John Bennardo Interview
The Indie Book Butler Interview.
Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.
John Bennardo: It might have taken a while to get back to saying this, but I am a humor writer. I wrote short stories and poems through my teenage years and into college, but my love for movies turned me into a screenwriter for much of my twenties and beyond. I produced, wrote, and directed an award-winning documentary about $2 bills, but recently the prose writing bug began biting me again, and I started my first full novel. It is now on Amazon and was a great experience and something I’m very proud of.
IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?
JB: Everyone needs to laugh, and there aren’t many consistently funny books out there. Mine will keep you laughing throughout.
IBB: Where do you like to write?
JB: I have a home office, but I spend so much time in there working on things for my business, that I have to get OUT to feel fresh and create. I found the most comfortable spots to be at the kitchen table or even my couch – with my feet propped up.
IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?
JB: Sounds horrible to say, but I need my wife and son to not be home! There are just too many natural family distractions, too many stop-and-starts, and too much background TV noise to really focus the way I want to. When they’re not home, I can find a comfortable spot and zero in.
IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
JB: My love for reading and writing began at a young age, so there were many childhood favorites – like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – that inspired me. As an adult, I love the wit of Dave Barry, and some of his recent novels helped get me to sit down and write and be funny again.
IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
JB: Put simply, writing more. I feel I’ve always been a good writer, but those muscles had atrophied and needed to be built back up. The more I write, the better I get.
IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
JB: I was always a writer as a child, but I got away from it for a while as adult responsibilities took over. I really enjoyed getting back to it, and it’s a wonderful creative outlet for me. But you also want to share it and you want to entertain people with your work. So, what I’d like to achieve is the continual joy of creating, but also growing an audience who appreciate the work. Simultaneously, to be able to make a living doing it would allow me to write even more. I’d like to achieve success that allows me to keep writing.
IBB: Have you received a favorite review of your work?
JB: My new humor novel got a fantastic review in The Book Review Directory. 5 stars and lots of comments about skilful writing and story structure. Easily my favorite new review.
IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?
JB: The writing has its normal ups and downs where you are unsure how to tackle a scene or whether something you wrote works. But I’m confident I’ll always get through it. The publishing is something I’m still learning! I had to recruit some help to make sure all the steps were done properly. My goal is to publish on my own with no help next time.
IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
JB: Rewrite! I thought the first draft of my novel was pretty good, but looking back at it, it was wordy and not very visual. I believe you become better by looking at what’s wrong and fixing it – and understanding how and why the fix improves the work. So the key for me is to get the first draft down; it acts like a mold of clay that you now can sculpt into something better. That practice will make future first drafts be better each time.
IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
JB: Tough question. I “auditioned” several editors with samples, and finding someone who got my sensibilities and didn’t want to rewrite everything was tough. To answer the question, the best relationship would involve an editor who gets out of the way of the author’s vision and simply finds mistakes or can make suggestions that the writer can consider when tidying up the work.
IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?
JB: Some people are not going to respond to your work. That’s just a fact. There is nothing I can say to anyone who hated my writing except to empathize in the fact that it just wasn’t for them. But I’d probably say the same thing to someone who loves it and hates it – I’d thank them for investing their time in it. Reading is a commitment, and no one is obligated to read anything I write. I’d express my gratitude either way.
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
JB: Be true to yourself. Don’t write for others; write for yourself. Be confident in what you ultimately send out to the world.
IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?
JB: I hope I can build a following that anticipates my next book, and in turn, I hope to have my writing become an income stream that allows me to keep doing it. I’ll write either way, but it would be nice to accomplish more than just self-publishing.
IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
JB: It starts with the concept. I first asked some artist colleagues to draw up sketches based on a few elements of the book’s story. I gathered ideas from them as well as someone I hired on Upwork. Once I approved the concept, I hired a book cover design company (Damonza). They offered some new ideas, but ultimately I went with the concept I liked, and we tweaked it to perfection.
IBB: How often do you read? What genre?
JB: As a writer, it may be true that I don’t read enough – at least not actual books. I read a lot online, but I do have several books that I slowly work through. Some are humor novels, such as Dave Barry’s Lunatics and Kevin Wilson’s Nothing To See Here, but I also read books on book marketing and other self-help titles that I can learn from. Total mixed bag.
IBB: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JB: Writing is not easy. Starting and finishing a novel, and also going through all the steps to publish, takes a while. Anyone who goes through that process is to be commended. I appreciate some of the writers I’ve mentioned in the above answers, but there is no one person to single out. If anyone reading this underestimates what it takes to get a book out there, please know that all writers deserve recognition!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.
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