1- Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I'm Becky Benishek, always a writer, finally an author. I live in Wisconsin with my husband, Dave, and our guinea pig, Teddy. I attended Lawrence University for English and Environmental Science, and I've worked at the Crisis Prevention Institute for six years as their social media and community manager. I also have an extensive Lego collection, love doing jigsaw puzzles (Teddy helps), and I stick googly eyes on things.
2- What prompted you to write these stories?
I actually wrote my second children's book first! I have a date on the manuscript that says 1999, though it could even have been earlier. I grew up with first white rats and then guinea pigs, and have stuck with guinea pigs since then. Oddly, Dr Guinea Pig George isn't based on any particular guinea pig I've known, but he was born fully-fledged in my mind with soft brown fur and determined personality nonetheless, and the story just rolled out.
What's at the End of Your Nose? happened after I saw a series of photographs about snails that uncovered a whole new world from their perspective. And I thought, what if this were just one snail, and this was that one snail's day? That story just rolled out too, though I tweaked Sidney's final realization a little later.
I hadn't actually thought about snails much before then, though I'd grown up with Cricket magazine and Trina Schart Hyman's delightful illustrations of the inhabitants. I apologize to all snails I've unwittingly neglected.
3- Has your day job impacted your characters or writing?
Only in the best way! My coworkers are amazingly supportive and excited about my books.
I do my job has helped influence my story lines. Every day I'm in a whole world of people trying to provide the best care and safest outcomes for children and adults in their care, who often have special needs. This has helped me add subtle perspectives to both my current stories that hopefully speak to everyone.
4- What are the biggest challenges of being an indie author? Biggest rewards?
Having the gumption to stop talking about publishing so you'll start doing it instead! There's a lot of work because nobody is representing you but you. And we all have actual lives outside of making our dream come true.
Somehow, though, you do make it work. There's a phrase I like to say: "We always make time to sit and watch TV." You can find the time, you just might have to rethink it a bit first.
I expected to make mistakes along the way and I have not been disappointed in that, but by far the biggest reward is finding such a supportive group of both me and my books. It was a very lucky day when I found the Navigating IndieWorld group on Goodreads!
5- Which is your favorite book?
Ooooh...you know, they're pretty much parallel, for there are enough differences to make it hard to compare. I cherish them both for different reasons.
Plus Sidney Snail & What's at the End of Your Nose? has the added distinction of being my debut book, which meant we went through all the ups and downs together of figuring out CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), formatting, pricing. . .I love it to bits, yet oof, that was hard work. When it was Dr. Guinea Pig George's turn, I had way more of a clue about the whole process.
6- You often write from animal's perspective instead of a human's. Can you explain how you choose and develop your characters?
I anthropomorphize everything. Except for lettuce, because that's Teddy's favorite food, and that would just be too mean. But I've always loved animals, stuffed and otherwise, and grew up in a world peopled with all of these characters. What I hope I'm doing in sharing these characters outside of my own head is not making them too human, because they aren't; they have their own personalities, worries, interests. I'm just building a bridge. Interpreting, if you will!
7- Who are your favorite authors?
I will try to keep this short...
F. Marion Crawford
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Marion Zimmer Bradley
. . .I am stopping here by sheer force of will.
8- What are you working on now?
I'm getting a third children’s story with a more mythical animal ready for a target of Sometime-In-Fall, 2017. I’ve got a fourth story, a true picture book, next in line. I also have a middle-grade story I recently decided to expand past its original scope.
When I get through all of those, I’ll focus on adult short stories, of which I'm slowly building a collection. That's the plan, anyway; I may find myself switching to adult-land sooner.
9- What would you advise a budding indie author?
Stop thinking about writing. Stop thinking about being an author. DO IT. You have to almost trick yourself into forgetting about yourself, about the bills you have to pay, the breakfast you have to make, the laundry you have do, about everything but doing authoring. That's probably a grievous grammatical error but it's still true. I just know that if I'm sitting around thinking about or talking about writing, I'm not actually writing.
10- Sum up your books in three words that tells the prospective reader everything.
For What's at the End of Your Nose?: Snail Finds Adventure
For Dr. Guinea Pig George: Guinea Pig Cures Everything (I used "guinea pig" as a single entity.)