Tell us a little bit about your book.
“Ben’s Challenge” is a novel for middle grades to Young Adult, though readers of all ages seem to enjoy it. It is set in rural Australia, in the 1950s.
The story is about a thirteen-year-old boy’s struggle to come to terms with the death of his father, who is killed in a hit-and-run incident. After six months, the police investigation has run into a brick wall. In frustration and anger, Ben and his friend Joe decide they will investigate for themselves.
As well as the investigation, the book deals with such things as responsibility, dealing with discrimination and expectations, and also trust and mateship.
Is there are part that is your favorite?
Part of the story shows Ben some months after his father’s death. A seemingly minor incident forces open the floodgates of grief that he had been keeping shut tight in his effort to keep going and carry out his role as the new man of the house. It is also the incident that leads Ben to take on the investigation. After I wrote that section and re-read it, I was amazed that it brought tears to my eyes!
What drove you to write Ben' Challenge?
I was writing short stories, and saw an incident that came to mind as a suitable subject. However, when I started writing, the story developed and took over. Ben became someone real, and his predicament needed a longer treatment. The result was a novel.
How has your journey as a writer been?
I only began writing creatively in 2004, when I was 56. I was well versed in writing essays for university assignments, and submissions and reports for the school where I was Principal. Then, due to ill health, I had to retire from teaching. A few years later, I met my second husband, who I had not seen since we graduated, in the same year and from the same high school, when we were seventeen.
He saw that I wanted and needed to write, but did not have the confidence to try. He encouraged me to attend a creative writing course, to see if it would help my confidence. That course opened the writing floodgates. I began with short stories, and also wrote poetry to tighten my style and imagery. I have been writing ever since.
What goals do you have as an author?
I have started writing a second novel to follow on from “Ben’s Challenge”. It will be called “Ben’s Choice”. However, I have been having problems getting into the writing due to health problems and family commitments. I would like to get that done in the next year.
I also have three other stories on the go. They are part of a series for 10-12- year-old girls. These are set in a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory of Australia. I taught there through the 1990s and love the area and the people. I hope to get them to publication stage before too long.
How do you plan to promote Ben's challenge?
Self-publishing “Ben’s Challenge” in August this year, as a print-on-demand book was a big step for me. I am not a person to promotes myself, and find it hard to get into the public eye. However, I do need to do that if I want to get my book “out there”. I think it is worth the effort.
I am on Facebook, where “Ben’s Challenge” has its own page.I also write a blog at Wordpress, under the name of wangiwriter. www.wangiwriter.wordpress.com
I don’t write much there about my novel, though I know I should.
Locally, I have had a book launch, and am doing some meet-the-author promos and book signings. I also have copies of the book on consignment at a couple of places. Almost all of the books I have sold so far have been in my local area.
Of course, your blog, Amy, and the opportunity to be interviewed on it, has provided me – and others - with an avenue to reach a wider audience of writers and readers. I thank you for this opportunity.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
One of the things I would say to new authors is “follow your dream”. However – and this is where the former teacher comes out - you cannot follow that dream without the skills and tools you need to do it well.
There are too many self-published writers out there who do not have a real grasp of even the most basic writing skills - grammar, punctuation and, often, vocabulary.
Author of Ben’s Challenge;
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