Benjamin Stones

6 minutes with Benjamin Stones

How did you get started writing?

I remember starting writing when I was eight years old. I wrote a story about a cowboy in a bar.  My mother read it and said, “Oh, that’s nice darling…come on time for lunch,” but I wasn’t deterred! Back then, I obviously felt the desire to write and I have done so ever since, though never for a career until now. I wrote my first novel “The Rule of Lorques” in 2013, which is a culmination of all my experience from those years of writing. I quickly learned that writing is my absolute passion, and when you find something you love…don’t ever let it go!


Who influenced you?

In my life, I have been heavily influenced by J.R.R.Tolkien. I grew up on his novel “The Hobbit” from a very young age and tackled the “Lord of the Rings” in my late teens. These books fueled my imagination and have influenced me ever since - they’re just marvelous. I have enjoyed seeing the books turned into film, but, of course, it’s never the same.

Having said that, many of the modern science fiction and fantasy films have also heavily influenced me. Having grown up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the special effects we see nowadays are just something else and add fuel to an already fiery imagination. I particularly like Directors like Ridley Scott and Paul Greengrass, and I’m looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s new science fiction film “Interstellar” which is due out later in 2014.


Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

I have a favourite character called Sitram Ballus that I have taken from my book ‘The Rule of Lorques’ and I think a particular scene will show just how great he is!

The setting is the capital city on the hero’s home planet ‘Hala’. The particular scene is when Jonas, the diffident hero, finally finds himself all alone in the middle of an invasion of Hala and he’s starting to give up. His family have been taken, he’s lost and alone, and creatures are falling from the skies snatching people from their homes.

Then from down the street, in between the flickering streetlights, Jonas makes out someone sprinting towards him. They’re running really hard and being chased by the creatures that are falling out of the sky. The man, Sitram Ballus, is wild looking with tatty clothes; big, wild hair; and he’s looking really grubby! Ha! But besides appearances, he’s inexplicably dexterous and, almost casually, dodging every one of those hundreds of creatures as though he is just swatting away a fly.  They are coming down on him from every direction and he’s fighting and jumping and rolling and shooting and all the while he’s shouting at Jonas ”Rrruuuuunnnn!!”. It’s a great scene (I just love it!) and it demonstrates how cool and courageous Sitram is.  Of course, does he make it? the book!


What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

There’s lots of advice out there, but there are a couple of pieces of advice that I think would have been useful to me in the early stages, so I will share those.

Firstly, and obviously, find out if you can write! Put your work into competitions, have your family and friends read it, and, if possible, get people who don’t know you from Adam to read it and get their opinion. A career as an author takes a lot of self-belief and you need to know whether you have what it takes in order to survive. That’s not to say you won’t make it if you don’t. Due to the very nature of self-publishing, there are many books out there that are written badly, some of which, surprisingly, do quite well! However, I don’t believe they will have longevity which you will need to have for a career as an author.

My second piece of advice would be just to set your expectations. If you are not fortunate enough to get a publisher, then you will have to self-publish. This is where many authors fail. Writing and publishing are two very distinct arts which are so different and yet so dependent upon each other. Once you’re book is written and, like me, you feel that at last you’ve done it – don’t be fooled! - all you’ve done is produce your product. The publishing part is how you take that product to market. Marketing and sales are a different skill and, of course, can be costly. I was fortunate in that I did my original studies in Business and worked in a number of different markets before I began to write. I found that experience invaluable. So, any business experience in these areas will greatly improve your chances of becoming a successful author.


Where is your favorite place to write?

I like to write at home with my family. No, I don’t mean surrounded by screaming children! I mean at home, locked away in the peace and quiet but knowing that the family members are just outside the door should I want to go and see them. Also, I must have access to music. It doesn’t matter where I am as long as I have music to write to.  Let’s say you’re writing a scene in a book. You're in the zone and it's flowing like rapids before a waterfall. Your thoughts, your emotions, even your soul is pouring out onto the pages and you feel magnificent. I then add into the mix some music appropriate for the scene, maybe a soppy love song or a hardcore rap, whatever it takes to fuel the scene. And 'wow' does it work! Before I know it my fingers are blurring across the keyboard and they can hardly keep up with the words that I am generating. It’s a marvelous feeling and by the end I'm floating on the ceiling and it takes me all day to come back down!


What else would you like to tell us?

I would like to tell you a little about me. I was one of those children that spent their days staring out the window in class and, as an adult, I'm no less of a dreamer! I love animals and nature, the human mind, and justice and the Law and each of these heavily influenced the content of my novel – ‘The Rule of Lorques’.  I live on the Isle of Wight, England's best-kept secret, where I work in the Financial Services Industry. It's very much a thinking and writing role and, like all such jobs, when I'm not working, I like to escape. I do this by writing creatively. This is something that I have done since I was very young and I will continue to do for the rest of my life. It’s my passion.  Remember if you find something you love…don’t ever let it go!

Additional Interview with Benjamin Stones

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love writing Science's my passion! And if you combine this with spending most of my education years studying Business, then being an Indie Author is the perfect career choice. It combines all elements of business as well as allowing me to let my imagination flow - i produce the product and take it to market!
However, I do feel I am very fortunate to have reached the market at a time when there is so much support available for Indie Authors. If I tried to do this back at the turn of the century I would have struggled. Now, the market is saturated with Indie Authors...but I love a challenge!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Well...I could hardly call myself successful! Consider me up there with Mr Grisham, Mr Crichton and Mr Child and then I might start considering it. But that's not to say I'm not on my way and Smashwords has certainly helped. Imagine a huge, rusted iron door behind which all your dreams come true. I'm trying to open that door. Smashwords is the oil I've applied to the hinges...without which I would never stand a chance!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
By far the act of writing what I feel - not just at any time - but when you're in the zone and it's flowing like rapids before a waterfall. Your thoughts, your emotions, even your soul is pouring out onto the pages and you feel magnificent. I add into the mix some music appropriate for the scene, maybe a soppy love song or a hardcore rap, whatever it takes to fuel the scene. And 'wow' does it work! Before I know it...I'm floating on the ceiling and it takes me all day to come back down!
What do your fans mean to you?
Absolutely everything...more than any author could express without sounding like they just want to sell more books. Take my rusted door analogy...Smashwords is the oil to help me open the door, but the fans are the people pushing from the other side. Without them there is little chance of me getting that door open. We're a team and that's something I want to get across to are such a key element in the careers of Indie Authors that you must ensure you let us know your thoughts and feelings of a book. Even if you didn't like it...let us know. At least we can drop out of the market if no-one liked it or better yet, we could write a second book taking into account what you have said. It's a re-iterative quality process...sorry, there's my business education coming through again!
What are you working on next?
Book Two of course! And don't think for one moment it's easy! Just because an author has written one book, doesn't mean they can just write another. However, like the first book, I'm floating on the ceiling and I can't wait to get it finished so I can get it out to the fans. Patience is a's coming I promise!
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite fictional writer is Michael Crichton. He was introduced to me by my older brother when I was younger. I just love his style and the research he put into his books. Though I admit, I've still got a few to read! My favorite fantasy author is David Gemmell whose heroes are just brilliant. Parmenion, Druss, and, of course my favourite, Waylander the Slayer! They all have this sixth sense and are ahead of the game at every turn. Brilliant! I also like John Grisham, Marc Gimenez, and Lee Child.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Firstly, my book. I'm the only one driving it forward, no-one else is going to do it for me. I also have a full-time job and a family, and so often the only time I have to do anything is in the morning. Fortunately, I work best in the morning (with a strong coffee!)
Secondly, my family. What can I say...I love them...dearly...and every day I can't wait to see them!
Thirdly, the alarm clock...which I place on the other side of the room, so I HAVE to get out of bed!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to fly fish; there is something very magical about being alone out in a natural environment and just focusing on what you're doing. It's almost just exist! I also like to walk and cycle with the family and I like to visit France. It's a beautiful country - all that space and wine! But i don't have much time for any of that. Either I'm working on the book, doing my full-time job, or spending time with the family. Once I'm up there with Mr Crichton, then I'll go and fish!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Asking me that question has made me realise that I do exactly what I don't want people to do. I usually wait until one is recommended to me. Actually, I should be out there trawling through the millions of ebooks discovering new authors; helping them to open the rusted iron door. I saw an online video once about leadership. It said that though you take a leap of faith with your product, it is equally the first person to follow you that invests equal faith. They are standing up infront of everybody saying "Hey, world, I condone this product!". Though it's easier to hide behind the web, I feel the same applies. Therefore, consider my practices hereby altered!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not really! I think I was eight at the time. It was a story about a Cowboy in a bar. It was typed out on an old BBC computer using Wordwise (a BBC word processor). My mother came in and read it and said:
"Ah! That's nice darling! Come on..time for lunch!"
But that didn't deter me. I've been writing ever since, though never seriously until now.
What is your writing process?
Do the preparation. Sit down and spend quality time designing your characters, evolving your creatures and creating your technology. Get it into your head how it all works together because when you're in the zone, you need that information to come flowing out. You don't want to have to stop and look everything up all the time. Next roughly plan out your story...keep it rough but know the salient elements that move the story along. Then, put the music on, and just start writing. The words you get down at first won't be right and the story will deviate from the rough plan as new ideas come into your head. But, when done, go back to your preparation and use your writing to firm up your plan, amend your creatures/characters etc. Then you start the painful task of going back over each section and improving the writing. Repeat until complete or your eyes drop out from fatigue!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read, or actually had read to me by my mother, was The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien. It stuck with me and resonated for the rest of my life. It ignited my imagination and fired my dreams to be in that world. I've loved seeing it recently turned into a film, though, of course, it will never replace the book, and I've also loved seeing the Lord of the Rings films. My mother takes great pride in saying that she used to do the voice of Gollum exactly the same way as it is portrayed in the movies! But then I guess the credit should go to Mr Tolkien himself.

Published 2014-04-13.


Benjamin Stones