Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with murder mystery author, fiction memoirist and spotlightee LT Bentley. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, LT. Welcome back. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
LT: I’m a transplant to Southern California who hails from Arizona. I’m a woman who wears many hats. I’ve been a professional singer, a therapist, a bed and breakfast owner, an educator, and all along the way, I’ve built stories in my head. Mostly, I regaled my five children with them when they were much younger, but as they got older and as my life experiences began to pile up, I found that I had to put those stories down on paper. Holding them in my head just wasn’t sufficient anymore. I knew that when they began to color my dreams, run through my head before I slept, and woke with me in the morning, they were ready to be shared with more than just my children.
Morgen: Wow, a lot of experience to write about. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
LT: I prefer murder mystery as a genre, but I have also written fictional memoirs. I know, you’re saying who in their right mind tells their young children bedtime stories about death and murder. I blame my father-in-law for starting it all with his “Peter Pan, the boy-eating dog” stories. My kids always begged for more. I tried my hand a couple of times at science fiction however, while I love to read it, I am no good at creating it.
Morgen: Your father-in-law sounds like fun! What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
LT: I do write under the pseudonym L.T. Bentley. Those who know me will recognize the significance of the name right away. To date I have two books in print: Fatal Compulsions and Daughter of My Heart: Cela’s Letters Home.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
LT: Both are available on Kindle: Fatal Compulsions and Daughter of My Heart: Cela’s Letters Home. Honestly, I left the process of making them available in that format to my publisher. As for myself, I read both avidly. I love the smell of books, the texture of the paper, the thrill of turning an actual page. I also love the convenience of an eReader, especially when I’m some place like the beach or when I’m travelling. Plus, I can take tons of stories with me without having to cart around a bag full of hardbounds.
Morgen: That’s one of the many reasons why I love my iPad. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
LT: I think of all my characters to date, Everett Allen is probably my favourite. I love strong male characters; particularly those who retain gentlemanly qualities and hold to a firm set of values and morals. Such men are in short supply in the real world.
I’ve often thought of what my stories would look like on the big screen. In Fatal Compulsions, I’d love to see Rebecca Gayheart play Clarisse Swann. She can play both naïve and powerful beautifully. As Clarisse’s counterpart, Audry Sampson, Carey Mulligan was the woman I pictured as I wrote that character. For Rett Adams, Patrick Dempsey would be my ideal and for the not-so-pleasant, Dean Farrington, Hank Azaria would be amazing.
Daughter of My Heart: Cela’s Letters Home is a bit harder to picture. Not because it wouldn’t make a great film, but because it is a life-span story. If brought to the big screen, I’d love to see Elle Fanning play the young and troubled Cela with big sister Dakota playing the adult Cela. I can totally see Jeri Ryan as the mother telling the story, however, my husband would be heart-broken if Catherine Zeta Jones didn’t have a major role in one of my books.
Morgen: I first came across Patrick Dempsey in Grey’s Anatomy (which I love) and Hank in Birdcage – he was so funny. Which author(s) would you compare your writing to?
LT: That’s a hard one since I write in two different genres. I think I’m pretty similar to both Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, and Mary Higgins Clark in my murder stories. I love how the gentlemen in particular, weave a story line.
As for my memoir genre, I would say that I’m pretty similar to Nicholas Sparks. Not all my stories in this genre have happy endings, but they do make a statement about making a difference.
Morgen: Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
LT: I had full control of the titles, with input from my editor. The covers are courtesy of my amazing publisher, Angela N. Hunt. It really helps to have a publisher who’s an award winning photographer. Her photos are so descriptive.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
LT: My next projects are a sequel to Fatal Compulsions tentatively titled Gemini Shattered and a second fictional memoir titled In Search of Greener grass. I hope to have both ready for release next year.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
LT: I wish I could write everyday. I do work on my blogs (http://ltbentley.wordpress.com, http://relatingtoyou.wordpress.com, and http://crafterheart.wordpress.com) when writer’s block hits me. Then I’ll go several weeks where all I do is work on my stories. So technically, I guess I do write everyday, just not on stories.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
LT: I do a little of both. When a story comes to me, it always has a definite beginning and an ending. It’s up to me to figure out how to get from point A to point Z and not lose the reader along the way. That being said, occasionally I have to rely on a story plot line to help me map out the course. Generally though, I just look for the next logical progression in the story line.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
LT: Oh, this is not an easy question. Not because I find it difficult to answer, but rather, I know the answer will get me into hot water. All my characters are based off of people I know personally. I always ask permission first, but I find that creating a character from someone in my past or present, permits me to endow them with characteristics from my acquaintance thus rendering them more believable. For example, the character Marsha in Fatal Compulsions is strongly based off of one of my closest friends who tends to both mother and bully me in turn. She is the perfect model for the Marsha character who took Audry under her wing and watched out for the young woman. I think my characters are more believable because they are actually people in my life. Now excuse me while I find a poncho. I’m pretty sure that hot water is around here somewhere.
Morgen: 🙂 A lot of authors have said they use real people as inspiration. Anyone living in the same hemisphere as a writer should be prepared for it. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
LT: Good question. I’m not sure whether the latter is the case or not. I can say that Fatal Compulsions required months of exhausting rewrites and editing. Daughter of My Heart required less than a week to finalize. Whether it was the story or my improvement as a writer, I couldn’t say.
Morgen: Maybe both. Do you have to do much research?
LT: With the two stories so far, I have pulled heavily from my own experiences so there hasn’t been much research required. With the sequel to Fatal Compulsions, I am finding that I do have to do some heavy researching into certain fields that I’m less than familiar with.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking?
LT: I really enjoy first person writing. It gives me the opportunity to put actual thought and depth of analysis into my writing. I hope that when my reader reads a first person POV story I’ve written, they get a more personalized view of the story, something that reaches in and touches their soul and is recognizable as something they may have experienced. It’s much more difficult to do that from a third person POV.
Morgen: Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
LT: Does relational advice or crafting / DIY project instructions count?
Morgen: I guess so. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
LT: I have a science fiction story I wrote for my daughter years ago. It is so awful, I don’t dare let it out of the closet.
Morgen: Oh dear. Maybe if she enjoyed it that would be enough? Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
LT: Is there an author out there who hasn’t?
Morgen: Strangely enough, yes. I’ve had a few say they’ve not received any rejections but that’s usually because they’ve written very little and submitted even less (none or the ones they have, have been accepted).
LT: I got over 30 rejections for Fatal Compulsions and a wonderful writer friend of mine told me to look at each rejection as a step towards publication. That helped me slough off any negative feelings that rejections may have birthed.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
LT: I do the bulk of the marketing for my work, and my editor and publisher pitch in as well.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
LT: I think the most difficult is definitely the marketing aspect. If I could outsource that part of the process, I definitely would. Maybe in a perfect world.
Morgen: You and almost every other writer I’ve spoken to (myself included… yes, I talk to myself, my dog’s quite used to it). 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
LT: Don’t let rejection, naysayers, or negative thoughts keep you from your dream. If you have a story to tell, then share it. There is someone out there who needs to hear it. Just keep at it and you’ll reach your dreams.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, whom would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
LT: Lord Byron, Emily Bronte, James Owen and Indian food would be on the menu. You can tell a lot about a person who is willing to forgo using utensils during a meal. I may have to rethink the menu for Mr. Owens. He prefers pizza.
Morgen: An Indian pizza? If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
LT: I don’t think I’d want to re-live any particular day if it meant that I’d have to forgo any of the days that preceded or followed it. As a writer, I pull from my experiences for my stories and living the same day over and over would negate any new experiences. Now, if you’re offering me similar days to live through, sign me up for the day I completed Daughter of My Heart and less than 12 hours later, signed a contract to have it published. That is a good day to see repeated with upcoming books.
Morgen: 🙂 Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
LT: I have a quote that hangs above my computer in my office that I see multiple times a day. I’ve tried to make it an integral part of my life. “Is this the thought I want my unconscious mind to match?” This statement keeps me centered consciously and subconsciously on my goals.
Morgen: I like that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
LT: Just my blogs. I used to write a weekly column for the L.A. Examiner as a Relationship specialist (back in my other life as a therapist) and my blogs stemmed from that career.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
LT: I love to work with my hands. I love to design, build, create, cook, you name it. If it’s a do-it-yourself project, I will usually give it a go, much to the annoyance of my husband. I don’t think there’s an inch left to our home that I haven’t remodelled in some way or another, at least once. And when I don’t have an ongoing project, I love to be in the garden or at the beach.
Morgen: That’s funny. Most women leave the DIY to their husbands. Personally I really enjoy DIY (I was at the DIY store earlier today buying grout, scrapers and wood filler for my bathroom!). Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
LT: I have two well-worn books that sit on my bedside table. James Owen’s “DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power Of Choice” and “THE BARBIZON DIARIES: A Meditation on Will, Purpose, and the Value Of Stories” http://coppervaleinternational.com/marketplace/the-meditations. Both these books discuss James’ journey from unknown artist to famous writer. Despite all the challenges he faced, he never gave up and his writings remind me why I will never give up on my dream to tell stories.
Morgen: If you want anything badly enough you won’t give up. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
LT: I think that while self-publishing will continue to grow in popularity, there will still be a use for publishing houses in the writer’s world. I’m pleased to see that more writers are being seen than ever before. I think our ranks will only increase.
Morgen: The joy of the internet. I’ve now interviewed over 700 authors and don’t think I’ve even scratched the top of the proverbial iceberg. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
LT: The easiest place to keep up with me is on my web site http://www.ltbentley.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
LT: One of the first things I had to learn as a businesswoman, as a writer, is to never become invested in the outcome or results of anything I do. If I do, I find that I sabotage myself and focus more on results than I do on the overall process and achievement. I write because it brings me joy, because I have a story to tell, because I know someone wants to hear what I have to say. If I focused solely on finding a publisher, making so many sales, reaching so many deadlines, I would forget the real importance of what I do. I tell tales. That is what I focus on. That is what I love.
Morgen: Me too. My goal is to make a living out of it but ultimately I write to be read. Thank you, LT.
LT Bentley was born and raised in Arizona. After graduating from high school, she decided to expand her horizons and spent several years living in South America. She holds an MA degree in Clinical Psychology and one in Forensic Psychology. Currently, she works part-time as a Health Coach when she’s not writing.
Ms. Bentley resides in Southern California with her family and a plethora of pets. She loves to spend her time outdoors and on the beach where she says she can think and create more clearly.
She has two books in print:
- Fatal Compulsions (http://www.lulu.com/shop/lt-bentley/fatal-compulsions/paperback/product-20254954.html); and
- Daughter of My Heart: Cela’s Letters Home (http://www.lulu.com/shop/lt-bentley/daughter-of-my-heart-celas-letters-home/paperback/product-20406194.html).
and on Kindle:
- Fatal Compulsions (http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Compulsions-ebook/dp/B008MBG6EI); and
- Daughter of My Heart: Cela’s Letters Home (http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-of-My-Heart-ebook/dp/B00A81HJAA).
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.