Interview with Ben Henderson, Author of The Annulment
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being an attorney. I always pictured myself in a very high profile role as a trial attorney. The courtroom battle is where I envisioned I would display my love for the law, eventually leading to a seat as a judge and then a political career. Once I got into Junior High School my athletic ability began to take center stage and I found that I was spending way more hours on the basketball court than I did dreaming of a legal or political career. Playing basketball at Imperial Valley Community College (Imperial, CA) and then Houston Baptist University (Houston, TX) opened up a world of opportunities for me. The vision quickly changed to NBA all-star, but apparently I thought more highly of my talents than the pro scouts did.
What was home like?
Home was a very tranquil place for me. My father, Dr. A.B. “Bo” Henderson was a Southern Baptist minister. My mother, Faye, was a stay-at-home mom tending to the many activities associated with our family’s busy schedule. When I was 2 my parents adopted my sister, Angel. Angel had Downs Syndrome and when she was 7 she was diagnosed Leukemia. My parents were extremely giving people and at the time Angel received the news of her cancer I had 9 foster brothers! It was like “church camp” at my house 24/7!
The inspiration for The Annulment is truly a story of timing! I received a BA in English and a BA in Political Science from Houston Baptist University. For several months in late 2009 I kept telling my wife, Jillian, that I just felt this “sense” that I was supposed to be writing. When she would ask me what I was going to write about I always replied that I didn’t really have a clue but maybe a story would come to me. One day during a routine sales call with a potential client in Tyler, TX he began to tell me about a case that he had been involved in back in the early 1990’s. That case was the premise for The Annulment!
Who or what has influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, the single greatest influence for my writing would have to be John Grisham. It is probably a little risky to take on the same exact genre as your idol, but I have devoured every book that Grisham has ever written. My favorite works of his are definitely his earlier books, especially A Time To Kill. It’s probably worth mentioning that my love of literature was also sparked by a high school English teacher, Tommy Larance, and a college English professor at HBU, Richard Denham. Those two men seem to bring words to life and really taught me to dig in and evaluate not just the words on the page but also the underlying rythm and artistry of how they were put together.
How did you separate fact from fiction with this story?
The only real “fact” incorporated into my version of The Annulment is the premise itself. In other words, the fact that a woman tried to dupe her husband out of a ton of money that should have rightfully been split between them. Every conversation, situation and characterization is completely fabricated! While there are legal issues and activities woven into the plot, the real story for me is the interaction and relationships between the characters. I had no intention or desire to simply write a biography of what did or didn’t happen, I wanted the freedom to allow the story to take on a life of it’s own and go where it needed to go.
Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
The real message of The Annulment can really be found in the first few pages. I believe that we all face moments in life where we are a crossroads between “conviction” (that inner voice urging us to act in a way that is consistent with who we really are) and “self promotion” (the little devil sitting on the opposite shoulder prodding us to always look out for number 1). This story is a prime example of how far down we can travel once we start down a slippery slope! I’ve learned that cliches become cliches for a reason, they are usually true. Once the final page is turned, my hope is that readers will also remember to never judge a book by it’s cover. Everything that glitters isn’t gold!
Since this website is about marketing, talk to us about some of your favorite blogs and websites you visit for marketing advice.
As far as marketing is concerned, I have a pretty extensive background with the subject. Before my career with LexisNexis began I was a Regional Sales Manager for Yellow Book USA (a national independent Yellow Page publisher). I spent 24 hours a day thinking about how to not only maximize clients marketing efforts, but also trying to develope my own strategies for acquiring and retaining more clients for myself. I honestly haven’t gotten into the world of blogs until recently. I really should give you the credit for that! As our relationship developed over the past 3 years I have learned more about internet marketing than I ever imagined existed and the majority of that knowledge was developed over the many hours that you and I spent building and developing portfolios for law firms.
Finally, any advice to writers just starting?
There are a couple of things that I would advise new authors to do. One being, don’t quit reading. It is probably pretty safe to say that the majority of people who like to write and want to write spend most of their time writing. We research, we pound away at the keyboard, we write and rewrite, but it is so important to continue to READ! Carve time out of your busy schedule and read as much as you possibly can. The other important piece of advice that I would convey is new authors need to make sure and do their research. For me personally, there is nothing more annoying than an author writing about a particular subject and giving inaccurate information. Unless you are writing “fantasy” and have the liberty of making up your own version of life, make it real. The audience has to believe that what you are saying could really happen!
Thanks for your time Ben!
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