Author Spotlight: Ben Starling
Today we are featuring our good friend and fellow blogger, Ben Starling, whose novel ‘Something in the Water’ was released yesterday.
First of all Ben, tell us a little about yourself. How do you keep mind, body and spirit in shape?
I think writing keeps my mind fit. An awful lot of thinking goes into a novel, both when staring at the screen and when untangling plot points with my long-suffering editor. Body – I boxed on and off until a few years ago. It really is the king of sports for keeping you in shape. If you’re wondering why my nose isn’t flattened, it’s because I took defense seriously, so didn’t get hit very often. These days I hike (at least half an hour each day, to a great Mediterranean themed coffee shop, and back, most mornings) and swim. Spirit – I believe we do have a spirit and am constantly exploring theories and reflecting on this topic. In fact, this is a theme explored in my new novel.
What have you been working on recently? Can you tell us about your new release?
Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too. Here’s the blurb:
The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…
What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life? On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.
When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.
Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon. http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am
How did you come up with the plot of Something in the Water?
This tale was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer in 2012, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive.
Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. Through the written word, I hoped to explore and capture several extraordinary events that happened around the time of my girlfriend’s death. The novel and the series kind of took off from there…
In fact, the novel has three plots that intertwine like a treble helix. There’s the love story, the building menace of what the baddies are up to, and there’s an ancient legend recorded in a manuscript. Each is dependent on the other, and they come together at the end. It was, unsurprisingly, quite difficult juggling the components, making sure there were no lags or holes…but I’m excited by the end result.
Writing-wise, are you an early bird or a night owl?
A bit of both. I’m up quite early (around six) and then walk briskly for fifteen minutes to a coffee shop where I drink caffeine and read the paper. Maybe chat to a few regulars. Then back, and my writing day begins. I try and do a big chunk before lunch, have a light meal, and then take a twenty minute semi-nap on the sofa to recharge. By that I mean, if I fall asleep, it’s only very lightly. Then some more writing and maybe an evening walk in the park or along a local canal. Back for another chunk of writing and I’m pretty exhausted by the evening. That’s when I read over all the day’s work.
Do you take a structured approach to your writing – set a target number of words for each day?
That’s an interesting word, “structure”. I found it helpful to plot the structure before I started. The novel contains three interwoven plots and each needed to develop through several stages, before they came together at the end. I had about sixty Post-it notes, in three colors on the wall that each had a theme or scene written on them. But when it came to writing, I allowed myself time to let the creative juices flow. You can’t hurry creativity – many ideas need sleeping on. Then on to re-writing! So, while I had a rough idea of how many words I wanted to write a week or a month, I often found myself way above or below this figure.
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I once fell through the ice in a lake. Fortunately I was near the side and the water was only two feet deep. But it was ridiculously cold…
What can we look forward to next from you?
Something in the Water is supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.
The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon) and the second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!
Something in the Water – available on Amazon http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am
Something in the Air –
• available for FREE at www.ben-starling.com and
• available FREE at Kobo http://bit.ly/SITAbtour2kobo .
• Also at Amazon http://bit.ly/SITAbtour2am
Something on the Fly – coming soon!
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Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…
New York, September
He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.
He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?
As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?
No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?
What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.
“How on earth…?”
Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.
“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.
But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.
You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at http://ben-starling.com/chapter-one/
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BIO & SOCIAL MEDIA
Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3”and 185 lbs. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.
Connect with Ben at www.ben-starling.com
Something in the Water has a wonderfully gripping beginning. We race along behind the heroine as she desperately tries to find the owner of a mysterious box. A mysterious box that has her name on it and was dropped by someone from the other side of the world. Someone she was destined to meet, and soon.
Mysteries abound in this magical adventure, and I loved the way the author, Ben Starling, describes everything in such revealing detail. I could smell the ocean and feel the sand between my toes. Everything came to life on the page and seemed so real.
The heroine, journalist Teal Douglas, is the kind of young lady determined to write about the wrongs she encounters, exposing the evil that people do, even when she finds herself up to her neck in a world of political greed and illegal practices.
In this novel, you get two stories for the price of one, for an ancient guidebook creates a perfect analogy, reflecting the modern day problems of some of the world’s most beautiful places.
The attempted slaughter of Solomon, a sacred old whale, had me in floods of tears, but there was much worse to come. Solomon survives, severely wounded and returns to say goodbye… but what happened next tore my heart to shreds.
Apart from the fact that Something in the Water is a cracking good story, the author manages to get the conservation message across in such an easily understood way, which should help to bring about the changes our planet so desperately needs.
A beautiful story, beautifully told. Ben Starling is an author to watch, for he is surely going places…