It’s out great pleasure to welcome Award-Winning Author Christine Benedict to the POTL Blog. We first met Christine when she contacted us about a book review. MRS N is a huge thriller fan so she read Anonymous. She loved it so much that MR N had to read it also. We begged and pleaded with Christine to sit down with us for an author interview and after many months, she agreed. Please give Christine Benedict a warm welcome to the POTL Blog. Take it away, Christine:
Do you write naked?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood naked, dripping wet from a shower, writing as fast as my pen will go. What is it about taking a shower that gives the creative mind a nudge. It’s not a widely-known fact but our best ideas come in the shower. Google it. You’ll be amazed.
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
I have this scar on my forearm an inch and a half long in the shape of lips. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe four or five, when we lived with Grandma Wilson who watched us while my mother worked. I don’t know why it such a big deal to get the mail either, but when I saw the mailman that day pull off Route 82, I yelled, “I’ll get the mail!” Me in my summer clothes, flip-flops and all, I opened the wooden front door.
My older sister, who would never let me ‘one-up’ her, yelled back, “No I will!” She dodged past me and flung the screen door open. My feet in motion, my arm outstretched, she slammed the storm door shut. I wonder to this day how she couldn’t have done it on purpose. My hand and arm broke all that glass, the only parts of me to make it outside. I stood there bleeding, Grandma’s English bulldog, Beauty, licking up the blood and the glass on the floor. Grandma kept hitting that dog with a broom, yelling, “Git!” all the while, afraid it would cut its mouth.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
I think Eudora Welty could inspire any writer as she certainly has for me. It’s little wonder why universities everywhere bring attention to Eudora and her stories. ‘Death of a Traveling Salesman,’ for example, still gives me goosebumps, something I aspire to give my readers.
There are so many other authors who inspire me, Jodi Picoult, author of The Storyteller, for her depiction of the human condition during the holocaust. Amy Tan, author of The Valley of Amazement, for her expression of detail, taking you to China at the rise of World War II. And most importantly Sarah Willis, author of Things That Stay; I was fortunate enough to take part in her writing workshops sponsored by Community Partnership for Arts and Culture – Talk about inspiration.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I’d like to tell aspiring authors to read read read. Spread out to other genres, not just the one you write. Delve into cultures around the world through their stories. Open your mind to the new and abstract.
There’s so much more you can learn about the crafting a story, no matter what your education level. Seek out writing workshops in your area sponsored by universities and art counsels. Dr. Neal Chandler lead the fiction workshop at Cleveland State University where I had the privilege of learning above the grade. I even had the chance to sit in on a few sessions with Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, at a workshop sponsored by The Ohio Arts Counsel. A one of a kind experience.
What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?
It’s been said that I’ve always had a bubbly personality, even as a kid in the 1950s. I don’t know how that could have happened seeing that I lived in an abusive home. Except by the grace of God. I was friendly to everyone, the kind of kid who would gladly sit in a stranger’s lap just because he was nice to me.
I don’t remember a favorite toy, but I do remember when we moved to the country we had a huge trailer that sat empty in a grove of willow trees. The trailer had two wheels in the center and was closed at both ends, the perfect seesaw for 4 little kids. Together, I, my sister and the two neighbor boys climbed inside the trailer and ran to one end, the metal clanging under our bare feet. It came down so hard the jolt made us jump involuntarily which made up laugh hysterically. We did it over and over again, until someone bit their tongue.
Author: Christine Benedict
Genre: Thriller Suspense
Publisher: Loconeal Publishing
Debra Hamilton faces the fear of inheriting her mother’s insanity when her husband insists on moving into a fixer-upper farmhouse that’s a hundred years old, not an easy place for Debra to live, what with its creaks and bangs, and strange shadows, a house that even scares the neighbors. Debra befriends Julie, and learns that Julie has a stalker who writes her anonymous letters about the sexual fantasies he sees with her.
The story was inspired by the author’s own 100-year-old farmhouse where the neighbor still say it’s haunted. All the letters in the novel are letters from the man who stalked the author. He remains anonymous to this day.
Having to pee, Debra unzipped her jeans in the bathroom before remembering that Greg had turned off the water.
“Geez-oh-Pete.” At this point the gas station was too far. She traipsed down the corridor that led to the basement. A quick flip-of-the-switch was all she wanted, just enough water to flush. The stairwell was dark and steep; the light-bulb’s pull-chain at the bottom. She clicked on the flashlight from Greg’s toolbox, and holding her pants up, cautiously stepped down the narrow stairs. Every inch she eked past spider webs meshed in between the cracks of hand-hewn quarry-stone walls. She stopped at the bottom step where she could finally reach the light, not wanting to take the last step onto the broken cement, muddied from the last rain. It smelled like the bottom of a creek bed, like earthworms and sludge. Spider webs were draped from the ceiling to the walls, and hung like shelves in every corner. The quarry-stone walls dating back to the 1800s were pitted blocks of sandstone—every bit her idea of a dungeon. From where she stood, Debra scanned the walls, trying to see the water valve. But she didn’t know where to look. A wolf spider the size of a quarter sat very still at the bottom step, then scurried across the floor. She shuddered right down to the bone. Another spider sat like a brooch on a jacket that Greg had hung on a hook. And in that moment before the light flickered off when all she could hear was her own heart, she swore that something was crawling up her leg. She let out a piercing yell, kicking wildly. She kicked off her shoes. She kicked off her jeans and dashed up the stairs in her panties, wanting to nail the door shut right then and there. At the top of the steps she eyed a yard stick that she’d used to stir paint, and picked it up. Then she made a mad dash to the basement and flogged her jeans to death right there in the sludge. Holding them at arm’s length, she brought them upstairs and looked them over. She begrudgingly pulled them on, and ran outside to the back field.
The sun shining off the white of her derrière, she squatted behind a briar bush where no one could see.
At least that’s what she thought.
Christine studied creative writing at Baldwin Wallace University and Cleveland State University. She has had the privilege of working with authors Karen Joy Fowler, Paula McLain, and Sarah Willis.
Her debut novel Anonymous had earned:
- 2015 Clue Award (Chanticleer Reviews) Winner (1st place)
- 2016 Wishing Shelves Bronze Book Award Winner
- 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
- 2015 First Horizon Book Award Nominee
- 2015 IAN book of The Year Nominee
- 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Nominee
Her short story A Normal Life, a finalist for Perigee Publication for the Arts, is the fictional rendering of the visit to the mental ward where her mother had been undergoing shock treatment therapy in the 1980s, which is also a chapter in Anonymous.
Christine’s short stories, taken from her working novel The Girl in the Willows, have also been finalists for The Fish Short Story Prize.
Social Media Links: