Creative Spotlight on Author Ben Monroe
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Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
Hi! I'm an author who's lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've written two novels, and a couple of dozen short stories. I write horror stories which often express my interest in how regular people react to weird situations.
Can you tell us about your most recent release? Album? Song? Art piece? Etc.?
My novel "the Seething" comes out on March 23rd. It's the story of a family on a vacation at a small town near a mountain lake. And what happens when they run afoul of the awful thing lurking in the lake.
What inspires you?
I'm interested in and writing about what happens when regular folks leading regular lives intersect with the unnatural and uncanny. Often my observation of the world around me goes off in some weird tangent, and inspires a story.
What is your creative work routine like? Do you balance it with another job?
Indeed I do. When I wrote "The Seething" I was primarily a stay-home dad. Most of it was written when my kids (teenagers) were stuck at home due to distance learning because of the COVID lockdowns and shut downs of their schools. I wrote when they were in classes, and supervised them when they were on breaks or done with school. Now, I'm working a full-time job, and get my writing done in my off-time. My current job has sort of random hours, so sometimes I write in the morning before work, sometimes in the evening after work and mealtime, and the kids are off to bed. I make it work.
Do you plan out your creations? What is your process before you create?
Nope. I'm 100% a dyed-in-the-wool "pantser." I usually start with an idea for a character, or a monster, or a situation, or sometimes just a beginning or ending, and just start writing. I write the story to find out what happens next. I learned over the years that if I outline a story, I lose all interest. If I write an outline, by the time I get to the end of the piece, I know how it ends, and then I feel like "Now I have to write it all over again, but make it -longer-? Forget it."
Do you have a self-care routine or want to have one? What do you do or wish that you did to take care of your mental health?
I used to go for long trail runs to clear my head. Sadly, injuries have scuppered me from doing that much any more. Now I take long walks, instead. I also recharge by spending time with my friend and family.
What is your favorite creation thus far?
I'm really happy with how "The Seething" turned out. It's pretty much 100% what I was hoping it would be. Among my short stories, I think that "Desiderium" and "Vinegar Syndrome" are among my favorites so far.
Do you have a character that is your favorite over others you've written into creation?
Officer Shawna Lasher in "The Seething" was a lot of fun to write. Especially since when she entered the story, she was a total throw away character. I never meant for her to be in the piece for more than one scene. I think now 1/3 of the book is her story.
Are there any recurring themes in your work?
As I mentioned earlier, mostly I like to write about regular folks having regular problems, and then monsters show up to make everything worse.
What does success look like to you considering your creative passion?
You know, I think it'd be great to be making a livable income off just my writing. I'd love to be able to justify leaving my day job and just writing. But for now, just knowing that people are reading my stories, and getting some entertainment value out of them is pretty great.
What is something your fans/readers/followers don’t know about you or something unique about yourself?
Jeez, lots of stuff.How about how I worked on Star Wars: the Special Edition.
What advice would you share with new or aspiring authors/singers/artists/etc?
Stop worrying if you're good enough. Just start writing. Some people aren't going to like what you're writing, but lots of others are. You'll never make everyone happy anyway, so write what you want to, for your own entertainment, and trust that you'll find your audience.
Where do you get your ideas for world building?
I played a lot of tabletop roleplaying games over the years. A lot of what I do when I create a setting for a story stems from that experience. Specific ideas often come from observing the world around me. EG: The Seething emerged from watching how a local man-made lake was being affected by severe drought conditions.
What genre do you prefer to read?
Mostly horror, some fantasy, and I'm recently getting into westerns.
What hobbies do you have?
I still play tabletop RPGs and boardgames from time to time. I enjoy hiking and camping. When COVID hit and we all got stuck at home, I started getting back into building and painting monster model kits.
Do you have any outside experiences that influenced your work?
I'm sure. Most of my stories are inspired by places I've been, or situations I've found myself in.