Author Spotlight Interview: J.C. Benthin
Today’s interview is with charming and creative author J.C. Benthin. J.C. writes young adult and children’s novels that entertain and inspire. It was our pleasure to chat with J.C. about her writing style, future projects and life outside of writing!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
JCB: Given my experience in writing screenplays, I tend to write more cinematically with dialogue driven characters.
HG: Makes sense! You began writing as a young girl. Has “author” always been your dream job? Tell us a bit about your publishing journey.
JCB: I am giggling as I write this because it took me a long time to even consider myself an author. I started my first romance novel in 3rd grade. I hand wrote it in cursive on blue lined paper and I never finished it. My writing continued in my journals, documenting moments in my life through middle and high school. I would consider writing at the time more of a hobby because I never dreamed of being an author. In high school, I got into theater and fell in love with performance which led me to pursue acting in college.
In my sophomore year, I wrote a side project called Truth. It was a collection of essays in a diary format with pictures that resulted in a literary agent reaching out to me. I didn’t pursue it because I still didn’t really see myself as a writer. In that same year, I wrote the beginning of the children’s book titled Pink Princess. Midway through my college career, I ended up switching from an acting degree to pursue a film degree because I wasn’t a big fan of the professor. It was at that time that I wrote my first screenplay.
After graduation, I pursued production and found that I loved being on set. However, I wasn’t at a place in my life where I could’ve moved to Los Angeles to start my illustrious film career, so I decided to do what I could on my own as a screenwriter. I wrote a few screenplays, and one was optioned. I also took a class on how to write a children’s book and finished the Pink Princess that I had begun back in college. A start-up company approached me to write three children’s stories for an interactive storybook app. I submitted the Pink Princess, Timmy and the Time Machine and Anything but a Prince. The company folded before any of them were published.
When the children’s stories didn’t go anywhere, I wrote a TV pilot and was actively working to sell it. During that time, I spoke to a well-known movie producer, and she suggested that I write a book. Now, at this point, I thought that was a terrible idea because I didn’t have a masters in English or anything. I shared the TV pilot with a friend of mine who did have a masters in English and she recommended that I turn the pilot into a novel. I was in sincere denial about being an author, so I tricked myself into writing a book-i-sode. (Yes, I know that’s not a word).
The next three years, I did something I didn’t think that I could do. I wrote 47,000 words, worked with three editors, and independently published my first book. One of my editors read the first draft of my book Catapult and said that I had three books, not one book, which I think tricked me into writing a trilogy. Honestly, I don’t think that it was until I published my second book Slingshot that I finally admitted to myself that I was an author. By coming to grips that I had a passion for writing stories, I circled back to the Pink Princess, changed the title to Anything but Pink, and as of yesterday, I published my first children’s book. I have always been someone who learns by experience, and it took me some time to learn that I wanted to be an author.
HG: Wow! What a journey. Congrats! What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
JCB: I am independently published so the learning curve has been huge. It’s a delicate balance of devoting my time to creating the story and marketing what I have written. At times, I feel like an octopus with many arms in many different directions. I learn more with each new title and, in some ways, I wish that I could go back to the beginning with the knowledge that I have accumulated. I think the main challenge is how to market the book once it is out in the world, how to build an audience and keep them engaged while writing the next book and creating interesting content for social media.
HG: Many things to balance, for sure. Is there anything you’d do differently? Advice to aspiring authors?
JCB: I think the most important advice I could give is to write the story. I know that sounds oversimplistic, but I have had many conversations with people who want to write a book. First things first, write the story. Secondly, I’d look to build a group of trusted individuals that can give you feedback during the early stages. Thirdly, I would invest in an editor even if you are pursuing being traditionally published. The editing process is so helpful to getting your work into the best shape possible.
HG: Great advice! Tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. When and where do you write?
JCB: I write a general outline first. Then I write each chapter into its own document. I spend quite a bit of time researching elements to help deepen the story details. Once I get a solid handle on the story, I will write the first main draft then submit it to a story editor.
I have a little corner with a chair and small desk where I tend to write. My writing schedule is usually in the morning followed by some form of exercise to work out any story problem then I write more in the afternoon.
HG: Awesome. Tell us a bit about The Kingston Chronicles. What can readers expect? Is there a release date set for the third book, Boomerang? What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they read this series?
JCB: The Kingston Chronicles is about Kingston Rais who joins a privatized black ops company run by a billionaire with the primary goal to stop terrorist attacks both at home and abroad. At the heart of the story is a young man’s journey of not measuring up to his dad’s expectations and given his newfound unique talent discovers an unlikely family in the black ops group that he’s always longed for.
Readers can expect fast-paced suspense, driven underdogs, and international twists and turns, filled action-adventure and futurist technology.
Boomerang is set to publish in early 2023.
I hope that the audience enjoys the immersive ride in the world that I’ve built.
HG: Sounds fantastic. For fun, if The Kingston Chronicles were turned into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
JCB: The Kingston Chronicles originated as a TV pilot about twelve years ago so the casting would have to be a younger version of each actor/actress.
Kingston Rais – Diego Luna
Sam Waters – a mix between Sam Shepherd and Tim Gunn
Hunter Silas – Charles Dance
Lincoln Silas – Justin Hartley
Violet Baudoin – Olivia Munn
Lucky – Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Roosevelt Walker – Michael B. Jordan
Pandora Vu – Michelle Ang
HG: Awesome! You released Anything But Pink, an illustrated children’s book, yesterday. Congrats! Tell us about this book, why it’s important to you and what readers will love about it.
JCB: Thank you so much! Anything but Pink is a story about Zinnia who is the only pink person in a very gold world. After being told that pink stinks by a golden bully, she goes on a quest to get rid of her pink for good. Along the way, Zinnia learns a valuable lesson. Will she embrace her unique pink, or will she change to be just like everyone else?
I think Anything but Pink has a timely message for kids to learn about acceptance and embracing their unique selves.
It is my hope that when kids read Anything but Pink, they will enjoy the fantastical world, fun characters, and find themselves in it.
HG: I have two young girls so I’ll definitely be picking up a copy. Do you have more books like Anything But Pink planned?
JCB: Yes, I have ideas for a whole Anything but _________ series. I want to inspire positive mental health from a young age through engaging stories kids can relate to.
HG: Looking forward to what you create! Switching gears, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?
JCB: I love going on adventures where I live in the Bay Area. I love experiencing new places. I love baking. I love spending time with my friends and family.
HG: Wonderful. If you could ask your author idol one question, what would it be?
JCB: I would ask, “How do you keep your creativity fresh?”
HG: Great questions! For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…coffee or tea?
JCB: Harney and Sons Vanilla Comoro Decaf Tea
HG: Bonfire or fireplace?
HG: Are you a morning bird or night owl?
JCB: Morning Bird
HG: eBook or paperback?
HG: Tropical beach or rustic mountains?
JCB: Tropical Beach
HG: Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to get to know you more! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
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