This interview features writing advice from published author Ben Kreiselman.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Kreiselman: I first considered becoming a writer at 13 or 14 years old, somewhere around there. But, I never really gave it a serious thought until I was around 21 or 22.
What inspires you to write daily?
Kreiselman: No matter what I do in life, it involves creativity. Whether it’s drawing, playing music, anything really. My parents were both major bookworms, which had an effect on me; I would hear them talk about whatever they were reading at the time. My dad had a really great memory, and he would tell other people in great detail about a book he read. He’d go through the story and explain the details of what happened, and I would hear it even though I wasn’t trying to listen to it. You just couldn’t escape it. After a while, I started realizing some of the stories were cool. But, I also realized ways to improve these stories. That kind of triggered me to start thinking I could write a story like this, start it like that, end it this way, and have all these twists.
Do you have a creative writing process?
Kreiselman: First, I come up with a storyline. I establish what I want to write about. Then, I imagine how it’s going to begin and figure out how I want it to end. From there, I start piecing together twists and turns to get from point A to point B. I map it all out on paper first. I write “1-20” to represent chapters, that may change as I go. But I go into each of the chapters and write down exactly what I need to happen in that chapter. I repeat this process throughout the whole book. Then, I cross-reference. You have to cross-reference as you go to make sure that you didn’t give away something too soon. It’s like a puzzle. So once I have the whole story mapped, I decide who my characters are and assign them personalities; their personalities must remain consistent throughout the story.
After I’m satisfied with what I’ve written, I pick out a group of people I’m close to and have them proofread it before I ever send it to the editor. My sister can find any flaws. I always send my writing to her because I know if there’s something wrong, she’s going to find it. After I’ve had a handful of people proofread my work, I’ll send it to my editor. Once she’s made edits, I can go about publishing. This process looks different for everyone; it depends on whether you choose to self-publish or go the traditional route.
What new experiences have you encountered since becoming a published author?
Kreiselman: It’s neat to walk into a Barnes & Noble and see your face on your book, sitting on a shelf. It’s cool when people come up and recognize me. I kind of have long hair, so people don’t expect me to be a writer. They’ll look at me, prejudge me, and be like, “oh my God, I can’t believe you wrote this book, it’s really good.” I appreciate it.
Can you share how you went about publishing your book, The Rose of Provins?
Kreiselman: I hired an editor, and she did a fantastic job. Once I did that, I hired someone to complete the typesetting for me. The typesetter makes sure the text is aligned correctly for print. I designed my own book cover. I hired an artist, she’s listed in my book, and I went back and forth with her several times. I had to pay a flat fee for the rights to the model’s face. Now, I can use her in any book I want. Once I got the model’s image, I had the artist place her face on my character; we went back and forth several times until I was satisfied with the book cover. For publishing, I went through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I own all the rights to the book. I get more of a percentage than if I went through an agent. The downside to self-publishing is that you’re responsible for your advertising. You’re doing it all on your own. In the next book I write, I may get an agent and publish the old fashioned way.
What drew you to this story?
Kreiselman: What compels me to write any book, is my dreams. I’m an extremely vivid dreamer, and I dream in color. I can smell and taste in a dream. There were times where I would keep a notepad next to my bed, and I’d wake up at three, four o’clock in the morning from some crazy exotic dream. I couldn’t see what the hell I was writing. I would just start writing my dreams on a piece of paper. That’s how The Rose of Provins started.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
Kreiselman: There are different threads within the book. Chapter 1 starts off with Emma, and she actually has a very vivid dream. She wakes up from it and is like, “Wow, that felt so real.” The main character owns an antique shop in Miami. She goes to flea markets and looks for people selling items that don’t realize are antiques. This guy gives her a book, which is a diary. She discovers the diary records dreams she’s having; she’s unable to write in the book. Whenever she has a new dream, it appears in this diary. Then in Chapter 2, the whole story of Jack starts. As I’m going through this book and she’s having dreams about different people in the past, it began to get a little bit confusing.
I had to stop and write entire dream sequences she was having of different people throughout time from start to finish; I started to paint myself into a corner. A corner where I was giving things away when it wasn’t time for them to be revealed. So I had to stop and write entire dream sequences of one person that she’s having a dream about and then write the next one of the next person in a different era of time and so on and so forth. Then, I had to decide which chapter each of these particular dreams was going to happen because they had to happen at the right time. That was the most challenging aspect because this book is not linear by any stretch of the imagination. The story is not told in a straight line, it makes jumps and eventually merges together.
How can new writers establish a good plot in their book?
Kreiselman: It depends on what they’re writing. For me, my plots all come from dreams. Right now, I probably have two dozen books that I could write that are all very different. I suppose for a plot, it depends if you just want to tell a story or if you want to plant seeds of wisdom in people’s heads. But as far as a plot goes, try to be unpredictable. Don’t make it to where people can easily see the ending, throw in a twist in there. Also, make sure that your characters aren’t just carbon copies of each other. Your characters should have distinct personalities and reactions; this adds more colors, spectrum, and depth.
On the note of characters, can you elaborate on how new writers can establish strong characters in their book?
Kreiselman: Buy a big thick zodiac book, each zodiac sign has powerful traits. Be sure to assign each of your characters a zodiac sign and decide whether they are an aggressive or passive representation of that sign. No matter what happens in the book, the characters assigned personality has to remain the same. Sometimes you’re going to have to stop yourself because while you’re writing, you’ll start to write something that a character is doing based on your own personal thoughts. One of the biggest flaws that I’ve noticed in many books is that the author tends to make every character the same. Generally, they’re probably writing about their own personality and don’t even realize it. You have to go back and notice that the character wouldn’t do that, they would have done this. Catching and correcting those inconsistencies makes the book a lot deeper.
So, apart from creating consistent and diverse characters, what important elements create a great book?
Kreiselman: For me, unpredictability. In many books you can see the ending coming from a mile away, and that almost makes the book boring. You always have the main plotline of your book; that’s the big thick thread. But then, you have these little tiny threads, little sub-stories, that intertwine around the main plot as the story develops. You have to think about that before you ever put the first word down on paper. Ask, how’s this book going to start and end? How predictable is it going to be? If it seems to be predictable, ask, how can I make it unpredictable? To me, that’s how you hold a reader’s attention; the reader can’t wait to see what’s coming next because they don’t know what’s coming next. If a reader can just look at your book and say, “oh, it’s going to end like this,” they might put your book down. I strive to make sure that no one wants to put my book down because they don’t know what the heck’s going to happen next.
Do you have any advice for new writers that want to be published?
Kreiselman: 1) Make sure writing is something you really want to do. 2) Take your time. 3) Make sure it’s done right. 4) Check your facts. 5) Have family and friends proofread your work before you put it out there. 6) Once you release your work, there’s no taking it back. If there are mistakes in your work, everyone can see them.
What are you currently reading?
Kreiselman: Currently, I’m not reading anything. I’m actually contemplating a new book to write.
Would you like to share any details on the new book you’re contemplating to write?
Kreiselman: The next book that I write has the purpose of touching everyone in the world. It’s going to be kind of spiritual. It will have something that will touch every person on this planet. No matter your level in life, what level your soul is, whether you’re an old soul, a new soul, whatever type of personality you have. That’s my goal. I want to plant seeds of wisdom in people. There’s a lot of people right now, in my opinion, that aren’t deep thinkers. They’re not really enlightening. I want to create something that leaves a mark on people to help them. It’ll be fiction, but it’s going to be different.
Ben Kreiselman is an author from Melbourne, Florida. He enjoys reading writing and spending time outdoors.