Friday, February 5, 2016

#290 : Something in the Water By Ben Starling : Spotlight!

Book Description: 

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery... 

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life? On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancĂ© Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship. 

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life. 

Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon.


Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford University's only ever quintuple boxing Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and competed until a few years ago. He is 6'3"and 192 lbs. Ben graduated with a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

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First of all, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

I was always drawn to the power of stories to transport you to another world, expose you to new situations, thrills, people, challenges, loves…and the questions they pose. The legacy a good book leaves behind can last a lifetime.

Something in the Water was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive.
Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. Through the written word, I hoped to explore and capture several extraordinary events that happened around the time of my girlfriend’s death. The novel and the series kind of took off from there…

Can you tell us about Something in the Water?
It starts off as a conventional love story but develops in an unexpected way. I foolishly set myself the monumental challenge of trying to address the ultimate question about love….

What I ultimately wrote was a combination of personal experience and research, including that conversation I had decades ago. You know how every now and then you discuss a subject with someone and you never forget what was said? Well, I always knew that particular conversation was important. I just didn’t know at the time where it would lead.

Does your inspiration come from anywhere else?
I owe a debt of gratitude to my late Great Dane (sadly is no longer with us). I’d just finished the first draft of the manuscript and I had a dream that she ate it. Shredded it in fact…with her tail wagging as I chased her around the room. A pretty obvious message, I thought, that the manuscript needed more work!

So you kept going?
When I woke, I took a deep breath, went for a long walk, and didn’t look at what I’d written for two weeks. I occupied my time swimming, running, weight-lifting and did some of my marine-themed art while I allowed my unconscious mind to unravel some plot problems and strengthen a number of scenes. Then it was back to work with renewed energy and creativity.

How do you create a character?

Most writers will tell you to look at the people you know, and then use elements of their characters. I wouldn’t disagree with this, but I also like my characters to be robustly independent of each other, so that their interactions are more entertaining. Once again, time is important – they need to be allowed to grow as the writing process continues.

In my first draft, I establish the core elements of a character and then, through subsequent drafts (yes, there were several!), I develop their quirks, passions, style of dialog etc.

Random question: Are you a good chef, Ben?

Afraid not. I do chuck things in a slow cooker and eat the bubbling mass at the end of the day. I admit to being bored of the same old favourites but the problem is, I’m too lazy to read cook books. It served me right when I was given a jar of black beans which I soaked, but didn’t know I was meant to cook. Some impressive stomach cramps!

What will your next meal be?
I’m eating while I type. The bag says “cashew nuts” on it, but we all know cashews aren’t nuts!

Where will you be ten years from now?

On a beach, holding hands with the woman of my dreams, staring out to sea, with a feeling, better, a conviction that we are turning the plight of the oceans around. There are things that can be done, but they will require a lot of work. It’ll be worth it though!

What can we look forward to next from you?
Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world. They are a varied collection of individuals, each of whom is pursuing their own agenda. I decided some time ago that it would be fascinating to explore their backstories at formative times in their lives—the times that made them the people they are in my novel.

The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon). It focuses on war hero Daniel Dragan, when he returns from Vietnam.

The second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!
Something in the Water - available on Amazon
Something in the Air

Something on the Fly – coming soon!

Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…
New York, September
He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.
He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?
As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?
No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?
What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.
“How on earth…?”
Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.
“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.
But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.

You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at



  1. Read, loved and fascinated by both of Ben Starling's books. Anxiously waiting further books. Always learn something different about Ben in each interview. Keep up the great work.

  2. Totally agree with you. Waiting for his next book.

  3. Thanks, Jan and Christy. I'm working hard on the next installment!

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