Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Dorothy Rice Bennett. I am an active and inspired 75. I’ve learned that the secret to surviving “the golden years” is to involve yourself in something you love.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, Speedway, Indiana, home of the Indy 500 Auto Race. Currently living in Sequim, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula with my partner and two poodles.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Only child. Earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in drama in California and completed a Ph.D. in theatre at Tulane University in New Orleans when I was 26. Later earned a second master’s in counselling at ASU. Served briefly in the Army Reserves. Had two careers: mental health and journalism. Married once, a mistake since I was unconsciously a lesbian. Divorced and later adopted an emotionally-disturbed child as a single parent. My daughter had therapy during her childhood and as an adult has been happily married more than 25-years and has four children. She came to live with me when she was nine and will be 50 this summer. After I realized I was a lesbian, I had a long on-again, off-again relationship with a woman in Arizona. Moved from Phoenix to San Diego in 1989 and shortly afterward met my real “life” partner. She died in 2010 here in Sequim. I am now with a new partner since 2013.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Busy marketing THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE. Constantly on Facebook and Twitter, looking for new followers. Paying off bills. Waiting for a chance to travel back to San Diego and Phoenix to see friends and my family. Working on fourth novel, to be set in Sequim and with working title of LOVE IN THE OLYMPICS: A Woman Woman Romance.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Back in Speedway, in the fifth grade, I filled notebooks with stories and passed them around to the other students in the class. They read them and asked me to write more, so I did. My stories featured women doing things that at that time women didn’t do: race horses, fly military jets, pilot hydroplane boats, and drive race cars. Little did I dream as a child that someday women would be allowed to do those verythings.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I put together my first novella when I was about 15. I mimeographed it, assembled it, and sold it to friends for 50 cents. It was called “ANNA BE ACCEPTED.” I think I always knew I wanted to write novels but I just didn’t find the time or focus to approach it seriously until I retired. I was always working two jobs, building relationships, loving dogs and traveling.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I had started several novels in the 1980s, but I actually finished my first manuscript in 1994. An idea had occurred to me, out of the blue, and I sat down and started writing. I finished the novel in three weeks and then put it in a drawer. I showed it to one friend, and she told me I should do something with it. But I didn’t know how, at that time. Ultimately, it became my third published book, THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
That’s a good question. Unfortunately, I no longer know. I was working as an assistant manager in a movie theatre in San Diego, and maybe something from a film made an impression. But the origin is gone now. I just know that my title was written more than twenty years ago—long before the popular book ARTEMISby Andy Weir that came out in 2017.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’ve been told that I am a visual writer. I flesh out enough details that you can see and feel what is happening. I also have supporting characters with interesting lives of their own. Therefore my heroines live in what seems like a real world. In THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE, I have family members, college administrators, a chaplain, an economics professor, a pizza shop owner, and a woman long-haul truck driver. Some of these characters are lesbians—some openly so and some not.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I went to college at seventeen without graduating from high school. I attended Mills College in Oakland, California. In THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE, Kiki Rodriguez, having completed her junior year in high school, crosses the country from New York and ends up on the campus of Montrose College in California. The Montrose campus was inspired by my four years at Mills, which I loved very much. Using Mills landscape and memories helps build a realistic environment in which Kiki’s story can unfold. Otherwise, Kiki and I are very different.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have set my novels in places where I have lived or at least visited, because I can feel the setting and think of logical things a character might do in that place. Because I was educatedin Oakland, California, the San Francisco Bay Area appears in all of my novels. My next one, however, is set in Sequim, Washington, where I now live. It will involve various aspects of the Olympic Peninsula.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover for NORTH COAST: A Contemporary Love Story was a picture I had taken during a road trip to Northern California from San Diego, where I lived at the time. The GIRLS ON THE RUNcover picture came from a file the publisher (Outskirts Press) had of road pictures. THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE cover was created by a graphic designer, Katie Cody, whom I found on the Internet.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Never give up your dreams. If you believe you can do something, you can. If you need help, and you are open minded, you will find the support you need. And along the way, you will find love and commitment.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Most of the lesbian writers that I read started publishing before me; I’m sure eventually I’ll encounter some first-timers. Other than lesbian romances, I read a lot of mystery/thriller books. I loved Sue Grafton and was sad that she died of cancer before completing the last book of her ABC series featuring Kinsey Milhone. I really enjoyJA Jance, who has a series featuring a Seattle detective, JP Beaumont, who is delightful because he has human frailties. He always solves the crime, but he is very charming along the way. Among current lesbian authors, I really enjoy Tracey Richardson, Emma Nichols, and Georgia Beers. All of them are mature writers, and they flesh out their characters and put them in detailed settings. When it’s not JUST about passion, and instead the characters have rich inner lives, I am happier and more at home with the story.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Members of my Religious Science church in Sequim, including the minister. It’s a small church, but many of the attendees have bought copies of my books. Some of these folks are gay, but many are not. I’ve learned that my stories have a broader appeal than I realized.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Whether I make any money—first goal being to recover expenses of publishing—this is what I do all day long. It is a full-time job. It is certainly my current career!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
One the whole I am very happy with THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE. I’m sure every writer can think of a scene that could have been added but they didn’t think of it earlier. However, I love my lead character, Kiki Rodriguez, who has dreams and the courage to follow them. She’s a very strong young woman, yet vulnerable and human.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I found that I can write humorous scenes as well as touching ones. I hadn’t quite realized that aspect of my writing before. I also learned from my editor that there are a few words that I use too often. I learned how to edit them out and improve the smoothness of my word flow. That was a biggie for me!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Kiki Rodriguez is a Heinz-57 mix of American immigrant descent: Polish, Filipino, and Puerto Rican. She is eighteen. I would dream of someone like Felicity Jones of ROGUE ONE, yet Felicity is British and perhaps in that sense not right for the part. But certainly someone though young is bold and brave, like the character that Felicity created.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Follow your dreams. Write what comes into your head and your heart. Put it down without judgment. Later, you can return to edit and polish. But what you have to share with the world is what is inside you. Don’t shut down on your ideas; they are you.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you are a mature lesbian, you’ll feel right at home with my books. If you are a young lesbian, you may have to be a bit patient at first, because my characters don’t jump right into bed. If you give my writing a chance, you’ll find my heroines and their supporting characters engaging. (Once the heroines get it together, they will end up in bed, not to worry.) Readers say they “see” the setting and the characters and feel they could sit down and have coffee with them. If I am truly visual, it’s probably because I started seeing movies at the age of three and hung out at a movie theatre around the corner from my house until I went to college. Life was as much about pictures as words for me, even though I often did read six or seven books a week.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
DARE TO STAY by Georgia Beers
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES, I would suspect. My parents also bought me recordings of children’s stories, like MANY MOONS and MIKE, THE TOUGH LITTLE TUG BOAT.I remember those very clearly and listened to them in bed at night before falling asleep.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
What most touches me are expressions of love. When human beings and also animals reach out to each other and show their feelings, that actiongoes straight to my heart. Animals also make me laugh; they do such cute and crazy things. They always forgive my failings and always want to cuddle.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Ellen DeGeneres. She took such great risks in being honest about her sexuality at a time when most LGBT folks were still in the closet. It nearly cost her career, but in the long run she came out a winner and is adored by millions. I would just like to thank her for the gift she gave to the rest of us.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Aside from writing, I love movies and books. I also love walking my dogs daily. I enjoy travel and photographing natural settings, especially in the Pacific Northwest, which is so incredibly beautiful.In Sequim, we have the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Canada to the north.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I was a fan of THE L-WORD from the first episode. On regular TV, I still follow CBS’s SURVIVOR after seventeen years. I mostly watch movies, because I’ve been a movie buff since I was a child. WONDER WOMAN was great. I loved CAROL, GRANDMA, and THE DANISH GIRL. Lots of good Oscar nominees this year!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Chocolate, especially dark, in any food creation. Blue has always been my color, to go with my blue eyes. Music for me has always included Broadway musicals. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, shows like SOUND OF MUSIC, SOUTH PACIFIC, LES MIZ, and WICKED. Strong characters and music that touch and make you feel good.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Walk my dogs, be outside more, travel when possible, read many books, watch more movies!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She wanted to create, and she did!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
NORTH COAST: A Contemporary Love Story
THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE
(at Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_21?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+artemis+adventure+by+dorothy+rice+bennett&sprefix=The+Artemis+Adventure%2Caps%2C223&crid=1HIGTLEN1VMZ1
Amazon Author’s Page