I am really pleased to be welcoming Marilyn Bennett, author of Granny with Benefits, Mummy with Benefits and soon-to-be published Reap, to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to talk about her author influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Judy Blume was my hands down favourite author as a child. She created characters that actually felt like real teens, who had problems and posed questions I could directly relate to.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English at school, but I didn’t really recognise that I was good at it back then. I loved storytelling. I think it was definitely the biggest influence on my reading choices, which then developed outside of school.
It was actually when I started actively job-hunting after leaving school that I recognised I had some form of writing skill. I could write a mean job application! This became a key indicator over the years to come that I could spin a yarn!
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I like to read commercial fiction. I think my writing has mostly been impacted by film and television, which I love. There is a really direct focus on character and story in film and television that can cut to the chase of the narrative in a way you can’t in books.
The fantastic thing for me about writing novels has been the patience and attention to detail I am still trying to master when creating characters and stories, something that is a given on screen, but not in a book. It’s been a great discipline for me above and beyond writing. I am acquiring an eye and ear for the little details and thought processes that don’t translate on screen, but can make all the difference in a book.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
If I were to write a different genre it would be a dark thriller. Since writing my novels I have come to realise, quite unwilling mind you, that I’m a little bit twisted as a storyteller. It’s been unnerving and amusing in equal measure! I start off writing a quite straightforward romance and then it just veers off into slightly darker territory.
I’d love to write a straightforward romance, like a cat and a dog running a tea shop in a beautiful coastal town that fall in love. I know that’s got all the hallmarks of being a successful romance book, but without fail by the end of the book the dog would have his paw in the till and the cat would be having sexual assignations with the fox behind the post office. It’s just how my brain works!
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I wasn’t influenced by another author’s work to start writing purely because my intention for all of my novels to date was to write them as scripts. It came as complete surprise to me when I decided that they worked better as novels. I knew nothing about writing novels.
This all started as a means to finding and doing something that meant I could be creative completely on my own terms. It’s been scary and lonely at times, but I’ve still loved every minute of it.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
This happens to me more with films, because falling in love with cinema in my teens unfortunately put books on the subs bench for a few decades, so Abbie I’m playing catch up!
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl as a child. I come from a working class family and we lived on a large estate in Hackney. The book at the time was a rags to riches tale that fulfilled my dreams of life with endless chocolate and no poverty.
I was in awe of Roald Dahl’s ability to combine his incredible vivid imagination with real empathetic characters.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not yet, but I’m sure they will one day, so I will have to tread very carefully!
A huge thank you for taking part, Marilyn. I really enjoyed reading your answers and I found them really interesting as I think we sometimes forget – well, I do – that film and scriptwriting can be an aid to novel writing, if that makes sense?
About Marilyn Bennett
Marilyn is a Television Production Consultant and has worked in the broadcasting industry for 24 years.
Granny with Benefits and Mummy with Benefits are both out now. Here is what they are about:
Grace is thirty-nine and not remotely convinced that life begins at forty.
When her grandmother dies she volunteers to pick up her belongings from the sheltered accommodation. It is the last place she expects to have a chance encounter with the first man she has been instantly attracted to in a very long time, particularly as she is dressed almost head to toe in her grandmother’s clothing and accessories.
Grace’s granny alter ego elicits a conversation with the man about love, death and the universe, which she is convinced would not have happened otherwise. This inspires her to throw caution to the wind and turn what should have been a simple case of mistaken identity into a dating introduction opportunity for the real her. A decision which sets Grace on a rollercoaster adventure of lies, secrets and lust, making her thirty ninth year one she won’t forget, but might well regret…
Wishes do come true… so be careful what you wish for!
Life appears to have taken a rather positive turn for Grace. She is now working her socks off in a job she enjoys and has quite possibly met the man of her dreams. But there’s just one snag, she’s pregnant and the baby is definitely not his. In fact, she is not acutally sure who the father is.
So when she reluctantly has to dress up as her granny alter ego for one last time, it can only spell trouble. Grace is forced to confront her bad timing, bad luck and suitably questionable choices all head on.
Marilyn’s latest novel, Reap, is due to be published in spring 2019 (I can tell you it’s a cracker!).