Author Spotlight – Harper Bennett

1)      How long have you been writing for the purpose of publication?
I started writing poetry in my MFA program years ago. Don’t laugh! I was very deep and profound. Haha! I started writing seriously for romance publication after graduating from my MFA program and hating the prospects of querying literary journals that I didn’t like to read for the rest of my life…I’d say around 2005, off and on, in between the kids as they arrived. We’re up to three now. Kids, that is. Gulp!

2)      What is your writing schedule like?
I laugh and say that my writing schedule is a joke, but it’s one that I constantly play on myself. There is no excuse for how undisciplined I am! I took a “book factory” class recently and learned the power of just 15 minutes of writing—and just how many quarter-hours I waste each day. I write mostly when my kids go to sleep. I’m definitely an evening writer, as each time I try to wake up before 6 a.m. and pound keys, I end up drinking coffee and reading celebrity gossip sites!

3)      Are you plotter or a pantser?
In my life, I’m a pantser. True story. I’m rushing around three minutes we’re supposed to be out the door, sealing up peanut butter sandwiches and looking for matching socks and missing book reports. And let’s not get me started on the fact that I work a 40-hour a week job outside the home that I’m rarely prepared for! In my writing, however, I write outlines of two to three chapters at a time and use those as a rough guide to help me in case I get stuck. It happens. A lot. And at least with my outlines, I can keep track of character names and place names a little easier.

4)      What is the most difficult or challenging thing for you as a writer?
Wow, as The Centurion’s Prize was my first foray into the editing experience, I have to say that my inner twelve-year-old cringed and snickered while trying to implement edits to the sex scenes. All of a sudden, I was incredibly embarrassed that I had written about that and someone had read it! My husband still gives me grief about the bright red face I had as I worked through those pages.

5)      Is there a genre you enjoy reading, but would not write?
I love demon-hunting paranormals like nobody’s business. LOVE them. But the past three times I’ve tried to create my own, I’ve ended up with insomnia and really odd, awful nightmares about demons that bothered me and made me a little frazzled for days at a time. Call me superstitious, but I’m convinced I’m not meant to write those types of stories (though reading them does not affect me).  Isn’t that spooky?

6)      Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I have a knitting basket full of stuff I’ve started and stopped. And well, I suck at knitting if we’re being perfectly honest. But I let myself really be terrible at knitting and while I’m sitting there butchering a pattern, my brain begins to unknot just like the cheap, frayed thread I’m cursing at. No, honestly. Allowing yourself something you like to do that you’re not necessarily good at is really freeing and takes the pressure off for a few moments, and sometimes that’s all you need.

If that doesn’t work, or if the knitting project is so terrible I’m considering setting it on fire in the grill, I find that rereading my work from page one is a great way to remember those little ideas and epiphanies I had along the way but might have forgotten. If I resort to this, I don’t allow myself to stop until I have reread the entire thing. I might make notes in the margins, but I don’t allow myself to jump off the train until I get to the last word I wrote. It gives me a whole picture of what I’m working with and by the time I’m allowed to write again, I usually have something to say.

7)      What do you do to relax?
I bake. And bake and bake and bake. Baking came later to me and has been mostly self-taught. It’s a love that’s really overtaken my life at points. I bake when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m stressed, when I want to celebrate, when I’m bored. The funny thing about how I bake is how drastically it’s changed since getting married. My husband and I couldn’t be less alike when it comes to our taste in sweets…I’m all fruit and more fruit-based pies and tarts, and the man won’t consider it if it doesn’t have chocolate or peanut butter. Needless to say, I do a lot of baking and donating it to the grateful folks at work. He and my sons are simple men and you aren’t going to sway them with a rustic rhubarb peach tart when peanut butter-topped brownies is what they’re after. If I can’t bake, I watch my Jane Austen or Agatha Christie DVDs. (Okay, okay, “Family Guy,” too!)

8)      What’s your favorite way to procrastinate? 
I’m pretty sure I’ll catch flack for admitting this aloud, but I waste hours upon hours on World of Warcraft (a computer game) when I get a mind to it. When my life is hectic and too full, and I don’t feel like writing or being productive, I assume the identity of a mining, hard drinking, mountain-dwelling dwarf who’s about four feet high with bright orange hair (and matching mustache) named “Hefeweizen” who does battle with orcs and zombies. Oh sure, I could have chosen a sexier, cuter girl elf or something, but why? I spend enough time in my real life worrying about my looks…and at least with Hefeweizen, the only thing I worry about is whether there’s mead in my moustache. Ha!

9)      Are you a collector of anything?
I have a foodie blog that I adore, and recently I’ve started collecting vintage kitchen tea towels. I love the things! I also nabbed four small boxes of recipe cards from my grandmother and mother and have made it my mission in life to not only preserve those (via scrapbooking and archiving) but to save ANY vintage recipe cards I can get my paws on via friends, ebay, garage sales…wherever I can find them. It’s a sickness, really. But it’s incredibly fascinating to see your family’s history one pot roast or brownie recipe at a time.

10)  If you could time travel where would you go and why/what would you do?
I love Jane Austen and even spent time as a president of the local chapter of the Jane Austin society (JASNA). If I could, I would spend some time in Regency England, stalking Jane and ascertaining whether or not the time period really deserves as much attention as romance writers have given in (and yes, I’m pretty sure it does!).

11)  Give us some links where we can find you, please.
My personal author site and blog is at www.harperbennett.com. My food blog that I mentioned earlier is located at www.hungrylittleblackbird.com. I’m usually around, somewhere, on one of those two!

*As part of our Grand Opening Celebration, leave a comment on this post to be entered into a drawing for The Centurion’s Prize by Harper Bennett, releasing this month from Beachwalk Press*

9 Responses to Author Spotlight – Harper Bennett

  • Knitting is my favorite way to free up writers block!! This is the first time I've found someone who uses the same trick–though 9 out of 10 of my projects turn out really well (we won't talk about that other 1–it usually ends up in the trash or under a rock).

    Congrats on the new release!!!

  • Theresa Stillwagon says:

    Scrapbooking is something I've been trying to do. My husband and I have travel a few places in our RV and we wanted to set up a scrapbook for every place. So far I haven't even started.
    Someday maybe.
    Good luck with your book. Hope you have many sells.

  • Nina Croft says:

    Hey Harper, I learned so much about you here! Congrats on the release and keeping everything crossed you have mega sales!

  • Estella says:

    I, too love demon hunting paranormals!

    Congrats on your book. Hope it flies off the shelf.

  • Harper says:

    Awww, thank you so much! @Stephanie: I'm a CHAMP at long, boring scarves. Anything else, and it's a crap shoot! Theresa, I try scrapbooking once in a while, too! I could go broke with all the doodads and fun stuff, though. Not very friendly on my wallet. :) NINA! Oh, how I have missed you, woman. I hope all your mad success lately hasn't gone to your beautiful head! ;) (I'm kidding of course. I hope you have so much success you're an IMPOSSIBLE DIVA!!!)

    Do the demon books ever mess with your sleep, Estella? Maybe I am too superstitious for my own good!

    Thank you, Beachwalk, for the spotlight! So much fun…

  • Karen C. says:

    Congratulations of the upcoming release of The Centurion's Prize! You must be so excited; how will you celebrate? Wishing you much success!!

  • Jane says:

    Great interview Harper!

    That is spooky about writing the demon-hunter books!

    I probly wouldn't try again for awhile! :)

    Congrats on your new release!

  • Julie comins says:

    Congrats on your new release. I love old recipes to, somebody better have grandma's mac and cheese somewhere. I also have old cookbooks, the original toll house cookie receipe, signed by the owner of the tollhouse restaurant. Some day I will pass it on to one of my nieces.
    Not much of a legacy unless they want the rest of my books tyuio
    IRead2xs at yahoo dot com

  • Tabitha Rayne says:

    This has been lovely to learn so much about you! I am really looking forward to The Centurion's Prize – big congratulations! x x

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