Interview with Australian author Benjamin Grant Mitchell

Benjamin Grant Mitchell

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.

I’ve come to appreciate Ben as a writer and for the integrity he keeps with himself.  You’ll experience that integrity if you read his blogs: Year of Living Sober and Indie Thinkin’.

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:

SabraBen, 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:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Indie Thinkin’

Year of Living Sober

Ben’s novels are at Amazon.com: 

Zippin Pippin and The Last Great Day

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About Sabra Bowers

Poet / Blogger / Writer
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30 Responses to Interview with Australian author Benjamin Grant Mitchell

  1. Emily McGee says:

    Great interview, thanks for sharing Ben and his books with us! I’m looking forward to checking out his blogs too.

    • Sabra Bowers says:

      Thank you, Emily. I had fun learning to do a blog interview and working with Ben. Thank you for leaving a comment for us. I’m looking forward to your posts from Kenya on onetrailingspouse.

  2. Thanks so much for this opportunity, Sabra. As I said in my last email to you I’m very happy to answer any further questions your readers might have by replying in the comments section here. I’ll check back from time to time today, and over the next few days, to check and respond. Ta, Ben 🙂

  3. Pingback: Georgia interview on my mind « Indie Thinkin' by B.G.Mitchell

  4. Great job, Sabra! It’s so neat that the Internet offers the ability to connect to people on the other side of the world. Thanks for letting me know about Ben, whose books sound very intriguing.

  5. Veronica Roth says:

    That was a treat Sabra! Nice to read about such an interesting person and I love how you posted his information so I can learn more. Ben’s The Last Great Day sounds like something I’d love to read. (Having more than my fair share of dysfuctional family…lol)

  6. John Panic says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Your light is really starting to come out! I love the style you seem to have to make folks seem comfortable, but still bring content of value!

    Keep it up and let me know what I can do to help support your efforts!

    • Sabra Bowers says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love how supportive you are John. Ben is a very comfortable person, so he was easy to have a good interview with. Thanks for leaving a comment, John.

  7. Elyse says:

    Sabra, what a lovely, informative interview. You do have a nice touch.

    Ben, it’s nice to hear a bit more about the man behind the blog(s). I just received Zippin’ Pippin’ in the mail and am looking forward to diving into it.

  8. bookendings says:

    Wonderful interview Sabra. The question and answer pertaining to Ben’s memoir intrigued me as I, too, am wrting a memoir of sorts. I often wonder how much I should include, or if there are some instances I should gloss over. But, I was encouraged by Ben’s response that, “I felt it was important for me to ‘own’ my childhood.” Although the memoir I am writing is actually a series of stories from my mother’s memory of growing up, there are times that I wonder if I should not include some of the family’s skeletons. Yet, I think that they are important to include. They are, after all, her memories and they obviously influenced her or they would not have stayed with her for over eighty years.

    • Sabra Bowers says:

      Thank you, Yvonne. The interview flows because Ben is comfortable with himself and shares who he is. I know Ben could speak to your concerns. He did write it as a novel. Why he wrote it as a novel would be a good question to ask him. Very good to hear from you. I’ll be interested to see Ben’s response. Best!

    • Taking Sabra’s prompt…the one extra thing I’d like to share with you Yvonne is that one of the reasons I wrote The Last Great Day as a novel was I felt uncomfortable with the idea of putting my words into real people’s mouths (as I feel is sometimes unavoidable when writing a certain type of memoir). Though my story is based closely on actual events in my early childhood, I could not remember every word spoken (to me, by me) and so I embraced the fictionalising aspect. Having said that my approach didn’t seem to make a difference in terms of how some of my family responded to me sharing our story with the world. In that light I think you should just go for it. Every family has skeletons. Only the fearful and shameful keep them locked up forever; the courageous learn to accept all the parts (acts?) of the greater story they are a player in.

  9. Sabra Bowers says:

    Ben, I need to take that to heart, myself. In a poem I said I was bold and had wisdom. Now I need to embrace courageous, in a big way.

  10. We’ll all be here cheering you on, Sabra. Bold, wise AND courageous? There’s no stopping you…

  11. Lisa Yvonne says:

    bold wise courageous and unstoppable! love your blog Sabra and the interview with Ben. Thanks for sharing to you both.

  12. Gerry Wilson says:

    Sabra, what a terrific interview. And Ben, I needed your advice about letting go and going with the flow of life but also turning the computer on first thing! I enjoyed your response to the question about why you wrote The Last Great Day as a novel, especially this: “the courageous learn to accept all the parts (acts?) of the greater story they are a player in.” I’ll take that to heart. I’m so glad I read this interview! Thanks to both of you.

    • Sabra Bowers says:

      Thank you, Gerry. Your comments mean a lot to me. Ben’s thoughful, honest answers made this an interesting interview. So glad you read it and found value in it.

    • Hi Gerry. Thanks for your lovely comment. It’s great to get such positive feedback, especially from talking/writing about what I love. Good luck with everything you do, and with whatever words spill out onto your screen (or whatever creative work you find yourself doing) after you flip that switch!

  13. Balancing a family, performing arts, and writing does take flexibility. The interview reminds me to breathe and enjoy all the creative outlets in my life. Best Regards, Lynn

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