Kathy: It is my extreme pleasure to welcome, Dev Bentham, one of my favorite all time authors to Book Reviews & More by Kathy today. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few
nosy probing questions for me and my readers.
How did you begin your writing career?
Ms. Bentham: All I ever wanted was to write, but it’s taken me a long time and a very windy road to get here. My first time around in college I earned an English degree and followed it with a year in a post-graduate writing program. I spent my twenties publishing short stories and poems in feminist/literary journals, ten years of which earned me something like $100 and a shelf full of contributor copies. Meanwhile I was paying the rent through a series of low pay/low skill jobs. Sometime in my 30’s I got tired of being broke and went back to school. I really just intended to learn a skill and get a good job, but I ended up staying in school until I’d gotten all the available degrees. Then I still couldn’t bring myself to leave, so I got a job at a university teaching biology (I know, where did that come from?). After about ten years, I stepped out of my tenured position to teach online. While there were a number of personal reasons why that made sense, the thing I was really excited about was that I’d have time and emotional energy to write again. I wrote a couple of mainstream novels before discovering m/m romance, which seems to fit my psyche perfectly, so here I am.
Kathy: Where do you get the inspiration for your novels? Just your imagination? Real life events? Both?
Ms. Bentham: Both. I usually start with something from my own life—a place I’ve lived or visited (Painting in the Rain and Sacred Hearts) or a job I’ve had (August Ice, Learning from Isaac and Fields of Gold) or something relatively random like a Zumba class (Moving in Rhythm), and a character. The stories grow from there. I do most of my plotting “work” in bed late at night and early in the morning when I’m half in my dreams and get to lay there telling myself a story.
Kathy: What types of books do you read? Do your choices as a reader influence the type of books you write?
Ms. Bentham: I’m an omnivorous reader. I always have at least three books going. On my mp3 I often have a “serious” book because there’s something about listening that ramps up my internal English major. I usually have an m/m romance or paranormal on my kindle (although I try not to read in my own genre when I’m in the middle of a story) and I have a huge stack of gay and lesbian mysteries to read in the bathtub. While I’m sure that what I read has some subliminal influence on my work, I seem to write the same sorts of books no matter what I’m reading.
Kathy: It is no secret that I absolutely LOVED your Tarnished Souls series (read my reviews of the series HERE). I particularly liked how Jewish holidays were incorporated with the overall storyline. Did you initially plan on writing a series? Did the plots develop from the holiday you were writing about or was the characters’ personal dilemma the deciding factor?
Ms. Bentham: Thank you. I’m delighted you enjoyed the series. There’s something a little haphazard about how it began. I’d just finished writing August Ice, a story I had expected to go smoothly (after all it was diving and that’s one of my many past jobs), except I hadn’t anticipated how much research it would take to write a story set in Antarctica where I had to look up EVERYTHING and endlessly watch YouTube videos. I wanted to write something very familiar. So I created a story about a Jewish biology professor teaching at a (fictional) Midwestern college. Loose Id accepted Learning from Isaac and set a spring release date. There’s a Passover seder in the story, so LI suggested we could release it as a Passover holiday story. The idea cracked me up. I’m quite sure mine is the only Passover gay romance. I’m not sure there’s even a straight Passover romance. It’s not that kind of holiday since most people associate it with deprivation (no bread, no cake and too much matzo). But when I thought about it, Learning from Isaac resonated perfectly with the Passover theme of freedom from bondage. So I thought, why not do a holiday series? I can now tell you why a person might not do a Jewish holiday series—those holidays just keep coming. But the holidays are rich with meaning and I tried for stories where the holiday’s theme echoed throughout. In both Fields of Gold and Sacred Hearts, the characters’ dilemmas mirror the holiday—Avi needs to evaluate his choices and to atone, which is what we all do on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and David’s Hanukah story really is a journey from darkness into light. Funnily enough, Purim was a problem for me. It was clear that no gay Jewish holiday series could be complete without a Purim story since Purim is the campiest holiday on anyone’s calendar, and yet the story I needed to tell wasn’t very funny. What I finally realized was that I was tapping into the hard stuff behind the farcical Purim spiel, the oppression, discrimination and even death that underlie the humor in the Book of Ester. Once I understood that, George’s story felt right for Purim.
Oh my, that’s a long answer to your question. The simpler response would be that the process of writing the stories was one of weaving together the characters, the plot and the holiday theme.
Kathy: As a reader, I sometimes find there are some characters and series that I just don’t want to say goodbye to. As an author, have you found it difficult to leave a character or series behind when you have finished writing their story?
Ms. Bentham: That was one of the beauties of writing the Tarnished Souls series, I could keep revisiting characters. Kenny was definitely my favorite and I loved having him show up in most of the stories. It was interesting that when it came time to write Kenny’s own story, George was the one who needed to tell it. I realized that Kenny couldn’t be the narrator because I saw him as a very centered, straightforward and wholehearted man whereas George had some serious stuff to work through. Still, Kenny got the best lines.
That said, I’m never tempted to write a sequel to a love story. I think that’s because I really believe in the HEA for each couple, so I’m not sure what the sequel would be about. I’m one of those people who’s in love with falling in love—not a healthy way to approach relationship, but there it is. I’m not particularly interested in the hum drum ongoing, every day struggles that happen after you ride into the sunset. Perhaps that explains my dismal relationship history. But I have to admit I’ve been happy with this same guy for a long time now. That may be why I continue to believe in happy endings.
Kathy: What is the typical day for author Dev Bentham? Do you write every day? How long does it take for you to complete a novel?
Ms. Bentham: I’m a binge writer. When I’m in a story, I write anywhere from 4-10 hours/day. It usually takes me about 6 weeks to finish a first draft, after which I need to let it sit for a month or so before I start editing, which takes me about another month. I need periodic breaks from writing to recharge. We live in a little resort town in northern Wisconsin where summer is precious and short, so I try to get three or four stories drafted and edited during the winter and then take the summer off to enjoy my garden, the lake and all the people who come here to visit.
Kathy: What projects are you currently working on? What can readers look forward to in the upcoming year from you?
Ms. Bentham: I’m working (sort of, since it’s summer) on the story of a New York artist and a small town veterinarian. I’m currently calling it Guys and Dogs. The first draft had five dogs. Now there are only three. Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the editorial process. Last year was a VERY productive year for me—eight stories released in sixteen months. That’s not going to happen again this year. But I have a couple more stories marinating that I hope will end up on people’s readers by this time next year.
Kathy: I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you today. Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
Ms. Bentham: I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, too, Kathy. Thanks so much for having me. If people don’t know my work and they’d like to give it a try, Breathing Snow, my free short story about love and lycra on the Olympic cross-country ski circuit, is available through the m/m Goodreads group http://www.mmromancegroup.com/?p=10987. I’ll also be participating in a mini blog tour next week with Jordan Castillo Price and Clare London, we’re calling it The Art Appreciation mini-tour and at three different stops we will each be giving away a book with an artist protagonist (“three days, three books, three fabulous authors”). The schedule is up on my blog but the most important one to mention might be July 23 right here. So I guess I’ll be seeing you all again soon. Thanks Kathy!
Please click HERE for my reviews of Ms. Bentham’s novels.
Title: August Ice by Dev Bentham
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
It takes a special kind of person to work in Antarctica. Max Conway, an ex-Navy Seal, loves working at the bottom of the world. Like any other diver, he’s tough and hard drinking. Half the year he’s stuck in the States traveling the commercial dive circuit and hitting gay bars every night. The other six months he’s lead safety diver at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, reveling in the cold blue Antarctic Sea. The only drawback to life way down under is that Max feels like he has to tuck his libido into storage while he’s on station, stashing all those free condoms for use back up north.
That is until Andre Dubois, a gorgeous French scientist, shakes up his world. Not only is Andre out and proud, he’s sober as the day is long. And the days are long during an Antarctic summer. Max must choose between his comfortable inebriated closet and a life in the sun with Andre.
Note:This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.
To celebrate Ms. Bentham’s visit here today, she is giving away a copy of August Ice to one lucky commenter. To enter today’s contest:
You must Do TWO of the Following:
1. Sign up for e-mail updates (upper left corner). One email daily with the day’s posts.
2. Be or become a fan of Book Reviews & More by Kathy Facebook page
3. Follow me on Twitter (@BookReviewsMore)
4. Friend Book Reviews & More by Kathy on Goodreads
Make sure you have filled out the contest entry form:
5. To be eligible to enter contests on Book Reviews and More by Kathy you MUST fill out the contest entry form (found HERE). This form only needs to be filled out ONCE. Your privacy is important to me, and I will not share your information.
And don’t forget to:
6. Leave a comment on this post by 5 PM Mountain Time Monday afternoon.
It’s that easy! The winner will be selected using random.org. Ms. Bentham will e-mail one lucky winner a copy of August Ice in their preferred format. The winner will be posted HERE on Tuesday.