Bliss House by Laura Benedict

Laura Benedict Talks About Her Writing Life and New Novel-2014

August 2014 — An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Laura Benedict

By Columnist Doreen Akiyo Yomoah

Bliss House
by Laura Benedict

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AUTHORLINK: I haven’t had the chance to finish Bliss House yet, but it’s already creeping me out. Have you always had an attraction to the morbid?

BENEDICT: I don’t know about the morbid in general, but I was a huge Stephen King fan as a kid. As a young teenager, I wrote dark poetry and I loved Edgar Allen Poe. That was some of the first spooky literature I ever read. And then I read [Charlotte Brontë’s] Jane Eyre, which was really gothic. I believe Bliss House is really a gothic.

I’m not a big reader of horror genre now, but I do read a lot of mysteries like those by Louise Penny. I prefer the stories I write to have a mystery–Bliss House is like that.

AUTHORLINK: I saw on your website that you are obsessed with dark chocolate and sushi, I am too! Are you a closet foodie, or have any other non-writing hobbies?

BENEDICT: I’m a baker. I love to bake things, and cook for my family. We live in Southern Illinois, and it’s very rural. There’s not exactly a lot of fine cuisine available, so when I travel– I’m almost ashamed to say it– I love to eat good gourmet food– but if there’s a good sushi restaurant I’m there every night.

AUTHORLINK: Do you travel a lot?

BENEDICT: I don’t really travel much. When my first books came out I did extensive book tours, and I love to take road trips. I’ve been to England and Mexico, and Quebec City is now my new favorite city in the world. It’s a wonderful old world city and the food is fabulous.

“My characters develop themselves. If they don’t, then they are out of luck . . .”

AUTHORLINK: How do you develop your characters in your novels?

BENEDICT: My characters develop themselves. If they don’t, then they are out of luck and can’t be my characters. Ariel [the protagonist] in Bliss House is the first character that came to me really formed. She’s a good character, but villains are the most fun and the easiest to write. I don’t know what that says about me.

AUTHORLINK: Is this story based on any true elements?

BENEDICT: Bliss House has a theater in it. There is a famous haunted house, The Wiley House, near San Diego. I was fascinated by the fact these people at built a theater in the house. I thought it was so strange. I immediately put that in Bliss House.

“. . . I read and read and read, but I never imagined I could be a writer.”

AUTHORLINK: You’ve written several novels. How did you get into writing? Did you always know that you wanted to be a novelist?

BENEDICT: No, I really didn’t. I was always a huge reader, I read and read and read, but I never imagined I could be a writer. It wasn’t in my realm of possibilities. I thought I’d be a librarian because I loved books. I came to writing through copywriting. I’m not a classically trained literary writer. I didn’t do an MFA, but took some college writing classes after I graduated. The professor made fun of my stories.

AUTHORLINK: What do you have coming up next?

BENEDICT: Well, I am actually working on the second book for Bliss House. Because it’s such a huge fabulous house that has existed for over 100 years, it’s full of stories. This is the way it’s going to work: I am going backwards in time to the beginnings of the house, and perhaps even jumping around in time. The next book is going to take place in the 1950’s. So I hope that Bliss House will be a series. I see four books, but I could do five.

AUTHORLINK: If you might do five why not go all the way and do seven, JK Rowling style?

BENEDICT: Well… I’m a little older than JK Rowling was when she started. But you never know.

About the Author:

Laura Benedict is the author of several novels of dark suspense, including Isabella Moon and Devil’s Oven. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine as well as numerous anthologies, and she originated and edited the Surreal South short fiction anthology series. She lives with her family in Carbondale, Illinois.

About Doreen Akiyo Yomoah:

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a nomadic freelance writer, currently living in Dakar, Senegal.