Welcome to Ron Benrey
November 29, 2011
Ron, thank you for visiting my blog today and sharing your thoughts on Inspiration, Author Enjoyment, & Reader Wishes…
Ron Benrey has been a writer forever—initially on magazines (his first real job was Electronics Editor at Popular Science Magazine), then in corporations (he wrote speeches for senior executives), and then as a novelist. He has co-written nine cozy mysteries with his wife, Janet. Over the years, Ron has also authored ten non-fiction books, including the recently published “Know Your Rights — a Survival Guide for Non-Lawyers” (published by Sterling). Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law. He is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
On Inspiration–I co-write cozy mysteries with my wife Janet. Virtually every good cozy begins when the protagonist’s world goes out of kilter. The rest of the novel shows how protagonist restores the order of his/her world. Part of the restoration work involves identifying a murderer, although the murder is never the main plot complication in a cozy mystery.
I generally create the storylines for our novels. So the first question I have to answer is, What will go wrong in the hero/heroine’s world? The answers to that question provide my inspiration, establish the theme of each story, and go a long way to shaping the tone of each novel.
Without really meaning to, I’ve tended to focus on two “problem generators” that can support an endless variety of different plots.
Our “Pippa Hunnechurch Mysteries” (published by Greenbrier Book Company) are “driven” by minor sins that create major problems for the characters. For example, telling “harmless lies” on one’s resumé, doing a job in a way that’s merely “good enough for Government work,” or allowing pride to blind one’s common sense.
Our “Glory, NC, Mysteries” (published by Harlequin Books) and our “Royal Tunbridge Wells Mysteries” (published by Greenbrier Book Company) are stories about the past sneaking into the present—and doing damage. This “garbage from the past” can involve prior relationships, past careers, even crimes committed years earlier.
Here is the synopsis for “Dead as a Scone,” the first novel in our “Royal Tunbridge Wells Mysteries” series:
Murder is afoot is the sedate English town of Royal Tunbridge Wells … and the crime may be brewing in a tea pot!
Nigel Owen is having a rotten year. Downsized from a cushy management job at an insurance company in London, he is forced to accept a temporary post as managing director of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum. Alas, he regrets living in a small town in Kent, he prefers drinking coffee (with a vengeance), and he roundly dislikes Flick Adams, PhD, an American scientist recently named the museum’s curator.
But then, the wildly unexpected happens. Dame Elspeth Hawker, the museum’s chief benefactor, keels over at a board meeting—the apparent victim of a fatal heart attack. With the Dame’s demise, the museum’s world-famous collection is up for grabs, her cats, dog, and parrot are living with Flick and Nigel—and the two prima donnas find themselves facing professional ruin.
But Flick—who knows a thing or two about forensic science—is convinced that Dame Elspeth did not die a natural death. As Flick and Nigel follow the clues—including a cryptic Biblical citation—they discover that a crime perpetrated more than a century ago sowed the seeds for a contemporary murder.
On being an author–Well, I’m not one of those novelists who actually enjoy the process of writing. I find writing fiction hard, lonely work. As has often been said, I enjoy “having written” when the job is done.
When I do press “Save” for the last time, the thing I like most about writing a novel is the opportunity I’ve had to create a “world” more or less from scratch. Even though we set our tea-museum mysteries in the real city of Royal Tunbridge Wells, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum is pure invention—and so are the people. The challenge—and the fun—lies in making these fictional story elements seem real. As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us recognize truth.” This is certainly true about good fiction—the kind of fiction that Janet and I try hard to write.
Reader wishes–Truthfully, I want them to be entertained—to leave with a feeling of contentment, to feel that the time they invested to read our novel was well spent. After all, entertainment is the chief reason that most people read novels. We live in difficult times — a few hours of cheerful escapism provided by a cozy mystery isn’t a bad thing.
I know that some novelists want to advocate positions, make points, change minds and hearts. Well, I agree with Samuel Goldwin, the legendary movie producer, who once said: “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.”
Of course, I do worry about the “take-away” when I write a non-fiction book. When I write fiction, however, I try to entertain readers by telling the best story I can in the most compelling voice I can muster. If a “message” creeps in, so be it. But, rest assured that I did not put it there intentionally.
Ron’s website is at http://www.benrey.com/
To Buy Ron’s book, click on book cover!
Thank you, Ron, for visiting my blog today- and great meeting you!
If you leave a comment, your name will go into the drawing for a free copy of Reticence of Ravens (three copies in total, randomly selected by Buster!)