Writer Interview: Benjamin Weller

Ok, so after a month or so of Writer Interview hiatus, I put out some feelers on Twitter and was AMAZED by the response.  Wow.  Guys.  I’m so thrilled you want to talk to me about my favorite process in the world—writing, revising, querying and all the ups and downs that go along with it.  Thank you. 

One of the writers who found this website via Twitter is Benjamin Weller, whose epic sci-fi story Cloudnigh sounds both fascinating and chilling.  Let’s hear some more, right?

AG: Tell us about your current project.

BW: I’m working on revising Cloudnigh, a sci-fi novel that explores the human race after near-lightspeed travel causes them to evolve, yet attempts to keep society exactly the same as it was on earth. The problem is they’ve wound up on a planet built by an alien race attempting to preserve conscious life, and humans want no part in it, so they’ve isolated them and the tools to help them protect themselves, even though the world is falling apart and they need their help to preserve it. The government’s even set up so that ideas are viewed as viruses, so there’s a pretty heavy degree of censorship.

The story primarily follows a seventeen-year-old kid with a rough home life who sees all this stuff, and in becoming inspired to act, becomes a social revolutionary without any of the ability to handle it. There are a few others--a born-again Christian hacker trying to regain her reputation and her religion, a therapist who inspires his clients to attempt suicide, and a bitter biology teacher whose dreams put him in a hopeless dual reality.

AG: Is it your first book?

BW: It’s my fifth, but the first one that I feel shows any promise. The others were all practice to some degree or another.

AG: How did you tackle the revision process before you queried? Did you use CP’s?

BW: Slowly. I finished the draft in January and sort of had to figure out the revision process on my own. It’s not a small manuscript--around 190,000 words--so I have to be really careful about making sure the story is solid, and flows enough so agents will overlook the length and see what I hope is a compelling, well-paced narrative. I’ve used a few betas, but the real challenge is finding contacts who have been published that are willing to read the darn thing and let me know how far off the mark I am. I’ve got a few, but when you’ve written a brick like I have, there aren’t a lot of people who have the time.

AG: What was the querying process like for you? Any tips?

BW: I’ve only sent out a couple queries, mostly to test the waters. I’m not expecting much right now because I’m still figuring out how the whole process works.

AG:  Do you blog? Where can we find you on Twitter and the internet?

BW: I blog quite a bit. I originally wrote Cloudnigh as a serial on a forum for the Inheritance Cycle. People liked it so much I took it down and spent a year revising before I finished the book proper. As a result I’ve got a blog (livejournal.com/sevenspinner), a Twitter (@BenjaminWeller), and a Facebook (facebook.com/cloudnigh). The Facebook in particular is kind of awesome since a lot of people have popped in to be like, “wow, I love this! Please publish.” I try to lead people on with samples whenever I can.

AG:  What online resources have you used to help your writing and querying and revision process?

BW: I’m pretty self-taught as far as writing goes. I actually was raised reading anything but sci-fi/fantasy. My favorite books growing up were the classics--you know, Dickens, a bit of Tolstoy, and a heck of a lot of Hawthorne short stories. As for revision, I watch the blogs of my favorite writers like a hawk looking for tips. Brandon Sanderson in particular has been a huge help, even though I could never be that prolific. Queries I’m still working out. As far as I’ve gathered, it’s a mix of being concise and making it read like a book jacket and a summary.

AG:  Any extra info you’d like to add or discuss?

BW: Nothing in particular, except that I’m always looking for betas. I don’t mind trading, and I’d love the feedback!

So, friends, how ‘bout we go ahead and follow Benjamin on his adventures, eh?  Twitter, Facebook, and a blog—sounds perfect.  Good luck with your “brick” and I hope maybe you find some betas through this interview! 
As always, I love hearing comments (for the writer and for myself), and of course followers.  The more followers, the more people get to hear about these AWESOME writers and the processes they use! 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:06 PM

    so great that you're writing about us writers in the middle of the querying process - such a great idea! look forward to reading more.