- a jack-of-all-trades, heart-on-his-sleeve, outside-the-box writer of YA sci-fantasy.
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
Ben Green has always been a storyteller. When he was a kid, he would tear apart his coloring books and assemble them into crossover stories with lots of drama and lots of glue. Then he discovered action figures and took to burning Cobra agents at the stake and writing/acting out whole episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation. As a teen, he wrote Star Wars fanfiction and began creating his own worlds on a Brother word processor with a tiny screen and floppy disks. Meaning he’s also very old.
Though he grew up in Arizona and Nevada, Ben now lives in southern Minnesota where he puts his degrees in teaching, history, and technology to use as a social studies teacher for non-traditional students. He is passionate about teen issues and at-risk youth. This may be why he spends so much time with his four children, telling stories, working in the garden, and encouraging them to find something to be passionate about.
Ben, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I’m all about utility. So, I would want a beast of burden. Maybe a Blurrg or a Tauntaun, depending on the climate. I do live in Minnesota…so Tauntaun seems appropriate. Then again, If I had a bantha, I would love and care for it so, so much, and together we could create an empire built on an economy of blue milk to rival the Old Republic. Rule the galaxy as father and…uh…I’m veering off here. Ha!
I’ve heard milk is good for you!
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write Sci-Fantasy. So that’s about 70-80% fantasy…like dungeons, monsters, magic, castles, but I mix it up with cyber/solarpunk feels and a world where people are constantly recording you by magical technology. This idea started as a “what if”.
Something like: Why are there so many books about the evolution of elves in modern times? Wouldn’t there be dwarves around too? Would they live in the Rockies? Would they have invented all modern conveniences 1,000 years before humans? Probably. But really, I’ve been making detailed worlds since I was a kid. And writing stories since I could dictate them to my mom.
I love that game of ‘what if’. If we follow ‘traditional fantasy’, we miss out on all of the other potential worlds that never were (unless that whole infinite multiverse concept is right…)
What do you like to read?
I love young adult speculative fiction. One of my favorite books is The Girl Who Drank the Moon. So, fantasy, science fiction.
I love intrigue, mystery, and worldbuilding. I like to be scratching my head, assembling the pieces, and I love when I guess something just before it’s about to happen, but there was a layer I didn’t see coming. I love genre bending and novelty. I’m a big supporter of the indie community, though I read traditional books as well.
Oooh! Now I have a new book to add to my to-read pile.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Show and don’t tell. Avoid passive voice.
I think every sentence can have something interesting going for it, but that doesn’t mean you have to show everything in a very active voice. That can slow readers down and make the words hard to digest. I like to think of it as creating exceptional sentences. Any advice taken to an extreme can be a disservice, but this one in particular can turn good writing into something robotic and unreadable.
Definitely. All of the ‘rules’ of writing are more like guidelines. And minimizing “telling” incidents and passive voice is useful, but following it as an absolute rule 100% of the time is often a detriment.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Story structure and outlining.
It doesn’t have to be detailed, but you must know the structures so you can choose how to use them.
For example: everyone knows about the hook. Songs, books, tv, movies, they all start with a great hook. Why? Because that works. It’s the silent expectation of everyone seeking entertainment. But do they know about the first plot point? How does that work? I’ll tell you the reader watches for that without knowing it and if it’s
missing, something just feels off. So, yeah. I’m not going veer off from story structure. Though, I’m getting much, much better at shooting from the hip. It’s becoming more intuitive, and now a days, I can work from a much rougher outline.
So true. Many of the writers who scoff at purposeful story structure are widely read and naturally use the patterns intuitively. For those of us who worry about pacing, though, having a pattern to follow can help.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
This genre-bending series takes you deep under the Rocky Mountains into the sci-fantasy kingdom of RIMDUUM. A coming-of-age dystopia centered around dungeons, family, and dangerous secrets—with all the young adult cyberpunk feels and plenty of action and mystery to keep you turning the pages.
Debuting today! July 27th:
Book 1: Forged in the Fallout
Clayson Spangler turned fourteen a couple of days ago—maybe. His father keeps the exact date under a mountain of secrets. But secrets have a way of getting out.
On a tranquil evening in the Appalachians, Clayson’s solitary life crashes into his family’s impossible past: a kingdom under the Rocky Mountains; his mother enchanted to forget her own son; strange metal objects filled with magic; and his father’s most dangerous secret—mithrium—a metal strong enough to level cities.
Now, Clayson’s father is on the run, his mother is on trial for treason, and Clayson is ordered to hide in the last remaining safehold—Tungsten City. To stay out of danger, he’ll need help from his new friend, Rugnus, a master of elemental magic, and Andalynn, the sister his father had kept hidden from him.
But after years of secrets, Clayson won’t stand by as a world of enemies—both known and unknown—threatens to eradicate his family and ignite a war between the last two cities deep under the Rockies in the Kingdom of Rimduum.
As the child of a refugee, Jeiah is determined to prove herself to the world by becoming a paladin—a defender of the last free city beneath the Rocky Mountains. All that stands in her way is the challenge. She must enter the dungeon of the long-dead champion Tevlok Bearcloak and race against the only other competitor—an insulting and arrogant young man willing to do anything to win.
But the dungeon holds dangerous challenges and deadly puzzles. A blend of magical technology, powerful objects, and strange connections to the warped truth about the man whose death spawned the dungeon in the first place. Only a true paladin can unravel all of the secrets and reach the end of the dungeon.