For those interested or curious about the supernatural, writers of such books are some of the best people in which to engage a conversation!  If they aren’t reading about it or writing about it they are thinking about it!  At least they are in context of how it applies or factors in to their stories.  To write supernatural thrillers, you have to have a pretty good imagination.  Okay, okay, to write ANYTHING, you have to have a good imagination but when it comes to writing stories that include supernatural elements, you have to let that imagination take you places that might feel uncomfortable.  You have to unleash your creativity, really let it go, and set your logical reasoning aside (you know, the “this is impossible” kind of thoughts).  Writers of such books are also READERS of such books and I don’t think you’ll find a writer in existence (not a really good one anyway!) who isn’t a voracious reader.  Jeff Bennington does it all.  He writes books, he reads books, he maintains a very active, popular blog about those things and he is the founder of The Kindle Book Review which helps authors, especially INDIE authors (individuals who are publishing on their own).  As promised, here is Part II of my interview with the very cool, very imaginative Jeff Bennington!

Questions for Jeff are in Bold print and any comments I made to his answers are in Bold Italics.

You obviously write what you like to read…so what other books have you particularly enjoyed that are similar to your own stories?

Not many actually. I’ve always been a non-fiction reader. Fiction had always come in second place for me until the last few years. I’ve read a little Stephen King, a little Koontz, a couple of Scott Nicholson books. I think those authors have influenced me some, but I haven’t read enough of any of their works to have adopted their styles. I think my writing style has been influenced more by classic authors like Charlotte Bronte and Robert Louis Stevenson. The more I write, the more I desire to get to the heart of the character.

Stephen King had quite an impact on me as well.  His book “The Shining” really got my imagination going.  As for Dean Koontz, I love his Odd Thomas series in which the main character can see ghosts. But the book that really fired up my imagination was “Audrey Rose“.  That story has actually had the biggest impact on my own writing interests.  I think the books that attract and influence writers can tell readers a lot about the kind of stories you are going to get from them.

Can you share a little about how Twisted Vengeance came to be? Is there a sequel in the future? (I’m hoping!)

YES, I’d love to! Twisted Vengeance was the result of one of those WOW moments when I was driving. I remember driving with my wife into town and for no apparent reason the concept just hit me: a creepy kid haunts a cop who’s already struggling with life and as he investigates several unsolved murders, the boy leads him to the killer… but then there’s the TWIST and the MYSTERY, the WHO DUN IT and the WHY OH WHY ending. That hit me all at once and I practically crashed the car! I had to write the story line down… on anything. I think I used a napkin from the glove compartment.

I’m excited to say that there is a sequel. I’m on chapter 5 right now and plugging along nicely. I think Detective Rick Burns has a lot of potential for an extended series. The sequel is going to take Rick out of Indianapolis and bring him into New York City — Hell’s Kitchen to be exact… a place I’ve visited often and plan to revisit this summer/fall.

I’m excited you are writing a sequel to this book!  I am very intrigued with Detective Rick Burns and I can’t wait to see how his gift to see ghosts influences his work and his life!

Your book Reunion was obviously prompted from your curiosity to how victims of a school shooting would respond (with a paranormal twist to make it even more interesting), can you share how this book made you feel once you completed it?  Did you learn anything from the writing of it (exercise any “ghosts” sort of speak)?

How I felt was not what you’d think. My first book was a flop and I thought it was perfect when I published it. But Reunion was a totally different story. I knew my writing had improved significantly, but I was so scared to hit the publish button. I felt like Reunion would either propel my writing career forward or it would crush me, killing my career. I was very worried that readers would think it was offensive, that I wasn’t sensitive enough, or that the reading public was not ready for fiction surrounding a school shooting.

I was wrong. Reunion has sold tens of thousands of copies and was an Amazon bestseller, hitting #55 in Amazon’s Top 100 and #1 in Ghosts, Occult and Suspense categories. The reviews have been phenomenal and I have gained a lot of fans. THANK GOD!

Tell us a little about “Creepy“… are these stories inspired from a desire to “creep out” and scare your readers?  Why do you think people like to read or watch something that scares them?

Creepy is a collection of scary stories. Again, I’m not as much into creeping people out as the title implies. This collection includes my three supernatural experiences in detail and two of my short suspense. I didn’t think this book would go that far either, but it has been in Amazon’s top 20-40 in the ghost/occult categories for several months now. I’m surprised, but not really. The stories are real and a little creepy. But what I’m really excited about is that I am publishing CREEPY II in October 2012. CREEPY II is a collection of true ghost stories that I have been collecting from my fans and many other people from around the United States. And if I’m lucky, I might convince you and/or some of your readers to submit their stories to me as well. If you or anyone reading this would like to submit a real life supernatural experience, please contact me on Twitter @TweetTheBook or by email at jeffbennington@ymail.com.

Well, here ya go all of you folks out there who have had brushes with the supernatural!  Jeff is a willing and eager audience!

Do you believe in supernatural evil? Do you think it can be overcome (is there a defense to it)?

Yes. Evil was a choice from the beginning and I believe that evil persists today in the spirit realm as much as it did from the beginning. Although I do not desire to dabble in the dark side, I am not afraid of it because I trust in the one who created all things, and He has ultimate power over evil and my soul, so I’m not worried about supernatural evil effecting my eternal position. However, because we live in a broken world, where sin and death are part of our reality, I know that I have to keep my guard up and be careful to not give evil a foothold … that’s why I’d rather stay away from the line instead of walking on it.

Have you ever been on a ghost hunt?

I have not. But I’ve been invited by an online ghost-hunting program to be a guest.

Any future projects in the works? Can you share anything with us concerning them?

I plan to publish Twisted Vengeance II, CREEPY II by October 2012, and then I’d like to continue working on the two non-fiction books I want to write before I die … Spiritually Self-Medicating and Jesus was an Alien.

You are an Indie writer, what have you liked best about being the master of your own publications?

Everything. Sounds like a great topic for my blog, The Writing Bomb.

Do you believe other writers who have yet to make the plunge, should give Indie publishing (going it on their own) a try?  You’ve written a book to help Indie authors (The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe) on their publication journey, do you truly believe it’s worth all the effort that’s involved to self-publish or do you think it’s more for certain writers?  (a particular genre for instance)

I think Indie publishing is the best way to start your writing career no matter who you are. You’ll discover many things about yourself, your talent, your business savvy, your marketing abilities and you will test your time management skills. Then if you can succeed at this level, I think you can probably do anything, including attract the attention of national book store chains, agents and publishers. I know that’s possible because it’s happening to Indie authors already. Think of Indie publishing as the new minor leagues; some authors rise to the big leagues, some start their own team, some experience mid-level success and some get the first ticket home after publishing their first book.

Do you believe in Karma?  How can you apply that belief to your writing and publishing goals?

I believe you get what you give. Like I said earlier, my writing goals revolve around a greater purpose for me. It’s not the other way around. I feel like I was fortunate enough to discover my purpose and I don’t have any plans to abandon my post. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is the result of my desire to help other authors figure this business out … right along side of me. My writing is my way of connecting with people, touching nerves, impacting thoughts, and maybe changing the way people perceive themselves and the world around them. That’s a tall order, but the last thing I want from life is to die with regrets, walking through the gray matter haunted by a wasted life.

Will you ever write anything (besides publication and writing tips!) that is in a genre other than thriller/suspense?

Yes. I already eluded to the non-fiction titles that are in the works. But I also want to write a couple literary fiction titles. One that is dear to my heart is a book called Henry Brooks and another called Martin and Me.

What sort of readers would like your books?  Who do you write for?  Why should they buy your books particularly?

The readers that love my fiction are looking for more than just a rush. They want to read stories that get to the heart of humanity and our struggles, but they don’t want to be bored either. I write for me and my family and for the God who gifted me, but I also write for readers who want to read a book sprinkled with lots of salt and hot peppers.

This concludes my interview with Jeff.  I can’t thank him enough for agreeing to “chat” with me.  I know he’s a busy man and his taking the time to answer all my questions was very generous of him.  Links to all his books can be found in Part One of this interview.  I think authors will find his blog “The Writing Bomb” a helpful and informative one that they’ll want to visit often!  His blog “The Kindle Book Review” will interest authors and readers alike!  I know he’s running a very cool contest right now for Indie authors so if you fall into this category, I highly encourage you to check it out!

Until next time … Many blessings to you and Peace out!!

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