Writer’s Window: Bente Gallagher & Jennie Bentley
Today, we have with us a wonderfully talented mystery and suspense author, Bente Gallagher, who also writes as Jennie Bentley. Bente and I met almost exactly one year ago when we both hitched a ride with another dear friend and Nashville author, J.T. Ellison, to the author-day event at the Manchester/Coffee County Public Library. (Shameless plug—Bente, J.T., and I, along with many other local authors, will be at the library again this Saturday. Click here for more details.)
One lucky commenter* will win a signed copy of Mortar and Murder, A Do-It-Yourself Mystery from Berkley Prime Crime. Deadline for leaving a comment to enter the drawing is Friday. To enter the drawing, you must answer the question posed by Bente at the end of the interview. Only one comment per person will count toward the drawing. You do not need to include your e-mail address in the body of your comment—just make sure it’s correct when you sign in to leave your comment. Congratulations to Maureen Timerman who won last week’s drawing for Ronie Kendig’s book Digitalis.
- *U.S. residents only, void where prohibited. If you win the drawing, you will be ineligible for the next three drawings, though hopefully you will still come back and join in the discussion.
Mortar and Murder
When Avery and Derek take on the renovation of a decrepit 1783 center-chimney Colonial house on a remote island off the coast of Maine, they soon get more than they bargained for.
A grumpy thriller-writing neighbor, a mysterious animal that lives under the porch, and the dead body of a young woman floating in the ocean between Rowanberry Island and Waterfield Harbor conspire to make this the most thrilling and dangerous renovation Avery has ever undertaken.
Book 4 of the Do-It-Yourself Mystery series
What do you like best about being a writer?
Going to work in my pajamas…?
I guess it’s a combination of a lot of things, really. The voices in my head get too loud if I don’t write down what they say occasionally, so I do it partly in self defense, so as not to go crazy. It’s nice to be able to play with my imaginary friends all day, too. Getting to make up stories for a living is great. Plus, I’ve never been a good employee. Being my own boss rocks.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The proximity to the refrigerator makes it tough, especially combined with the sedentary lifestyle. I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t be in better physical shape if I had another job. Then again, I’d be in worse mental shape, between the voices in my head and the fact that I’d have a boss I’d have to answer to…
Pop, Soda, or Coke? What do you call it, and what’s your favorite variety?
Coke is my favorite, and I call it soda. That said, I drink a lot of Diet Dr. Pepper to avoid the carbs in Coke. Tastes more like the real thing.
What’s your favorite dessert?
That’s a tough question. Not sure I can name just one. A lot of it depends on mood. Growing up, my favorite was caramel pudding, or flan. I’m also extremely partial to tiramisu. Fresh strawberries sprinkled with sugar and served in heavy cream. Apple crisp with ice cream. Ice cream on its own, for that matter. Yeah.
What’s the most fun/interesting/crazy/scary/unique hands-on research you’ve done for a book?
See, I became a writer so I wouldn’t have to actually do anything. Most of my research happens online. I have done a bit of ghost hunting from time to time, though, although very little of it has made its way into books yet. Maybe one day. And no, I haven’t seen a damned thing in my travels. Not sensitive enough, I guess.
What’s your favorite movie from childhood?
Don’t know about childhood, but I do love The Goonies. Classic kid adventure story from 1985. It’s all about friendship and sticking together and saving the town from evil real estate developers. Plus it has Josh Brolin. What’s not to like?
If you were to write a novel about what your life would have been like if you’d become what you wanted to be at eight years old, what kind of character would the story be about?
Probably a spy. Maybe a writer. Although I don’t think I considered writing as a serious career until later. Might have been an archaeologist. Or an actress. Or an artist. I wanted to be all of those at some point; I just can’t remember exactly which one it was at eight. I do know I never wanted to be a nurse or a teacher or any of those normal careers.
What makes you happy?
Chocolate. My kids. The ocean. Going home.
What makes you nervous?
Heights. And water. Bugs freak me out too, but that’s a lot more than mere nervousness; that’s debilitating fear.
What’s your biggest dream for the future?
World peace? It would be nice to do my job well enough to be able to keep doing it, and to make a living at it. For my kids to grow up and be happy and healthy. For my husband to stay that way. For the world to regain its collective mind. I’m not holding my breath on that last one.
Tell us about your newest release and what you’re working on now.
Mortar and Murder was released on January 4th. It’s the fourth book in the Do It Yourself home renovation series from Berkley Prime Crime, about a designer and a handyman who renovate houses together in a little town in Maine. In this installment, they’re working on a 1783 center-chimney Colonial on an island off the coast, when they run up against a reclusive thriller writer, a group of human traffickers, and a couple of dead bodies. The plot involves a character from DIY-2, Spackled and Spooked, and a new kitten in addition to the two Maine Coons that have been a big part of the series so far.
DIY-5 is already written and scheduled for release in October 2011, and I haven’t started writing DIY-6 yet. We’re between contracts at the moment, so we’ll just have to see how it goes and whether the publisher will want more books in the series. I’m also ahead of the game in the Savannah Martin series; the second of those, Hot Property, comes in June, and #3 is written and will be coming in 2012, God willing. I’m playing with a couple of other projects at the moment, trying to decide where to go from here. There are plenty of voices in my head with stories they want me to tell; it’s just a question of picking the right one.
Where can people find out more about you/connect with you online?
Website: www.jenniebentley.com or www.bentegallagher.com (same site)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jenniebentley and www.twitter.com/bentegallagher
Group blog: www.workingstiffs.blogspot.com (first Friday of the month)
Group blog: www.southernauthors.blogspot.com (every month and a half or so; it varies)
Now it’s your turn to ask the question. What question do you want to ask the commenters to answer?
If you could turn yourself into a character in an existing book, who would you choose to be and why?
Bente Gallagher writes the nationally bestselling Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime as Jennie Bentley, and the Savannah Martin real estate mysteries for PublishingWorks as herself. A former Realtor® and renovator, she lives in Nashville with her husband and two boys, a hyperactive dog, a killer parakeet, two frogs, and a couple of goldfish. A native of Norway, she’s spent 20+ years in the US, and still hasn’t been able to kick her native accent.
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