DJGBC Interviews: Author Ben Burgess Jr “MONSTER”

ben burgess jr1. Where are you from?

I grew up in Queensbridge which is located close to Astoria in Queens. I moved to Freeport, Long Island at the end of 7th grade.

2. Tell us your latest news?

I recently won the 2013 Reader’s Favorite book of the year Award!  http://readersfavorite.com/book-review/8769 and now I am a nominee for Male Author of the year with OOSA Bookclub’s “All things literary awards”

3. When and why did you begin writing?

When I was in the 8th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marcus gave the class a poetry assignment. My poem was on basketball. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember my teacher was blown away by it. She encouraged me to keep writing. She was one of my most influential teachers, and I promised her if I ever wrote a book, I would write a poem about the Holocaust for her (She was Jewish, and had family in it) my dream was to publish a book. I continued to write throughout high school and college. My college professors told me I had talent, so I decided to go to open mic’s and perform my poetry. Hearing people cheer for me and appreciate my words, inspired me to want to keep writing. My first published book was “Times Have changed and Life is Strange.” It was a poetry book. I wrote a poem for Mrs. Marcus called “Holocaust” keeping my promise. The poem “Ugly” from “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange”, is the poem that inspired me to write “Monster” I reflected on my life, and felt this would be a good story that would teach and possible change people’s lives.

4. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer in 8th grade when I continued to write my poetry.

5. What inspired you to write MONSTER ?

“Monster” (My first novel) is based off my life and experiences. After enduring some pretty interesting experiences, I believe that “Monster” is a story that can benefit everyone and it’s a story that needed to be told. I was inspired to write it to teach people. I feel that people can learn from my mistakes.

I wanted people to learn that:

1.      Every action has a consequence- It can be good or bad, but there is a result for everything we do.

2.      We need to take time to truly heal emotionally and mentally after a break-up. If we don’t we are bound to bring that pain into future relationships.

3.      We need to be conscience of our actions. We never know the effects they can have on other people.

4.      In order to move forward in life, we have to learn to let go of negativity, and to forgive ourselves.

Times Have Changed and Life Is Strange was my first published book (Poetry) That book was also based off some of my life experiences, my friends experiences, listening to people, and people watching.

6. Do you have a specific writing style?

I think I have a unique style because I try not to write about the typical urban fiction topics (Gangs, drug dealing, etc) there is nothing wrong with those topics, but I try to focus on things that almost everyone can relate to. I like to write very realistic books because I believe they can engage the readers more effectively, and they can make people look at their own lives in different ways. I also like to share my poetry as a bonus in the back of my novels. I think it gives the reader a little more to think about and enjoy when the book is over.

7. How did you come up with the title “MONSTER”?

A Monster to me, is a being that devours without any remorse. It’s a creature that can be destructive, manipulative, and crafty to get what it wants. A Monster has no emotional core, and I felt when I was going through that period in my life that my actions were turning monstrous. I felt the title would draw people to want to read this story.

8. Is there a message in your “MONSTER” that you want readers to grasp?

The message that I try to instill in my writing is, as people we should always strive to be better. We should always want to become better versions of ourselves. I also want people to see that whether they like it or not, no one is perfect. At some point even the “good guys/girls” aren’t so good. I try to make my books very realistic. I wanted people to learn that:

1. Every action has a consequence- It can be good or bad, but there is a result for everything we do.

2. We need to take time to truly heal emotionally and mentally after a break-up. If we don’t we are bound to bring that pain into future relationships.

3. We need to be conscience of our actions. We never know the effects they can have on other people.

4. In order to move forward in life, we have to learn to let go of negativity, and to forgive ourselves.

9. How much of the book is realistic?

Monster is based off true events from my life. I changed names and mixed certain events up, but Monster is 90% true.

11. What books have most influenced your life most?

Richard Wright’s Native Son was the first book that inspired me to become an author. I remember reading it and feeling every trial and tribulation that the character “Bigger Thomas” was going through. I wanted to move people the way I felt that booked moved me. I felt that book would forever have an impact on my life and the way I saw things. After reading that novel, I wanted to write books that would have the same effect on readers. Eric Jerome Dickey’s Milk in my coffee was another book that was a game changer for me. When I read it, I loved how his books felt like everyday life.

12. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would have to say Eric Jerome Dickey would be somewhat of a mentor for me. He has been one of the few main stream authors to actually contact me. He sent me a personalized autographed copy of his new book “Decadence” , he has encouraged me to continue to write, and he has even supported my book when it was first released. That was an amazing experience for me, seeing my writer idol support my work.

13. What book are you reading now?

I’m still reading “Decadence”

14. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Lately I’ve come across a lot of new talented authors. Christine Hazel, Kennedee Devoe, Christiana Harrell, Christopher McGoldrick, and Jerrice Owens.

15. What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing two books “Wounded” and “Love and Happiness” I would like to have “Wounded” out by December, and I would like to have “Love and Happiness” out by February.

16. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My friends (There are way too many to name, but they know who they are)

17. Do you see writing as a career?

I love writing. Writing makes me happy and helps to relieve my stress.  Right now I see writing as a career because I plan on dedicating myself to the craft and writing more novels.

monster 118. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in “MONSTER”?

I’m a perfectionist, so I think there would be things I would think about changing, but in reality I’m happy with how the book came out. I’ve learned so much from writing this book. If it weren’t for my trials and tribulations with this book, I don’t think I would’ve have grown as much as I believe I have.

19. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest stemmed from my eighth grade teacher Mrs. Marcus.

21. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Getting every characters voice down can be difficult. I love to people watch, and listen to how people talk, so my writing can sound authentic when people read it. To write in the voice of a woman is hard because while I may talk to a lot of women, and have a somewhat understanding, I’m still not a woman. I have to constantly go over my writing to make sure that it sounds like something a woman would say.

22. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favorite writers are Eric Jerome Dickey, Richard Wright, Zane, and Carl Weber. Reading their work always pushes me to want to be a better writer.

23. Do you travel much promoting your book(s)?

I haven’t traveled yet to promote my book, but I do plan on it. A goal of mine is to have my book all over the world.

24. Who designed the covers?

I designed the cover. I wanted a cover that explained what the story would be about, and a cover that was appealing to men and women.

25. What was the hardest part of writing “MONSTER”?

The hardest part was re-living the situations. I’m not proud of myself during that period of my life. Thinking about those situations made me feel guilty for some of the things I’ve done, but I wrote this book to kind of atone for those things. I talked to a lot of the girls that the characters in the book were based off and 95% of them are ok with me now.

26. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes. I learned that even if you feel that you know a lot about writing and the writing industry, every book will humble you and show you that you still have a long ways to go to get to that mainstream level. I learned that you will find out who your real friends are. Some will support you, some won’t. Some will be jealous, and you might lose some friends, but you have to take the good with the bad and keep moving forward. I’ve learned that you have to always try to improve as a writer. Every book should show your growth and continued passion to get better in your craft. I’m still learning.

27. Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say to never give up on your dreams. If you want to be a writer, learn the craft. Research, read other successful authors, learn what makes them successful, take a class, read books, but never give up on writing the story you want to tell. There will be times when you want to quit, when you feel like your work isn’t good enough, and you are just wasting your time. When you feel like that, work harder. Learn what you need to improve. Listen to criticism, even if some of it is not flattering. You don’t always have to apply everything you hear in regards to criticism, but it is important to keep an open mind and to not have pride block you from improving. We can always get better.

28. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers before we end this interview?

I want to say thank you to everyone that supports me, or plans on supporting me. I’m a very approachable guy, so if anyone has any questions or wants to contact me, here is all my info:

Twitter: Ben_Burgess_Jr Author Ben Burgess Jr Links for purchase: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Ben-Burgess-Jr/dp/0988374501/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360595955&sr=1-1&keywords=Ben+Burgess Barnes & Nobles http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monster-ben-burgess-jr/1114313407?ean=2940016249223

Facebook Fan Pages: https://www.facebook.com/BenBurgessJr  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monster/231214637006067 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17340040-monster

Email me at: AuthorBenBurgessJr@gmail.com

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