I recently interviewed Angela Benson, after I saw her updated Facebook profile picture which displayed her new eBook, Telling Your Tale: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction for Print and eBook, 2nd edition. After downloading the book, I realized it would be the perfect addition to the Tips For Aspiring Authors series.
In case you didn’t know, Angela Benson is a bestselling, award-winning author of 12 novels and two novellas. Her work has been published by six major publishers, including Harlequin, Tyndale House, Berkeley and HarperCollins. (Oh yeah, she’s got mad skills!) She holds a doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Georgia as well as math and engineering degrees from Spelman College and Georgia Tech, respectively. Dr. Benson is an associate professor of educational technology at the University of Alabama.
Tell us about how you became a writer. This is a long story but I’ll give you the short version. I wrote my first story when I was in the sixth grade, but I didn’t start a writing career until more than twenty years later after I attended the 1992 Romantic Times Readers and Writers Convention in Savannah, Georgia. Writing workshops given by published authors were a part of the convention agenda. One of the workshops I attended was conducted by three romance writers who’d each had more than one book published. I don’t remember the topic or anything specific that the authors said, but I do remember that as they spoke, a single thought formed in my mind: They don’t look any smarter than me. If they can write a book, so can I.
And so began my writing career. I went back home, joined a local writers’ group, and began my first novel. That novel, which I started in early 1992, was completed in early 1993, sold to Pinnacle Books in late 1993, and arrived in bookstores as Bands of Gold in late 1994.
What is your inspiration for writing Telling Your Tale? I’m a teacher at heart, so writing an instructional book was something that appealed to me. Telling Your Tale (first edition) began as a project for a graduate course I was taking at the time. I mentioned it to my agent and she suggested we try to sell the manuscript to a publishing house. Berkley Books was interested so Telling the Tale: The African-American Fiction Writer’s Guide was published in 2000. I got the rights back from Berkley several years ago so that I could publish an updated edition. I didn’t get around to doing so until this year.
Telling Your Tale is my way of serving as a voice of encouragement and support to novice writers I will probably never have the opportunity to meet. As they read the book and complete the assignments, I want their faith in their ability to tell their own tale to be enhanced. I want those writers to read this book and think as I thought back in 1992: She doesn’t seem any smarter than me. If she can write a book, so can I.
Who is Telling Your Tale for? Telling Your Tale is directed at three primary audiences:
1) New writers who want to write a book, but don’t know how to get started. Telling Your Tale can help them learn.
2) Writers who have completed a book, but are concerned because somebody told them it wasn’t good enough. Telling Your Tale can help them get better at the craft of writing.
3) Writers who have started a book, but don’t think they can finish it. Telling Your Tale gives will give them the encouragement and support they need to complete the manuscript.
Did you self-publish this book? I published the second edition myself. Doing so was my first effort at eBook publishing. I’m thinking about doing a print version as well, but I haven’t decided.
Besides reading your new book, what advice do you have for aspiring authors? Keep writing. Don’t give up.
Anything else you would like to add? No, I think we’ve covered everything. Thanks for hosting me today.
Angela, I’m honored and thankful to you for taking time to share on Books, Writing & Life. It is my prayer that someone will be inspired by your story and motivated to keep moving toward their writing goals.
Find Angela online: