Sunday, May 24, 2015

#125 : Online Talk! - An Interview with writer Ben Starling

Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel.

He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and has coached and boxed competitively. 

Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an MPhil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

Reach Ben at his Website, Follow him in Twitter, Find him on Facebook !                          

Ben, thank you for taking time to answer my questions! Looking forward to knowing more about your

upcoming book.

'Diving' straight in,

BI : Writers normally promote their book once it is published. Pre-release promotions are very

minimal, but from my little research on the internet, I found that you have been promoting

your book quite extensively using character blog tours and regular updates in social media

platform. For a rookie writer, aren't you a bit nervous given that people now would probably

expect a lot from you, thanks to the promotions?

BEN : With pre-order sales becoming more and more common and authors more comfortable 

with internet possibilities for helping gain visibility, we are seeing much stronger and 

earlier campaigns. Favourite authors like Colleen Hoover and Amanda Hocking work very 

hard to connect with their readers before, during and after their book launches. When I 

look at how these masters do it, I feel very far behind! I am also very excited about my 

story and look forward to sharing it. 

My novel (title reveal coming soon) will be released on January 21, 2016. Lots to do to 

prepare for that! Right now I’m also working on a series of prequel short stories to be 

released from September 2015, set in the same world as my upcoming novel.

BI : Your protagonist (from what I've read on your blog) is a strong willed female being forced to

handle serious environmental issues. What or who is the inspiration for this character? Why a

'female' lead in particular?

My heroine Teal’s character came to me nearly fully formed one day and I was so 

fascinated by her that I had to sit down and write her tale. Sketching out her backstory was 

one marathon writing session! She is most probably a compilation of several people – 

female and male – that I have met before. Or she may have been a gift that I was lucky 

enough to channel out of the ether. 

As I wrote the story, there were some developments in her character as revisions 

progressed and an extra skill or two added. But fundamentally, she exists very much as I 

originally imagined her on that first evening. 

BI : The other character, Perry, you have sketched him to be a Marine biologist and an Ex-boxer. Is

that character modeled after you?

While it’s true that I used to box and have coached for many years, I am not a marine 

biologist! I would have liked to have been one though. And I’ve got my fingers crossed that 

I’ll come back as one in the next life – it’s such a fascinating world underwater. The craziest 

sci-fi movie aliens don’t have a patch on the creative and bizarre life forms in our oceans.

Perry is not me - I’m not as brave as he is for a start. His boxing ability is simply a product 

of applying the old adage “write what you know”. I had to think a bit more about Perry to 

develop who he is and boxing seemed to fit with Perry’s character. Most people think of 

aggression and speed when they think of boxing. But it can also be a very technical sport. 

The precision and tactical choices behind each move executed would appeal to many 

scientists. Particularly one with Perry’s family background.

BI:  Environmental crimes aren't as popular as your regular homicides are, did you take up that

particular subject as it was in your comfort zone? Or is there a specific reason to have taken up

this issue?

The health of our oceans is a particular passion of mine. We are doing a very poor job of 

maintaining them in this century and I am worried about what we will pass on to the next 

generation. The human body is sixty-five per cent water and about seventy-one per cent of 

the earth is covered by water. It’s our most critical resource. We can’t do without it.

I have done a fair amount of research on this topic for personal interest over the years, so 

again the environmental theme in this novel is another product of “write what you 

know”… and are passionate about!

BI : What can we expect from your book? A simple summary would help.

You can expect obstacles, ecstasy and some tragedy that ultimately deliver catharsis. It is a 

story of the most enduring kind of love, one that lights up two lives and reaches past the 

grave. The novel (title reveal coming soon) will be released on January 21, 2016. Lots to do 

to prepare for that! 

Additionally, I’ll be releasing a series of prequel short stories from September 21, 2015, set 

in the same world as my upcoming novel. 

What if to be with the man of your dreams… you had to give up your life? On the verge of 

losing her job, a side-lined journalist is forced to travel to the South Pacific to untangle a 

mystery where she meets a reclusive ex-boxer with a message. When a syndicate of 

corporate criminals invades paradise, she must either defend the island with her life or 

accept the plum promotion that will save her career.

BI : What is your writing process typically like? This would help fellow newbie writers. 

I typically start my day catching up on the news at a local cafĂ© before settling in to the 

day’s work. It’s good to loosen up to someone else’s words before flexing my own.  If 

there’s time, I swim at the local pool. 

I tend to work for long stretches without interruption. But a tricky plot knot calls for a 

change of scene and here the writer’s walk comes into its own! Walking in parks is good. 

Walking near water is better. The rhythmic churn of flowing water somehow lulls me into 

a place where plot snarls magically smooth themselves out. Then I’m ready to sit down 

and try again.

BI : Now for some quirky rapid fire questions  

1) Bloody Mary or Bourbon? 

Bloody Bourbon. Absolutely.

2) One habit of yours that you have always wanted to get rid of. 

Wanting to get rid of habits!

3) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  

All virtues should be overrated to encourage more virtue.

4) Can you fake any accent? 

Cor blimey, mate. (That was meant to sound like French, but it didn't, did it?) 

5) One thing that not many people know about you.  

I won a major primary schools under eleven javelin throwing competition with the very 

first throw of a javelin in my entire life!! No one else entered. 



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