Today I’m pleased to introduce you to author Benjamin Grant Mitchell. Ben is special to me because he was the first blogger to comment on my debut post at Later, Miss Slater. I was excited because he was a writer from the other side of the world…Melbourne, Australia.
Ben has also written two novels. His first novel is based on the true story of his birth family and is titled The Last Great Day. His hot-off-the-press novel Zippin Pippin takes its title from Elvis Presley’s favorite roller-coaster.
Now for the interview:
Sabra: Ben, I know you have a young family and that you are a full-time novelist. Is there a secret you can share about how you balance and treasure all the busy, varied parts of your life?
Ben: This is the secret: I let go. Whenever a tension arises in my working or home life, it’s generally because I’ve got some expectation of how I think a certain situation should work out. Let’s say I want to finish a draft of my novel by so-and-so date, but then a family member’s birthday coincides with the weekend I was planning on working through to finish it off. I just remind myself to be flexible. And not in a I-should-do-more-yoga way. I mean I try to go with the flow of life as much as I can. Generally I have more ideas for blog posts than I can keep up with, so I just trust that the best ones will rise to the top of the next-to-do list in my bubbling blogger’s mind. Goals and deadlines are important for getting things finished, but ultimately, I do tend to put family first. Though if you ask my wife, she might say I put turning my computer on as soon as I get up as priority one. She’d be right too.
Sabra: I also know you were a working musician and actor. What made you decide to devote yourself to writing?
Ben: Since I wrote my first song as a love-sick (and burned) teenager, the writing part of my creativity has been at the forefront of what I love to do to express myself. I love all the arts but after years of juggling lots of creative balls, when I decided to write a novel, I thought I should give it everything I had. Having said that, I was recently asked to play a part in an indie film by an up-and-coming Melbourne director and so I got to do a bit of acting again for the first time in a few years. It was great fun and I’m definitely open to doing more acting, but I’m sort of done with the whole auditioning bit. One thing I love about the writing game…and especially now with the rise of the indie author, there’s nobody between you and the audience. If I write something I want to share, I can. I don’t need to convince a casting director, director and producer of my ability to deliver…I just do it.
Sabra: Your first novel was based on the story of your birth family. Looking back, are you glad you wrote The Last Great Day and was your family supportive of your writing?
Ben: I’m definitely glad I wrote The Last Great Day. Not only do I think it is an intriguing story…made all the more because it is based on fact…I felt it was important for me to ‘own’ my childhood and my memories of a time when my family was going through some tragic and turbulent times. My wife was very supportive of me telling the story, as were my parents-in-law. But even though The Last Great Day is my personal, fictionalized account of my early years growing up in a Christian fundamentalist sect, I know my brother, mother and father found it confronting to be the central characters of the story. I wrote from a place of great affection for my family and so I was a little disappointed they didn’t seem to appreciate that. But at the same time I understood. Maybe I’d respond the same way if someone wrote a book with a character based on me as the hero. Then again maybe I’d be flattered.
Sabra: I know you are excited about your latest novel Zippin Pippin. I also know that readers will be intrigued to learn that your protagonist is the son of the late Elvis Presley. What moved you to give Angus Flynn his famous parentage?
Ben: It all started with The King, a song I wrote sometime around 2003 while living in London. At the time, I was working as a musician and music promoter and spent my days writing songs in my East London bedsit and my nights road-testing them in Camden pubs and other London venues. I remember the night I performed The King there was an eerie presence at The Fusilier and Firkin (or was it the Caermarvon Castle by then?) and I think I sang better than I ever had before. From that moment I knew there was something more to come out of that song, though I didn’t know it would be a whole novel…and hopefully a rock n’roll movie. I’ve done one draft of a screenplay based on my novel and it includes all of the songs Angus, the stage-shy roadie, writes while travelling across America. The story continues…!
Sabra: Ben, in closing, is there anything you would like to add to our interview?
Ben: Only to say thank you for this opportunity to share a bit about my writing life with your readers and also to say how I am honoured you chose me to be your first interview. It’s a privilege and I look forward to coming back and reading lots of other fun and informative interviews. Good luck with your plans for your blog and all your other writing, Sabra.
Sabra: Thank you, Ben.
You can connect with the author Benjamin Grant Mitchell at:
Ben’s novels are at Amazon.com: