I “met” Ben Starling on Goodreads, where we both share a love of books, and though I have not read his first novel-length work yet , I enjoyed his shorter work Something in the Air. He has a low-key, personable writing style with characters who feel very real, a talent I’m sure Something in the Water will demonstrate just as well. Come meet the man behind the pen in the interview below where he talks about what aspects of himself are revealed in his stories as well as other fun details. You can also discover his writing through the excerpt below and links to both the new release and his earlier short work.
First of all, tell us a little about yourself. You used to box. What’s the attraction? What’s it like?
Incredibly challenging—physically, mentally, technically. There’s no point taking up boxing if you expect every moment to be easy. The sport is all about looking deep inside yourself, accepting that great hurdles must be overcome and then doing your very best. The “worse” the experience, the greater the opportunity to learn from it, to grow. That’s what boxing is about and it’s no coincidence that a lot of troubled young men have turned their lives around, as a result of it. I’m not claiming to be troubled, though!
Are you a town or country person?
I’ve lived in both, but my heart is in the country. The best life is one surrounded by nature, I think. I used to live near a lake and spend evenings sitting there with my Great Dane beside me. It was my sacred space. I adore the ocean too, so vacation there when I can; I would like to live by it when I retire. Maybe on it: I’m thinking a stilt house (!) in the tropics or a boat.
Do the characters in your new novel share your passions?
Funnily enough, many of them do! The protagonist, Teal, in Something in the Water is a New York-based journalist who faces any number of life-defining choices. I lived in NYC for a few years as a small child, and visit when I can (I now live in London). I haven’t worked in journalism personally, but have friends who work in it, and I found it fascinating researching and constructing Teal’s world.
Teal accepts an assignment to the South Pacific where she meets a marine biologist, who is passionate about saving the oceans. He lives aboard a classic sailboat (I’d love to as well!) and has a flexible research schedule: no nine to five for him. I adore the tropics, and the health of the oceans is very important to me. I defy anyone who snorkels over a healthy coral reef not to fall in love with it and want to protect it!
Do you have a favorite character in the novel?
All characters have to be plausible, as they push the plot forward. I like there to be plenty of friction between them as well and to develop as the story unravels. What this all means is that, as the writer, I enjoy a character who achieves these objectives, even if s/he is utterly objectionable! And there’s certainly one person in Something in the Water who fits this description—and they were my favourite to write! But I also fell hopelessly in love with Teal, the heroine.
Tell me something few people know about Ben Starling.
I represented my university, Oxford, in boxing and punched a future prime minister on the nose!
Five years from now?
I’ll be staring at the ocean, watching a pod of dolphins swimming by and I’ll think to myself: Yes, the message, that the oceans are precious has been heard!
What can we look forward to next from you?
Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.
The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon) and the second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!
Something in the Water – available on Amazon http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am
Something in the Air –
- Available for FREE at ben-starling.com and
- Available FREE at Kobo http://bit.ly/SITAbtour2kobo .
- Also at Amazon http://bit.ly/SITAbtour2am
Something on the Fly – coming soon!
Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…
New York, September
He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.
He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?
As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?
No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?
What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.
“How on earth…?”
Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.
“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.
But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.
You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at http://ben-starling.com/chapter-one/
Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3″and 185 lbs. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.
Connect with Ben at www.ben-starling.com or through the links below: