IHB Presents a Discussion with Author Michael Bennis
Indie House Books is pleased to present an interview with Michael Bennis.
Michael is the author Signs of Destiny & Rules of Engagement and he graciously agreed to let us to ask a few questions that we are sharing with you. We hope you enjoy what Michael has to say.
IHB: Briefly describe your journey in writing your book.
Michael: In 1978, I submitted my first two novels to St. Martin’s Press and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. St. Martins returned Signs of Destiny and The Iberian Jaguar, after four editorial reviews. Harcourt found the books bright and original, yet returned the novels. I took a gamble and called the Harcourt editor who was specific about what was needed.
Soon afterward, our only son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The solitude and grief after loosing Alex was overwhelming. We decided to relocate to New York City in order to compete against the best and the brightest, she in product design and I in advertising. No rewriting.
Five years ago, I began a new novel, Rules of Engagement, that was published in 2009.
IHB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Michael: My Father was in the Pacific during WWII, and Mother’s parents lived an hour’s drive away. My grandmother, Frances Dunn, was a classmate and friend of Ernest Hemmingway in Oak Park, IL. ‘Meme’ was blessed with patience and a marvelous enthusiasm that stimulated my imagination with long discussions about the ‘Lost’ generation and their novels. Strange, I didn’t decide to become a writer, but rather I always knew.
IHB: Why did you decide to become a writer?
Michael: The idea of writing novels began taking shape at The University of Colorado, where my favorite classes were Journalism, Creative Writing, and Humanities.
Years later, in 1977, I rented a coastal villa in Javea, Spain for one month. My goal was 2,500 words per day or 77,000 words. If I reached my daily goal, I could go to the beach or have dinner in El Clavo, the fisherman’s bar. It was spring and I needed little sleep for the delicious fragrance of citrus blossoms and Mediterranean Sea was exhilarating. I arrived with a twenty-chapter summary on one page of a short legal pad. I left with Signs of Destiny.
IHB: What inspired you to write your first book?
Michael: I was studying at Madrid’s Complutense University, when a special young woman told me her friend visited a spiritualist in Liverpool, and was prophesized to die a horrible death in her twenty-fourth year.
IHB: What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Michael: I’m hopeful readers will experience a remarkable journey quite unlike anything they might have known before.
IHB: How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
Michael: I have written four novels: Signs of Destiny, Rules of Engagement, The Iberian Jaguar (being revised), and the soon to be released, Dangerous and Desirable. A favorite? How do you choose which of your children is the most beautiful?
IHB: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Michael: I experienced a perception rift when Alex died. Since then, I always rely on the right side of the brain. If I have a problem, I will focus on it before falling asleep. The following morning, I will know what to do.
IHB: Are you a full-time writer or part time?
Michael: I write full-time, and fuel the effort by caffeine. Bursts of inspiration come and go, but the daily work continues. Often, I end up with false journeys and accumulate large files I will never use. However nothing is wasted if it brings me closer to my characters.
IHB: What genre do you write in? Is there more than one?
Michael: Actually three: Romance, Paranormal Romance and Action Romance
IHB: Do you hear from your readers? What is their most asked question?
Michael: I receive comments from readers of both novels. The most intriguing are about Rules of Engagement. Both female and the few male readers share their nostalgia for someone left behind. The book’s happy ending has them wondering about the love they left behind. How could they have placed more importance on careers? Than on the intensely amorous feelings that would never ever again be duplicated.
IHB: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
Michael: I pick a color, say blue. I used the technique when writing a narrative set in the remote mountains of the Basque country. Inside the stone house are a slightly deranged but brilliant inventor and his hostage… I’m stuck. So I imagine blue flowers on the downward slope that somehow have mistaken the season. Nearby is an old shepherd watching his sheep graze. He had only seen the blue flowers once before when he and his wife conceived their first child in this remote place. Never again had he seen them, until now… when he realizes he must be dying… Now someone will come for shepherd.
IHB: Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Michael: Please visit my website: http://www.cmichaelbennis.com for In-depth Information: book awards, book videos, my interview video as featured on The Balancing Act Airing on Lifetime Television, radio interviews as well as ten blogs on writing and personal experiences.
IHB: What is your marketing plan?
Michael: I have a terrific website http://www.cmichaelbennis.com, and I do blog and press releases to promote my books (always with a link to my website). My Balancing Act appearance was the result of a press release. Also, I scribe to 35 social media sites, and I have Only Wire software that simultaneously posts my blogs on each of the 35-sites. I passionately love Indie House! I enjoy Kindle Select and the sales that follow the ‘free’ books.
IHB: Is your book self-published?
Michael: Yes, both novels are self-published. Rules of Engagement – by BookSurge & Signs of Destiny by Create Space – they are both subsidiaries of Amazon.com.
IHB: What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
Michael: The book publishing/marketing scene is in flux. 50% of books sold are eBooks. No wonder? There’s practically no overhead if compared to printed books. The downside: It would be good to have a paperback book if you do Book Fairs and address book clubs.
IHB: What books or authors have most influenced your life or writing?
Michael: Ian McEwan with Atonement, and I just finished reading Black Dogs.
IHB: What kind of books do you like to read?
Michael: I read everything: Melissa Foster, Jan Moran, Angela B Mortimer, Tami Hoag, Jo Nesbo, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Daniel Silva, Iris Johansen, etc.
IHB: What kinds of books do you like to read?
Michael: Okay, it’s strange: I only read Spanish novels when I write. Otherwise, I find myself picking up another author’s syntax, rhythm, sentence structure, etc. It doesn’t happen if I read in Spanish. My favorite Spanish author is Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
IHB: Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it is available.
Michael: “Signs of Destiny” by C. Michael Bennis is a powerful love story where destiny shapes life’s direction and meaning. Available on Amazon.com.
IHB: If there was one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
Michael: I have come to realize that I have two distinctive, guiding personalities. My mother is delightfully feminine. She would place a flower beside my breakfast and the butter would be left out overnight so it will be soft. In contrast, my father was the son of a Greek, from the wrong side of the tracks, who won respect with his fists. He was an incredible athlete, a beloved Dad, and I once prayed nightly to God, “to make me just like Dad.” I am an incongruous blend of both parents. With time, I have become more like my mother, yet Dad is always there. http://www.cmichaelbennis.com.