Author, Author! (+ Giveaway!) — Lori Benton

19 Feb

Lori Benton has been a go-to, must-read author for me for years! I read her first novel, Burning Sky, and was blown away. It continues to be my most recommended book for fans of historical fiction. Lori is sharing today a little about her writing journey and what she has up next. Thanks so much Lori!

 

Q&A with Lori Benton

Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, making up stories as a child. Really! I was in the third grade and already a voracious reader when my best friend said out of the blue, “I wrote a story.” She showed it to me, and I was instantly intrigued. Could I write a story? It was an epiphany. I wrote a story. And never really stopped. But one day I decided to get more serious about it (I was about 21 by this time) and see if I could write a novel and maybe (if I could figure out how one did so) get it published. That novel, which I did finish, wasn’t published. Nor the one I wrote after that. It was quite a few years later (22 years in fact) before my debut novel Burning Sky reached store shelves. 

Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

My parents always supported and took an interest in whatever I was doing. My fifth grade teacher once made a comment on a book report I’d done that let me know she thought I wrote well. But honestly? I’ve been so driven by my artistic passions that no one needed to encourage me. I’ve always been a self-motivated, where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way sort of girl. 

Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication? 

Yes. Small ones in the beginning. I began writing before there were home computers, Internet, and everything that makes learning to write, research, and the publishing business so easy these days. I also didn’t know any published writers. I just had a story idea and started writing it (on lined paper, with a ball point pen). My learning process was very slow because I lacked the resources available today. A big obstacle I faced later, at age 30 (still writing, still unpublished), was a cancer diagnosis. The treatment was straightforward and I was in remission within nine months, but I then spent several years unable to write because of chemo fog — which eventually cleared, thanks be to God. 

What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc. 

I read dozens of books for each novel I write and spend hours online reading articles or chatting with folks who know about the things I want to put in my novels. I watch any historical documentaries I can find that cover the history, trade, or situation I’m writing about. I watch YouTube videos on things like how to raise a cabin, get dressed in the 18th century, cook food, and travel. Speaking of, I travel to the places my stories are set whenever I can, which isn’t often enough to suit me since I live 3000 miles away from them! But I grew up on the east coast so I have many memories to draw on and know what it’s like to walk through a humid forest in summer trying not to pick up ticks, or what a hardwood forest smells like in autumn. This spring I look forward to visiting historical areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

I thrive with routine, so I’m as structured as I can be. My ideal writing day starts at 9am (earlier if I can manage it) goes until lunchtime, then picks back up from 1-3 or 4pm. Sometimes my afternoon must be given over to getting life stuff done or to writing related tasks that aren’t actually novel writing. If I know I won’t have the house to myself especially during those morning hours (my best writing time), I’ll get up at 3am and work until the rest of the house is up and making noise, around 8am. That strategy keeps everyone happy.

How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

No two books have required the same amount of time. Most of them take 18 months to two years simply to research and write, but I’m not working on just one book at a time now. I’m usually researching and developing one (or two!) while writing another and editing or promoting yet another. I have one very special case (my September 1, 2020 release) which has taken nearly twenty years from initial inspiration to final edits (which are still underway as I write this). 

Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel?

The King’s Mercy was inspired by Paul’s letter to Philemon, in the New Testament. In this brief letter, Paul writes concerning another man he encountered while a prisoner in Rome, a runaway slave belonging to Philemon. This encounter changed the life of this slave, Onesimus. In the letter, which Onesimus is bearing back to his master, Paul describes this slave, once unprofitable to Philemon, as having become a fellow laborer and brother profitable to them both. Paul asks Philemon to receive back his runaway, as a personal favor to Paul, and forgive him. A few years ago it occurred to me that the situation these three men found themselves in might well translate to an eighteenth-century setting . . . and so The King’s Mercy was inspired. 

What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

One thing I’ve discovered about celebrating the redemptive power of Jesus Christ in the form of story is that while I’ve had my conversation with the Lord about these characters and themes during the writing, after the book is published it becomes the reader’s turn. I pray that God will speak to each heart something unique. Whatever that is, I hope they turn that last page more in love with our merciful Jesus than when they began.

Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

My next book will release from Tyndale House this fall (Sept 1). It’s called Mountain Laurel, the first in the Kindred duology (a two-book series). Readers of The King’s Mercy might remember Mountain Laurel. They got to visit briefly with some of its characters in that book. Get ready to time travel forward from that glimpse into life at Mountain Laurel to the 1790s, when I’ll be showing you around the place and uncovering all the secrets it’s been holding for over fifty years.

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing its sequel.

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.

 

Giveaway!

Lori is very graciously giving away a copy of The King’s Mercy to one of my readers. Just leave a comment why you love historical fiction. A winner will be randomly selected on March 4. (Please note: US only.)

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy – exile to the Colony of North Carolina – he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

 

 

 

15 Responses to “Author, Author! (+ Giveaway!) — Lori Benton”

  1. Vivian Furbay February 19, 2020 at 6:18 am #

    I like historical fiction as I find a lot of the stories fascinating when fiction and historical fact are together in a book. Hope this is a print book as that’s all i can read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. joyofreadingweb February 19, 2020 at 8:39 am #

    I too have been a fan of Lori Benton’s stories ever since Burning Sky came out! I’ve read and loved each one, and would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. I was born and raised in Western North Carolina (in the Blue Ridge Mountains) and reading Lori’s stories is like going home!

    Please don’t enter me in the giveaway (I own every book in print). I just had to leave a comment and say “Hello”! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joynealkidney February 19, 2020 at 9:28 am #

    Historical fiction is so much richer than regular novels. The background adds depth and you learn about a corner of history through story, rather than dates and places. They usually have interesting information at the end about how the author learned what she did, and even where to learn more about it.

    Like

  4. Patty February 19, 2020 at 9:39 am #

    I too already have a copy, so please don’t enter me in the drawing. I also often recommend Burning Sky to other historical fiction readers. One of these days I am going to go back and read it again!

    Like

  5. Candy Holbrook February 19, 2020 at 9:47 am #

    I love learning more about a specific time and location in history while enjoying a great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret February 19, 2020 at 10:00 am #

    I love historical fiction because it always leads to wanting to learn more about the time period. It is my way of learning history. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway and looking forward to this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cheryl Barker February 19, 2020 at 11:09 am #

    I love historical fiction because it offers a closer look at a slice of history I usually know very little about. More fun to learn this way than reading a history book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. joanarning February 19, 2020 at 11:25 am #

    I like historical fiction because it takes me back to a simpler time when families seemed to connect more. I don’t want to do without modern conveniences though! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beverly Duell-Moore February 19, 2020 at 11:59 am #

    I loved The King’s Mercy! It’s a book I’ll be rereading. I love historical fiction! I’ve also met Lori Benton personally a few years ago. It was a delightful few hours we spent with her.I’d sure love to get together with her again.She’s a great author!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. miareadsblog February 19, 2020 at 1:43 pm #

    I love being transported to another time! History always has something to teach us and to learn that with our imagination is wonderful ❤

    Like

  11. Victoria February 19, 2020 at 1:49 pm #

    I love it because in each book I’m always learning fascinating tidbits about history I didn’t know before. Also love your books Lori!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. judy maharrey February 19, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

    i have always loved hstorical stories. i think it feels like a less busy time and i love learning how our history ws made.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. amybradsher February 19, 2020 at 10:36 pm #

    I love the way that historical fiction brings the past to life and fills in gaps of history with realistic suppositions and maybes. It’s fun to imagine!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Naomi Musch February 20, 2020 at 11:22 am #

    I love American historicals–almost any period–but if it’s set in the wilderness, all the better. Your writing history resonates with me, because it is almost identical to mine, minus the cancer. Those were the years I was homeschooling my 5 kids. I look forward to your next book. I’ve loved every one so far.

    Liked by 1 person

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