I met Tom Benson through a Facebook writing group almost two years ago that is now called Indie Author Support and Discussion. I was new to the group and Tom always held out a hand of welcome and kind words of support, in fact it was Tom who took a look at the first chapter of my book and pointed out a few rules I should follow when editing. I know I wasn't the only one Tom helped back then, and I know he's still doing it now. He's also one of the talented admin of the new Indie Author Support and Discussion website, where you will find an amazing array of new and upcoming authors of every genre you could think of, along with tips on everything from writing to marketing and all that falls between.
Tom's writing career started in 2007 and since then has written a multitude of works, from novels, to short stories for anthologies (which I had the pleasure of working with him on one called You Are Not Alone in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care), and even some poetry.
For many years Tom served in the British Army, finishing his career there as Staff Sergeant before breaking in to Retail Management, both positions of which Tom believes taught him about human relationships and what matters most in life.
Here is what Tom Benson had to say...
Why did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
During my army career which ended in 1992. Towards the end of my 23 years I had a yearning to write my military memoirs – similar to an autobiography.
I followed my military life with a career in retail management, and occasionally relaxed by scribbling scenes on a notepad. I knew the urge to write was still with me.
Now, having a stable of titles behind me, I’m finally working on that first idea, but it is fact-based fiction in five parts.
What was the thing that drove you the most to do so?
I had a head full of ideas, and I’d enjoyed reading most of my life. I believe the vast majority of service personnel become storytellers.
The natural progression if you enjoy such a thing is to fulfil your potential and get ideas down in print.
How long have you been writing?
Since 2007, although then I was trying my hand at poetry, and after a few hundred poems I experimented with short stories before moving on to novels.
Why did you pick the genre/s that you have?
Whether it is a short story, or a novel, and whether it be thriller or erotica, I imagine myself in the situations, or I have the desire to play judge and jury.
Imagination is a bonus, but I believe having life experience is helpful in a writer’s work. Working from a memory creates an integral authenticity.
I have no control over the real situations in today’s world, but I can be on hand in my worlds, and bad guys get what’s coming to them.
Who is your favourite character, and why?
My favourite male character is Phil McKenzie (Hawk) from the Beyond The Law stories, which will have a third one added this year.
My favourite female character is Annabel Strong who plays Hawk’s sidekick. Annabel is hot on so many levels and deadly too.
Do you have any particular quirks when writing?
If I’m writing an action scene I get out of my chair and choreograph the character’s movements. This is usually in cases where there is shooting, fighting, or a scene where the physical description must work fluidly in words.
I make brief notes as I realise complications. My aim is to make the scene feel like a movie – not an instruction manual.
If I find a character, a piece of dialogue, or a scene which doesn’t work well enough, I cut it out – but I save it to a file full of similar ‘cuts’.
What does your family think of your work?
Neither my wife, nor my son (who lives on mainland Europe) have ever read any of my work. To the best of my knowledge, neither has my mother, or any of my five siblings.
Do you belong to any writing groups? And if so what do you think are the pros and cons?
I attended a local writing group a few years ago, and within three seasons realised there was a dependency on mutual back-slapping. They were lovely people, but improvement is about effort and integrity, not being nice.
I’ve been a member of a variety of online groups.
I presently belong to the best online writing group I’ve come across – the Indie Author Support and Discussion group.
What’s so good about it? It’s international, and does what it says on the tin.
How do you deal with writers block?
I rarely suffer from this mysterious affliction, but when I find myself pausing over the notepad or the keyboard, I change to a different scene, or a different project.
What would you say is the most difficult part of writing?
Editing with honesty is key. To be a writer of a decent standard I believe we have to be able to wipe out words, sentences, paragraphs, and characters without worry.
A passage should not be in a story because the writer likes it. Every word must have a purpose.
What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I enjoy developing something from a simple idea. Whether it is a novel, or a short story I imagine a situation and write. While I’m writing the notes my ideas are blossoming, so I will occasionally stop and scribble a note on my pad, perhaps a name, location, or weapon.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in every part of every day. I’ve thought of romantic or erotic scenes while cycling to work. I’ve imagined car chases when I’ve been on holiday and driving in the countryside. I’ve imagined clandestine meetings and murders while in a cafe having coffee.
A lot of my inspiration has come from life experiences.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
My primary character in Beyond The Law, Phil McKenzie, is loosely based on the author Chris Ryan. He wrote the factual and thrilling novel ‘The One That Got Away’. He was the only member of an SAS team who escaped from behind enemy lines in Iraq in 1991.
Phil McKenzie’s sidekick Annabel Strong is based (in appearance only) on a woman who worked in a jewellery store opposite where I worked several years ago.
The main character in my five-part novel ‘A Life of Choice’ is based on me.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I read, draw, paint and occasionally cycle or go for a walk in woodland which always inspires me.
When conducting any of these activities I daydream, and when possible I make notes. I’m never without notebook and pen.
What do you like to read?
Adventure, thrillers, military, and espionage are my favourites. I’ve enjoyed some fantasy and paranormal in recent times. I read some erotica which was so bad it inspired me to write my short story anthology and novel in the genre.
Who is your favourite author?
Wilbur Smith is my favourite, although I enjoy several.
Where are your books available?
Only on Amazon - presently as eBooks.
What are you working on right now?
The second part of a five-part novel.
The third novel in a series of three.
Two different anthologies of short stories.
Two short stories for different IASD anthologies.
Guiding / mentoring a new novelist with his debut novel.
I strive to keep the WIP updated on my blog and website.
What is your ultimate goal?
To be successful - which doesn’t mean rich.
I’d like to earn a steady modest income from my writing.
Do you have a favourite film? And if so what is it?
‘Death Wish’ starring Charles Bronson.
Here is how you can find Tom Benson
And of course at the Indie Author Support and Discussion Website.
This was the last thing Tom said at the end of our interview...
I’d like to thank you Sallyann for the opportunity to take part in your interview, and for good questions.
My response to this has to be, it was an absolute pleasure! I thoroughly enjoyed having a little insight into Tom's mind, a man that has a wonderfully giving nature and the patience of a saint, and believe me, dealing with so many authors to get them all satisfied with what's going on with the new site is never an easy task, Tom would have needed all his patience at some point.
Tom started out as an acquaintance, quickly becoming someone that would answer this newbie's questions (trust me some still make me flinch at how naive I was back then) without ever making me feel I was any less than he was. Now I am honoured to call him friend, and can only hope he looks at me the same way.
Please take the time to follow, friend, or visit Tom at any one of his links above, and please pop on over to Amazon and pick up one of his works. You won't be disappointed you did, and do please remember to leave a review ;)
Once again, thank you Tom Benson for taking the time to interview with me.
I am a wife, mother, and grandmother, and I live in Wales in the U.K.
Sallyann Phillips is an IASD member.
Check out their website for a wonderful choice of Indie authors for you to chose from.