assassination of wonderful civil rights champions.
I attended a tent revival and heard about KKK rallies. Saw my first hippie on a vacation to San Francisco. That decade was so unique, so impactful that I thought we should be reminded again of the strides, painful as they may have been, that our nation made.Norm:
Did you learn anything from writing your first novel and what was it?
I learned so very much. One thing was that writing is much more about re-writing and editing. Over the last four years, in addition to writing three other novels, I have edited and rewritten 7 Sanctuaries many times. I learned that marketing is critical to being a successful novelist and that some subjects might be more difficult to market than others. I learned lots of tools, techniques and tips for writing effectively. And I learned that the people around you – friends and family – want you to succeed and will support you as much as you are willing to let them.Norm:
What do you want your work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?
I believe stories carry a powerful potential to move people. Some make us think. Some make us feel. Others entertain us. The good ones do more than one of those things. Norm:
What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?
Probably the solitude. Having worked for non-profits and in the corporate environment, I enjoyed gathering around the water cooler and building friendships with lots of people. But as a writer, I guess I don't get out much. That only reinforces the need for writer groups and other social activities.Norm:
In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
I try to stay true to the things we know – the geography, history, science, psychology, physics and, I guess, existing myths. Anything else is limited by the author's creativity.Norm:
What do you think makes a good story?
There are a lot of writers who insist it's all about the character. That may be true for many readers, but I like a good plot. I enjoy a story line that captures my attention and twists and turns from time to time. Character and setting are important, but in my high-concept world, plot makes it all a lot of fun.Norm:
Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
Definitely. In the business world I was a strong proponent of customer service. As a writer, my customers are my readers. I need to serve them to the best of my ability. I try to provide a good, entertaining and thought-provoking story with believable characters. Norm:
Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
On My Website
and on my Publisher's Website
, and on the Amazon and Barnes and Nobel websites, at this time. Norm:
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
Ben: 7 Sanctuaries
is my attempt to recall those critical events that shaped our nation – the Vietnam war, racial tension, radical cultural change, rapid technological growth and so much more, all fueled by the idealism of the baby boom generation. As we boomers head into retirement, I believe we need to pause and recall some of that idealism, some of that hope and lots of those good times. Norm:
Thanks again and good luck with all of your endeavors
Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of 7 Sanctuaries Follow Here To Purchase 7 Sanctuaries