Ah, Laura Benedict. I could write thousands of words about this girl. I’ve been a fan for years, since her incredible debut, ISABELLA MOON, then a long weekend conference in Chicago many moons ago cemented for life an already burgeoning friendship. Over the years, she has been editor, confessor, friend, golf partner, cheerleader, and so much more. She’s all class and sass, and a very gifted writer.
When I first read BLISS HOUSE, I was floored. The opening page sets the scene so perfectly, captures the voice of the book impeccably, and I knew I was in for a ride. Laura’s writing has only improved with time. Always smart, it is now so polished and sophisticated it takes my breath away. BLISS HOUSE is the book of the summer, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I love it so much I’m giving away a copy today – just leave a comment to be entered.
So. On to the interview with my darling friend and sister-in-arms, Laura Benedict.
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
Julie London singing Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer’s “Blues In the Night.” It’s a classic, and I love London’s velvety, swinging take on it. (it was followed by Elvis Costello’s “(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea.” Talk about a strange juxtaposition.)
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
I’m coming in on the end of a short story about a woman whose husband has thrown her out of the house because he’s come to believe she’s a murderer. Unlike my novels, it’s a straight crime story and has no supernatural elements.
What’s your latest book about?
BLISS HOUSE tells the story of Rainey Bliss Adams, who has brought her daughter, Ariel, to live in the Bliss ancestral home in Old Gate, Virginia. While at first the house seems to help Ariel heal from the tragic accident that badly burned her and killed her father, it begins to reveal its true nature and horrific past after Ariel witnesses a spectral scene that results in a very real dead body in Bliss House’s grand front hall. The house has secrets that it—and the residents of Old Gate—are reluctant to reveal. But only their revelations will save Rainey and Ariel.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
I can’t bear to be tied to my desk all day. It’s one of the reasons I left the corporate world and never looked back. I compose fiction on my laptop, for the most part, and usually park myself on the couch or even in bed (I know. It’s totally decadent!) after everyone is gone from the house in the morning. But I edit my fiction and type blogs, interviews, research questions, etc. on my desktop iMac in the afternoon. I do my plotting and daydreaming in big hardcover spiral journals using a plain old pencil. Never mechanical pencils though. My kids love them, but they seem too fragile, too impermanent for me.
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Poky Little Puppy was my first favorite. I know he eventually had to fall into line to get dessert, but I secretly loved his rebel nature. I never have been good at respecting authority, even though it meant I was often in trouble. I’m convinced he was ADD, like me. Also, I loved the implication at the end that puppies could read the sign: “NO DESSERTS EVER UNLESS PUPPIES NEVER DIG HOLES UNDER THIS FENCE AGAIN!”
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
“All writers know you must hurry to your work in the morning before being derailed, seduced, entranced by another, irresistible “voice.” –Joyce Carol Oates
I took this quote from her twitter feed. I’m especially attracted to the “All writers know…” admonition, which implies that we’re all as single-minded as she is. I very much wish I were. Perhaps that’s why I find it so motivating.
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
If I’m stuck I’ll pop outside for a walk with the dogs, or take a catnap. Either really clean out the cobwebs and let me move on.
What would you like to be remembered for?
My rapier wit. (Subject to opinion, of course!)
I can attest to that! Don’t forget to leave a comment for Ms. Benedict to have a chance to win her book – I’ll draw a winner Friday evening, so don’t delay.
Laura Benedict’s latest dark suspense novel is BLISS HOUSE (Pegasus Crime), praised as “Eerie, seductive, and suspenseful,” by Edgar award-winning author, Meg Gardiner. Laura is also the author of DEVIL’S OVEN, a modern Frankenstein tale, and CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS and ISABELLA MOON, both originally published by Ballantine Books. Her work has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, PANK, and numerous anthologies like Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads (Oceanview), and Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books).
A Cincinnati, Ohio, native, Laura grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and claims both as hometowns. She currently lives with her family in the southern wilds of a Midwestern state, surrounded by bobcats, coyotes, and other less picturesque predators.
Visit www.laurabenedict.com to learn more about her and her books.
More about BLISS HOUSE (Coming June 15th, 2014)
Death never did come quietly to Bliss House…
Amidst the lush farmland and orchards in Old Gate, Virginia, stands the magnificent Bliss House. Built in 1878 as a country retreat, Bliss House is impressive, historic, and inexplicably mysterious. Decades of strange occurrences, disappearances and deaths have plagued the house, yet it remains vibrant. And very much alive.
Rainey Bliss Adams desperately needed a new start when she and her daughter Ariel relocated from St. Louis to Old Gate and settled into the house where the Bliss family had lived for over a century. Rainey’s husband had been killed in a freak explosion that left her 14 year-old daughter Ariel scarred and disfigured.
At the grand housewarming party, Bliss House begins to reveal itself again. Ariel sees haunting visions: the ghost of her father, and the ghost of a woman being pushed to her death off of an upper floor balcony, beneath an exquisite dome of painted stars. And then there is a death the night of the party. Who is the murderer in the midst of this small town? And who killed the woman in Ariel’s visions? But Bliss House is loath to reveal its secrets, as are the good folks of Old Gate.