10 June 2013
Getting To Know – Ben Warden
Just for a change, this week we’re not In Bruges and instead we’re in the company of Ben Warden. I first met Ben earlier this year at his booklaunch for LIFE WITHOUT at The University of York St John, we seemed have something in common as authors in York so it was natural for me to invite him onto Getting To Know. Here’s what he had to say.
NED : Let’s start right at the beginning. What is it that makes you want to write? Is it just a career, do you want to be rich and famous or is it there an inner voice that comes in the night and tells you that you have to do it?
BW : I think it's something I've grown up with really. It's not about writing for me, it's about storytelling. As a kid we used to talk about our day, tell each other jokes, make up stories and I was one of those annoying 80s kids who was always running around with a camcorder. I just love storytelling in loads of different forms and writing is the one that grabs me the most; it's so direct and easy to share. You think it, you write, you post it, someone reads it (hopefully). I love it.
NED : What do you think has influenced your writing? Are there are particular authors that have inspired you?
BW : My background is actually in film. I took a degree in Film, TV and Radio at Canterbury Christ Church University and the first things I wrote were scripts, so a lot of my influences come from the Film/TV world. Simon Pegg, Richard Ayoade, JJ Abrams to name a few. In the literary world I'm a big fan of Ali Smith, Ben Elton, Jon McGregor, Bernard Cornwall. I think, for me, inspiration comes from reading as widely as I can, in whatever medium.
NED : You’re nearing the end of your Creative Writing MA at The University of York St John. How valuable has that been to you and what do you think you’ve gained from it that you might not otherwise have had?
BW : I wrote LIFE WITHOUT, my first book before I started the course and while I stand by that book as a good story and good read, the things I've learnt on the MA have opened my eyes to writing. Like I said my background was in film, this gives you a great grounding in story structure and character development, but the MA has taught me about voice, about the rhythm of writing, about exploring and pushing conventions, about how carefully constructing language can bring your characters to life. I've explained it before like this, when you make a film you write a script and then loads of other people get involved, actors, directors, editor, cinematographers, etc. When you really get into writing you start to realise that all the things these people create with their skills; atmosphere, tension, drama, you can create in the language you use and the way you choose to use it.
NED : You also have a full-time job. Besides this and promoting your book, are you able to continue writing? If so, how do you manage to fit it all in?
BW : It's pretty hectic, but I do. My partner works a six day week, so I do the same. I work Monday to Friday and use Saturday to write. I sit at the computer for a working day, about 7 or 8 hours. During the week I also try to write in my lunch hour and for a little while when I get back from work, but I don't do that quite so religiously.
NED : Continuing on that theme, if I asked you to give a talk about The Modern Author and the set of skills they require, what would you say they were?
BW :That's a really good question. Mostly I think it's about determination and passion. You have to make writing your priority and treat it like it's what you do. I work a 9-5, Mon-Fri, but I consider myself a writer first. I think the 'modern author' has to have a lot of people skills and time management skills, but mostly they need to know how to apply these in the online world, as well as in the real world.
NED : Your debut novel is LIFE WITHOUT. Can you tell us a little about it?
BW :Without sounding like I'm reading the blurb [he says looking at the blurb]. It's about Steve, a young, good looking investment banker. Basically the kind of guy who the average man on the street would see as both the devil and a lucky b*****d simultaneously. However, when we meet Steve it is about a year after the valentine's day that ended his marriage and he's feeling lost and itching for something new. He lets circumstances take over and ends up quitting his job and getting involved with a highly temperamental artist in a mad business venture. The project throws him, unexpectedly, back into to his ex-wife's life and pushes his sanity and his money to the edge. The story basically sees him battered by life, I won't say if he gets out the other end in one piece or not! ;]
NED : There are some quite high-flying characters in your book. Which, if any, of them would you most like to be and why?
BW :There's a character in this book called Pete. He's straight talking and loyal to the end, which I really admire in people. He's pretty blunt sometimes though, so I don't know if I'd actually want to be him. I can't imagine he'd have a massive network of friends, just a few who get him.
NED : You’ve chosen to publish the book both in print and online. Many debut authors would only go for one of these options – what made you choose the two?
BW : It was more that there was no reason not to. With Createspace and KDP, Amazon's publishing companies, you can do both at no additional cost and without taking much more time. Publish for the Kindle is the obvious choice as it's cheaper and can get to a bigger audience quicker, but If you have everything you need for an e-version you pretty much have everything you need for the physical version (except a spine and back cover image). At the end of the day we are in the book business and there are still a lot of people who like the weight and feel of a real book and I wanted to be able to give them that. To be honest, as a reader myself, I thought there was something a little bit special in having my story in that printed form and being able to hold it.
NED : Given your other commitments, what are your principal methods of promoting yourself?
BW : I have Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook accounts and I have my own website (www.benwardenauthor.com). I try to keep them as up to date as I can and I've found that people are genuinely interested in hearing about the process. It also stops that kind of radio silence you might otherwise get between publications. I've also done some talks and radio interviews, but those were mostly around the time I launched my book. It is hard to balance the time of marketing and writing, I do want to keep plugging LIFE WITHOUT and get it to a event wider audience, but if I did that continuously there would never be a second book .
NED : Do you have any new work planned or in hand?
BW : I have just finished the planning stages of my second novel and have literally started writing the first chapter earlier today. I won't say too much, but it is going to be a lot darker than LIFE WITHOUT. In my mind I really want to have this next book out before Xmas, but that might be a bit of a push. I've also just had a short story published in the York St John's anthology 'Beyond the Walls' and I'm starting to submit to short story and flash fiction magazines.
NED : And lastly, what would be your Desert Island book?
BW : Wow, that's a tough one. I'd probably say 'So long and thanks for all the fish' by Douglas Adams. I'd really want to take the whole hitchhikers guide series, but if I have to choose one, that is my favourite.
If you’d like to find out more about Ben, try looking find it here :