Laura Benedict: How A Really Nice Girl Writes Really Scary Stories

Laura Benedict“You don’t look like a person who writes scary stories.”  Laura Benedict hears those words often, and it makes her laugh every time. “Should I dress in all black? Wear smoky eye makeup and dangerously long, red fingernails? Or should I perhaps be a man?”

Laura Benedict’s latest dark suspense novel is Bliss House, praised as “Eerie, seductive, and suspenseful,” by Edgar award-winning author, Meg Gardiner.

Laura is also the author of Devil’s Oven, a modern Frankenstein tale; and Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts and Isabella Moon, both originally published by Ballantine Books.

Her work has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, PANK, and numerous anthologies like Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads and Slices of Flesh.

A Cincinnati, Ohio native, Laura grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and claims both as hometowns.

She currently lives with her family in the southern wilds of a Midwestern state, surrounded by bobcats, coyotes, and other less picturesque predators.

Laura Benedict Interview

Scroll down for a complete transcript of the interview or click the Play button below to listen to the interview now. And don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you thought of this interview!

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Books by Laura Benedict

Laura Benedict Transcript

Tim Knox: Hi everyone, welcome back in to Interviewing Authors. Laura Benedict is my guest today. Laura is the author of wonderfully haunting books like Bliss House, Calling Mister Lonely Hearts, The Devil’s Oven, and Isabella Moon. When you look at Laura you’d never suspect she writes such scary stories, but looks can be deceiving. Her stores are scary and dark and she’s been compared to the masters of the genre like Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

This is one of my favorite interviews because Laura opens up about her craft, her process, her journey, and how she writes stories that might leave other authors shivering in their boots.

So here then is my interview with Laura Benedict on today’s Interviewing Authors.

Tim Knox: Laura

Laura Benedict: Hey Tim, I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

Tim Knox: I’m so happy you and I both got the kids outside and the dogs in bed or something like that and now we can have a nice conversation.

Laura Benedict: Yes, yes.

Tim Knox: Before we get started, if you will, give the audience a little background on you.

Laura Benedict: Let’s see, background on me. I think the best thing I could say about myself as far as being a writer is people look at me and they say, “You can’t possibly write the stuff that you write,” and I have to ensure everyone that, yeah, I write all that scary stuff. I have kids, I have animals but I’ve got a very twisted brain inside. So that’s me in a nutshell.

Tim Knox: It’s a very dark place in that head.

Laura Benedict: It is. It’s a scary, scary place.

Tim Knox: We’re going to talk about that because you write dark, mysterious, keep Stephen King up at night kind of things. Before we do go into that let’s go back in time a little bit. Have you always been a writer?

Laura Benedict: No I have not always been a writer. I have always been a reader. I think any writer worth his or her salt started out as a reader. I actually loved books so much when I was a kid, I was certain I was going to be a librarian. I loved to be around books, I loved to read books, I loved to escape into the stories.

I came from a family that wasn’t particularly creative and I never understood that it was possible to be a writer. So I didn’t come to writing until I was in my 20’s. I was working for the ginormous beer company in St. Louis; you know that one. I was working in sales promotion for one of their subsidiaries and I was hiring a lot of copywriters for brochure copy.

I just fell in love with the writing and I found myself rewriting this copy. I was buying it and I was like what am I doing? This is crazy. Because I wasn’t a professional writer. I realized what I wanted to do was write myself. I wanted to do fiction – not that a lot of copywriting doesn’t border on fiction. I decided I wanted to tell those stories that I had to tell.

So even though I had my undergrad degree in business I went back and took some writing classes and that’s really how I got started. I was about 25 years old when I started writing seriously.

Tim Knox: I’ve interviewed probably 100 some odd authors and you are the first one that has been inspired to write from beer ads.

Laura Benedict: It’s crazy. It’s funny, it’s not even just beer ads. It was for theme parks. It was a crazy thing but I think it was a confluence of I was 25 years old; I had a good job but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life and I read a lot in my spare time. I didn’t really want to go the beer route. It was hard to give up the two cases of beer a month free. That was tough.

Tim Knox: That’s quite a perk. I know a lot of writers who would go through that in a week.

Laura Benedict: And I have to tell you, it was one of the attractions for my husband. When we were dating he’s like, “You get two cases of beer a month!”

Tim Knox: You’re almost the perfect woman. Let’s talk a little about that because I find that interesting. You’d always been a reader, and I hear that a lot from authors. Did you read the darker, scarier stuff when you were younger or did you come into that later in life?

Laura Benedict: Well some of the first books I owned when I was past the kid’s books, I got a book of the collected Sherlock Holmes stories when I was in about 4th grade. My grandparents also gave me the collected Poe. One of my grandfathers, we’d go to the library and get a stack of 10 books a week. So I got a love of reading from him.

My other grandfather was not as big a reader but he had those condensed versions of books, like Reader’s Digest condensed versions. I first started reading the condensed version of Edgar Allan Poe but then I got the real thing. I started out with those classics and then when I got a little bit older, when I was about 11 I got a copy of Jane Eyre at a book fair. I fell in love with gothic storytelling.

I really came to the classics first and then got into Stephen King and Dean Koontz and those sorts of writers. I forgot who wrote The Sentinel. There’s all these weird, spooky books from the ‘70s that I adored and started reading those. Some were a little mature for me but they were scary and that is what I wanted.

So I did start out reading those things and that’s what I liked to read sort of from middle school on, up through college when I started branching out a bit.

Tim Knox: So when you decided to actually become a writer you went back and took some classes, that sort of thing. What was the first thing that you wrote?

Laura Benedict: I wrote a… I was so excited to write this story. It was a completely ridiculous story about – I don’t even know where I got it. I grew up in Cincinnati and the grandfather who was always taking me to the library, he would take me downtown. He collected stamps. I don’t know if you know anything about Cincinnati but it has a wonderful atmosphere downtown and it’s kind of an old downtown.

There was the Union Terminal down there and I had this story where this little boy conned an old lady in the bus station for money and he told her some big sob story and he really just wanted to get her money and then he felt really guilty about it. That was my big story.

I didn’t know about writing short stories. The only short stories I’d read were a long time like with Poe. I didn’t really have a literary background. So that was kind of an odd little story and I got an A+ on that story.

Tim Knox: Did you really?

Laura Benedict: I really did. I was so proud of myself that I got an A+ on that. That was in an undergrad level writing level. I did two of those classes and then I kind of talked my way into a grad workshop. I said, “Oh I really want to do this.” “Well you’re not a major.” “Oh come on, let me in,” and they did. I was completely overwhelmed because I really liked stories with plots. I loved horror stories. The MFA program 25 years ago were not geared commercial stories.

The professor who was leading the workshop, after the whole room had savaged me, said, “You know, you’ll never get this published. It’s too commercial. It’s too old fashioned.” That’s really hurtful to hear but I’m stubborn and so I kept writing. I finished the course and just kind of went a different direction.

I wanted to write exciting stories. That’s what I wanted to do.

Tim Knox: You were one of those authors. I love hearing these stories about the professors telling you it’s no good or to give up. Do you ever want to go back and go, “Hey, nan a nan a nan a”?

Laura Benedict: I kind of do. It was actually where I graduated with my business degree and he is now professor emeritus and he was like a baseball writer. He’s gone from there now. I harbored a lot of animosity toward him for a long, long time and then I thought, well success is kind of the best revenge.

Tim Knox: Exactly.

Laura Benedict: So I’m enjoying my career and whatever. He was doing his job and he was right in one aspect. I was not really setup to write MFA literary style work. I did go on later and even kept trying to do that later on and it never really took with me. So he was right; he was absolutely right.

Tim Knox: It’s a bit highbrow.

Laura Benedict: And it’s funny; I don’t mind highbrow. What I can’t stand is boring.

Tim Knox: Which is most of what highbrow is, in my opinion.

Laura Benedict: But you look at somebody like Cormac McCarthy. His early work, there is nothing more literary on the planet. It’s almost inaccessible to a lot of people. They won’t go back and read The Orchard Keeper. “I like No Country for Old Men but The Orchard Keeper… what is that?”

I mean that is actually highbrow work but it’s good and it’s exciting and it’s weird. I think the thing about so much that is passed off as literary writing is… what is the phrase? I’m terrible at quoting people and I can’t remember who said the quote. “Literary short stories are full of quotidian epiphanies.” Little, tiny things where you’re like did I just seriously read 20 pages for this? That I have a problem with.

Tim Knox: When you did get out of this class and you ignored the advice of this professor, let’s talk a little about your first book that you did get published.

Laura Benedict: I had short stories along the way.

Tim Knox: Did you publish those in magazines?

Laura Benedict: I did and I had a piece in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which was quite exciting for me. My grandparents read that and I thought that was just the coolest thing ever. Before I published Isabella Moon, which is my first novel, I picked up a copy of Ellery Queen and just to see what sort of contemporary mystery and crime stories were like.

I could feel myself sort of inching toward that. I’d written two practice novels that were kind of coming of age stories but I found a Joyce Carol Oates story in Ellery Queen, in this particular issue. I love her work and there’s no one who was more literary. She has written everything. She’s written crime, she’s written horror which she calls grotesque, she’s written family dramas.

She had a crime story in there and it was just a pure crime mystery story and I thought, oh my gosh, if Joyce Carol Oates can write a crime story and have it in Ellery Queen, who am I to sniff at that? Why shouldn’t I do that? That was really my first foray into crime.

They don’t really do supernatural and Isabella Moon does have supernatural elements.

Tim Knox: The short stories you did for Ellery Queen, were they crime?

Laura Benedict: Yes they were both crime. The first one was about a woman who coincidentally like me had a baby who had a hard time sleeping. Her husband was out of town and she had this colicky baby and she was just completely overwhelmed.

She lived in a little cul-de-sac and there was an older lady across the street. The older lady really disdained her and this young woman was desperate for a friend and so she kind of started stalking the woman and wanted her to be her friend. Of course she’s overwhelmed, not sleeping. Eventually she kills her with cake.

Tim Knox: With cake. That’s the way I want to go.

Laura Benedict: The other one was another Cincinnati story about a man who falls in love with a woman and ends up murdering her bad boyfriend. That was kind of set in the 1950s, 1960s. Those were straight crime stories, which I still love to write crime.

Tim Knox: Did you find that your time writing short stories, was it helpful when it came time to write a novel? Did it teach you restraint? I can’t write short stories because I just love the sound of my own voice too much.

Laura Benedict: I’m not a natural short storyteller. I do sort of ache for the long form. I ache for the long descriptions and I want to sort of really be into the characters. So writing a novel was a huge relief for me but I kind of went backwards. Even though I was writing short stories all along, my first practice novel took me eight years and my second practice novel took me four years.

So when I decided to write that crime short story, I had to be brief. I had been writing long and lazily for a long time and that taught me brevity. It’s funny, something like Twitter – when I first started doing Twitter, @LauraBenedict by the way, I fell in love with it because it forces you to condense, it forces you to look at those precise details. Like a poem, you have to get the message in there succinctly.

So it did help me when I went back to write novels. I was not so lazy about it. Does that make sense?

Tim Knox: It does.

Laura Benedict: My chapters became more like short stories and they were more contained. Things were a little more contained.

Tim Knox: I wrote a newspaper column for a number of years. I remember when I submitted my first column to the editor, it was about 3,000 words. He emailed me back and said, “You do realize this is an 800 word column?” I went, “Yeah but don’t you have room?” Really, learning to do that in the newspaper business for so many years, it’s helpful now but we do have a tendency I think to be a little longwinded. A good edit I think makes for a better book.

Laura Benedict: Yes, absolutely. It does make a better book and it’s funny you told that story about the column. Along the way for about 10 years before I wrote Isabella Moon, I did book reviews for the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. I basically decided I wanted to do it and I just submitted a review that was for Tabitha King’s book called Survivor. I think that review was about 3,000 or 4,000 words long. The editor was like, “I really like this but it’s a little long.” So I learned very quickly that book reviews have to be short.

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Tim Knox: They do. Let’s talk a little about Isabella Moon, your first novel. How did you come up with that concept, and tell us a little about the process of writing your first novel.

Laura Benedict: Well when I decided to write Isabella Moon, I was 42 or 43 years old and I’d written these two novels and I had published a short story, or various ones but the big one was in Ellery Queen. I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my life hoping I would publish a novel. I wanted to actually write the thing. I gave myself a year to do it and I drafted it in about 11 months.

Tim Knox: Isabella Moon is such a great name. If you haven’t read the book, she’s the ghost of a little girl but you couldn’t come up with a better name I don’t think. I really like that.

Laura Benedict: Thank you. I really like that you like that. There are actually people named Isabella Moon. There was a jewelry store, sort of an online jewelry store called Isabella Moon and I just loved how mellifluous Isabella Moon sounds. I love that image.

It’s a very rural story. It’s set in a small town in Kentucky and a woman named Kate is sort of on the run, sort of hiding in plain sight from an abusive husband from South Carolina. She sees this little girl, Isabella Moon, and she’s very lonely and so she goes off to… she sort of follows the girl’s ghost into a cemetery. It’s really the story of discovering what has happened to Isabella Moon but it’s not primarily Isabella Moon’s story. It’s Kate’s story and sort of what happens to her when her husband comes looking for her and her backstory.

That’s my Kentucky book. I grew up in Cincinnati but I grew up in Kentucky and I adore Kentucky. All of my novels have place at their center. For Isabella Moon that place was a small town in Kentucky.

Tim Knox: So you gave yourself a year to write, you finished in 11 months. Did you self-edit? Did you get someone outside to look at it?

Laura Benedict: Let’s see. I’m trying to think of who actually read it. I had friends who kind of beta read it for me. Over the next two and a half, three months I revised it. I drafted it in 11 months. I had acquired an agent along the way, Susan Raihofer at David Black Agency. She had been really kind of pressuring me to publish the second practice novel that I had. I personally felt it wasn’t ready and Susan was really ready to sell a book for me. She loves my work, God bless her. I bless her every day. She loves my work and she loves to talk about my work and sell my work.

So Susan was very excited about selling the novel and we got the package put together. Of course you have to do marketing projections and all that sort of thing, which I had no idea about that kind of stuff. I was kind of flying blind.

She put it together on a Thursday and we were very fortunate, there was already some buzz about it among the foreign scouts and U.S. So she sent it out on a Thursday for people to read it over the weekend and then we had several people who were interested but we had a phone call. She had a message like 8:30 on Monday morning from Ballantine Books at Random House. They gave us a very nice offer for two books very quickly. My first book went out and I had a deal in four days, which is unheard of.

Tim Knox: So you’re that author. I hear about you.

Laura Benedict: Yeah you do hear about me but what you don’t hear about is it was nearly 20 years after I started writing seriously.

Tim Knox: Right.

Laura Benedict: That part people don’t hear.

Tim Knox: Hugh Howey, when I was interviewing him he goes, “You know I’m an overnight success that’s been doing this for 10 years.” How’d you get hooked up with your agent because you know as well as I do, for most authors getting an agent – it’s harder to get an agent than actually get a book published? How did that happen for you?

Laura Benedict: When I had the Ellery Queen story, they published that story and I got a call from an agent and he said, “Are you represented? I would love to represent you.” I was like, “Oh you know, I am.” I was hugely flattered that somebody outside of my circle was interested in my work.

I met Susan, my husband is a writer and he was publishing at the time I was actually just getting started. He had already published a book. There was a woman in his office who handled foreign rights. So we would talk on the phone and I got to know Susan; we got to know each other. I had a very friendly ear for my work and fortunately she loved it when I developed as a writer.

She and I have been together a long, long time. I did not have to go through that harrowing process of querying. I did not. I know many, many people who have and I am so grateful I didn’t have to do that because I probably would have just cried. I got a lot of rejections from magazines along the way and every one, I cried. I literally cried for every one. I only now don’t cry when we get rejected.

Tim Knox: You have finally developed a thick skin after all this time.

Laura Benedict: I suspect she probably shields me from a lot of the harsher criticism. She knows I cry.

Tim Knox: So Ballantine bought the book. What was the process like? I’m sure you did a happy dance and then what was the process of working with Ballantine on the first book? How did you get along with your editor?

Laura Benedict: I got along very well with my editor. He was so young. I think he was probably 26 or 27 and here I was in my 40s. I felt like I was having my son edit me. It was a very odd sort of experience. I had no experience in book publishing so he had been doing it a few years I gather.

It went fine. The manuscript went back and forth, and the good news is I have no problem being edited. I actually kind of enjoy being edited. When I write something I visualize it but I’m not… some writers are so wedded to their vision and I admire that but I never want to be in a position where an editor doesn’t feel comfortable saying to me, “This isn’t working. You’ve overwritten here.” I never want to be that writer.

I’ve written all these novels but I still feel like every time I start, I’m starting over again. I want to keep growing as a writer. I knew with that as my first published novel that I had a lot of growing to do. I did listen a lot and I did make edits.

I’ll tell you the funniest edit that just totally cracked me up. I know no boundaries in my first drafts, my second drafts. I will put the most bizarre stuff in. I love bizarre. I had this character who was being murdered and the killer sawed off his head. So I wanted the murderer to take his head and kind of bowl it into the room where the heroine was and just literally roll it like a bowling ball. He said, “You know Laura, that’s a little over the top.” “Oh really?” I loved that.

I’m an old soap opera watcher from way back and only in the last five years I gave it up because I didn’t have time and I love a little bit of melodrama. In the end he was absolutely right. It was over the top. I went back and thought about it and cutting someone’s head off is actually hard. It’s not like whoosh. It’s actually, if you’re not super practiced at it, it’s kind of a hard thing. There’s a lot of sawing that goes on in that crime.

Tim Knox: You also have to wonder how well a human head rolls. It’s not perfectly round. Is it going to go off to the side?

Laura Benedict: I was thinking with the neck horizontal it was going to go fine but whatever.

Tim Knox: So what kind of writing does your husband do?

Laura Benedict: My husband is a literary writer and he is primarily a short story writer. He wrote a book called Town Smokes, which was published actually before he even got out of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He was finishing up the publication of that book.

He writes the most exquisite short stories. He’s from West Virginia and he’s kind of the original hillbilly noir guy. His stories are very visceral and strangely enough they also have a lot of plot in them. I would love to be able to write the way he does. His stories are perfectly polished. He also will write science-fiction and his novel, Dogs of God, was about a bare knuckle fighter who ends up living in the mountains and gets involved with a drug kingpin. I would call it very masculine fiction.

Tim Knox: I bet he’s never bowled a head.

Laura Benedict: Not that he’s told me. After 24 years of marriage we still have our secrets. He’s also done screenplays and he’s a neat guy. One of the choices I made when I wrote Isabella Moon was I wanted not to be in any competitive arena with him. I’ve always been in awe of his writing and he is so well trained. He went to Princeton and then to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His writing skills are very finely honed in. He’s a professor in a creative writing program now and he’s a brilliant teacher.

I knew I could never do that because I didn’t start young and I’m not trained. That is why I went to supernatural and into commercial fiction. That’s one of the big reasons. One, it called to my heart from when I was very young and, two, two writers living in the same house doing the same thing is scary.

Tim Knox: That’s why I was asking you what he wrote because I wanted to know if you guys were in the same genre or not. I agree with you, it’s probably good that you’re not.

Laura Benedict: Yes, absolutely perfect that we’re not. In fact when we met, we actually met at a writer’s workshop and he was my teacher. It was in Hindman, Kentucky – the Appalachian Writer’s Workshop. I was there for a cheap vacation. I just started to write and he was the workshop leader.

It was kind of intimidating so I’ve always been intimidated by that but we’ve worked it out now. He’s stopped being my teacher fairly quickly because we just decided we’d rather be married than have me sitting outside his office crying, wondering if he likes my work.

Tim Knox: I love that. So you are four books in now and each one of them is in… do you call it horror? What do you call it?

Laura Benedict: You know, it’s tough. I’m a tough genre to sort of pin down, which drives publishers crazy sadly. I call it supernatural suspense. The suspense part is each one of my books has at least one mystery in it. I think of horror as having supernatural agency over human agency. The supernatural part is the overwhelming part. In mine the supernatural is a factor but it’s very, very human action. I love a mystery.

Tim Knox: I’m reading some of the descriptions of your books on your website. In my mind, reading the description for Devil’s Oven… Carl Hiaasen could have written this description. I’m like, wow that sounds like a Carl Hiaasen book with some really evil stuff going on. That’s a huge compliment because I’m a big Hiaasen fan.

Laura Benedict: I feel that compliment.

Tim Knox: In fact I think Meg Gardner is the one who turned me onto you. She’s a big fan of yours as well.

Laura Benedict: I love her.

Tim Knox: Let’s talk a little about your process in the time that we have left. You’re doing this full-time now. Do you write on a schedule? Do you write whenever the muse strikes you? What is your process?

Laura Benedict: My process has always been around my kid’s schedules.

Tim Knox: Welcome to life.

Laura Benedict: Yes, a writer with children – that’s a challenge. I’m up in the morning. My son is 15 now and I have a daughter who is in grad school now so I don’t have to make her breakfast anymore. She lives far away now. I get up and I make him breakfast and make his lunch. He gets off to school.

My days since he’s been in first grade have been pretty much sort of 8:30-3:00 or 3:30. That has been my schedule. I try to exercise every day because that helps get the creative juices going. I have developed lately… I will say I have a pretty intense case of ADHD and I find it very hard to focus and I find it very hard to focus at home. In the past year in order to boost my creativity I often leave home and go to the library and work because I don’t really have internet access and I can’t be distracted. That is the way I work best, writing on my laptop without internet.

It’s not perfect because I’m a real homebody and the call to be home and the call to be involved in my home life is extremely strong. There’s always that tension for me between my family and my work, always tension.

Tim Knox: Let’s talk a little about your anthology series. You do an anthology called Surreal South. Tell us about that.

Laura Benedict: It’s with Press 53 and they actually came to Pinckney and me and said, “Hey we’d like to do an anthology. What would you like to do?” We talked about it and what we found and what Pinckney, my husband, has seen in workshops and things is there are a lot of really good writers out there who are literary writers but they also write some weird stuff. It’s not often safe for them to write weird.

Back in 2007 when we started the series it was a little more unusual. Now that publishing is open there’s a lot more online. You see a lot of writers being accepted to come out of their genres.

So we called it Surreal South and we had Robert Owen Butler, we had Ron Rash in that first one. We had Daniel Woodrell, Tom Franklin. So we had a great time putting a lot of people we knew who were really fine writers and then we also wanted to put in newer writers to encourage them. We had very high standards.

We did three editions of Surreal South and then frankly the time it takes to put together an anthology like that was overwhelming and I wasn’t getting my writing done, my personal writing. I was dropping family things and I just needed to say, “Hey, we did three volumes of this.” The last one was edited by a former student of Pinckney’s who’s gone on to be a wonderful writer, named Josh Woods. I don’t know who’s doing 15 but Josh did the last one and he did a fabulous job.

Tim Knox: Your books kind of center around the South. Do you think there’s an air of mystery and a little bit of supernatural here in the South? I’m from Alabama. I think it’s about as surreal as you can get. You think it’s a great place to put a story like you write?

Laura Benedict: I absolutely think so. There’s such a sense of not just history but family history. I have found there’s a lot of leeway for being crazy.

Tim Knox: There is in the South. Boy, that’s the truth.

Laura Benedict: It’s funny because living in Cincinnati, it’s Southern-ish but when you cross the border into Kentucky there’s a lot more acceptance for weirdness. They’re more relaxed about it and the deeper South you go, the more flexible it becomes. There’s a real tradition of storytelling and there’s a tradition of suspending disbelief and a little unreality. I adore Tennessee Williams. There’s just nothing more surreal than Tennessee Williams.

When I wrote Bliss House I wanted to go back to those gothic roots. We lived in Virginia, I gave birth to two Virginians and there is nowhere more gothic than Virginia.

Tim Knox: The South just seems to have such an air of history and romance. Everywhere you go there are these ghost stories and that sort of thing. The South just naturally lends itself to that genre.

So what are you working on now?

Laura Benedict: Well Bliss House came out in June, which is a haunted house story set in Virginia. I am actually working on a sequel to Bliss House but it’s not exactly a sequel; it’s a prequel. In Bliss House, in this series, the house is the continuing character. The house was built by a man named Randolph Bliss in the late 1890’s. So I started with a contemporary story but there are a lot of stories in that house, just so many stories.

So Bliss House, my recent book is contemporary and then this one will be set in the 1950’s and I’m having a blast working on that.

Tim Knox: I love that idea. I don’t know if you know Bette Lee Crosby but she does a series of books, different characters but the same town, same very small, Southern town. To do that concept with a house, I think that’s a brilliant idea. You’ve become a master of this genre. What do you think it takes to write a really good supernatural, dark mystery like this?

Laura Benedict: It’s funny. I feel like a novice all the time. I think you just have to let your imagination go there. You have to be able to look at the dark places and you have to be able to accept the violence, accept the fact that people can be very scary. This stuff, yeah there’s supernatural out there. I believe evil is an entity but we let it into ourselves and let it into our hearts. I think you have to be able to believe great good in people but you also have to be able to believe that people are capable of evil. You have to let yourself and then it flows from there.

Tim Knox: Right, and every now and then you can’t be afraid to roll a head across the floor.

Laura Benedict: That’s right. Even when they tell you to stop, you have to try.

Tim Knox: Even if it’s wrong. Laura Benedict, this has been a pleasure. Tell folks where they can learn more about you and your books.

Laura Benedict: You can go to LauraBenedict.com and there I have all about my books. You can sign up for my newsletter and see my blog. I giveaway stuff every month. I’m just like a full service website there. I’m on Twitter and Facebook and you can find all my books in all the usual places.

Tim Knox: Very good. Before I let you go I have to get my last question, which is always the same. The audience for this show are writers who would like to do what you’ve done. They’d like to sell more books, get an agent. What’s your best advice to these folks?

Laura Benedict: Write the best book that you can. Keep your butt in the chair, write the book. If it’s a good book it’s going to find an agent, find an editor and find an audience.

Tim Knox: Talent always bubbles to the top.

Laura Benedict: Fingers crossed. You’ve got to throw a little bit of luck in there.

Tim Knox: Laura Benedict, this has been a pleasure. We will put up links to your websites. I’m going to go download The Devil’s Oven. This sounds like something I’ve got to read tonight. We’ve enjoyed having you on the show. Come back and talk to us again.

Laura Benedict: I will. Thanks so much, Tim.

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