My guest today is Ron Benrey.
Ron writes cozy mysteries with his wife Janet. Ron has been a writer forever—initially on magazines (his first real job was Electronics Editor at Popular Science Magazine), then in corporations (he wrote speeches for senior executives), and then as a novelist. Over the years, Ron has also authored ten non-fiction books, including the recently published “Know Your Rights — a Survival Guide for Non-Lawyers” (published by
). Ron holds a
bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, and a juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law. He is
a member of the Bar of the Sterling . Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Anne – It’s a pleasure to have you visit with me today, Ron. When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?
Ron - I’m a classic “late-blooming novelist.” I didn’t start writing fiction until I was in my 50s. On the other hand, I'd been an “author” (of nonfiction books, magazine articles, marketing literature, and executive speeches) for my whole career. I was an oddity as a writer: I wrote my way through engineering school, as a freelancer and as an editorial-staff intern at two different magazines.
I suppose that I always wanted to write fiction–– especially mystery novels, because I love to read them. But that didn't happen until I had written several million non-fiction words.
Anne –What one or two lines best sums you up as an author?
Ron - Well, the best answer to that question is the tagline I used for many years during my freelancing days: I write interesting words about dull and difficult subjects.I know that sounds odd when applied to fiction, but if you read the cozy mystery novels that I have co-written with my wife, Janet, you'll find that they have relatively complex storylines, settings, and “McGuffins” (Alfred Hitchcock’s great term for the things that the characters care about). I'm quite proud that most readers find these complexities easy to understand–and fascinating.
Anne – I've read a number of your books and thoroughly enjoyed them. J What one how-to write book is a must on your bookshelf? Why?
Ron - I've reached the point in my writing career, when I write how-to books rather than read them. (For example, my “Complete Idiots Guide to Writing Christian Fiction” is widely available.) However, I often recommend “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Browne and King to students at writers’ conferences.
Anne - How long did your journey from wannabe writer to published author take?
Ron - It took us approximately nine years to go from wanting to write fiction to actually holding our first published novel. Unfortunately, we spent the first 5 years writing fiction that was not publishable––because we didn't understand how to write publishable fiction.
Once we figured out the “secrets” (we threw away our initial efforts and began again), the process moved quickly: we wrote a publishable novel less than a year, we found an agent several months later, and we signed a contract less than a year after that. Then, we had to wait 18 months until the book was actually published.
Anne - How many rejections did you acquire along the way? What kept you going?
Ron - Janet and I often joke that we’ve amassed the largest collection of rejection letters in the eastern
What kept us going in the face of all those rejections, was a well-known anecdote about Babe Ruth: During the year he hit the most home runs, he also had the most strike-outs. In other words, he kept swinging. So did we.
Anne - How many books have you written to date? Are you most proud of one in particular? If so, why?
Ron - Janet and I have written nine mystery novels. We are equally proud of all of them, but if were asked to describe one, we are likely to talk about “Dead as a
Scone,” the first novel in
our “Royal Tunbridge Wells Mysteries” series. People tell us it’s a fun cozy,
as the synopsis communicates:
Murder is afoot in the sedate English town of Royal Tunbridge Wells … and the crime may be brewing in a tea pot!
Nigel Owen is having a rotten year. Downsized from a cushy management job at an insurance company in
, he is forced to
accept a temporary post as managing director of the London . Alas, he regrets
living in a small town in Royal Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum , he prefers drinking
coffee (with a vengeance), and he roundly dislikes Flick Adams, PhD, an
American scientist recently named the museum’s curator. Kent
But then, the wildly unexpected happens. Dame Elspeth Hawker, the museum’s chief benefactor, keels over a board meeting—the apparent victim of a fatal heart attack. With the Dame’s demise, the museum’s world-famous collection is up for grabs, her cats, dog, and parrot are living at with Flick and Nigel—and the two prima donnas find themselves facing professional ruin.
But Flick—who knows a thing or two about forensic science—is convinced that Dame Elspeth did not die a natural death. As Flick and Nigel follow the clues—including a cryptic Biblical citation—they discover that a crime perpetrated more than a century ago sowed the seeds for a contemporary murder.
Anne – Where can readers reach you online?
Ron – At our website.
Anne – Thank you so much, Ron. Happy writing to you and Janet!
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AKA Update: I’m visiting Jinx Schwartz today. Please drop by her blog, and leave a comment to win one of three e-copies of Frank, Incense andMuriel, book one of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. The winners will be announced December 9.
Tomorrow on Day 14 of the Mystery We Write Blog Tour my guest will be Beth Anderson.
Comments are always appreciated and welcome, have a super day, and happy reading!
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