Interview With Author Chris Benjamin

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Chris Benjamin and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’m the author of a novel called Drive-by Saviours, a short story collection called Boy With A Problem, and two nonfiction books: Indian School Road and Eco-Innovators.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

The only reviews I’ve seen that I would characterize strictly as negative are on goodreads. They put me in a bad mood and I whine about them to my wife, who says supportive things like, “It must be hard to put your soul into something and have someone dismiss it with so little effort.” Once she showed me some books that scored high on goodreads. I won’t dismiss them; I’ll just say they weren’t the sort of things I’d write. Which is one way to deal with bad reviews. I write what I write. I craft it with great care and consideration. I improve with experience. I hope readers appreciate not only the effort, but the result. Another good reminder of that is to read the positive reviews and emails from people who were moved, or learned, or changed their point of view, based on what I wrote.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I’m not sure it’s an improvement but having children changed the way I work, compressed all my work into a much tighter space and schedule. From a 40 hour work week I have to carve out work that pays and work that charges my batteries, which is the creative kind. I’ve learned to be more efficient in my creativity. It can still take me years to perfect a story, but the progress is more consistent rather than coming in over-caffeinated binges.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The hardest, best and most surprising thing to happen to me as a writer has been meeting survivors of Indian residential school after Indian School Road was published, and having them share their stories with me. It is a tremendous gift for which I will be eternally grateful.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Personal satisfaction. I’m very selfish that way. But also, if I’m not satisfied with my work, how can I expect anyone else to be satisfied with it?

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I’m weirdly obsessed with basketball statistics. I’m not a statistician myself and the math is beyond me, but I love how the numbers first reveal things we don’t notice watching the games, then change the way the game is played and coached.

I was travelling while working on my novel, Drive-by Saviours, and wrote bits of it in Canada, Finland, Estonia, Russian, Mongolia, Japan, and Ghana.

I like to do rap at karaoke. Rapping is hard and I’m bad at it.

I still have all my old mix tapes but nothing to play them on. I’m hoping tapes come back after the apocalypse.

I edit a magazine but am a terrible speller. I’m constantly looking up words.

I am the worst golfer in the world. A lot of people claim this, but if there was a tournament I would win/lose.

My wife used to call me the baby whisperer. I was remarkably good at getting the kids to sleep when they were babies.

When in a new city I have a tendency to make up songs using local signage. I’m not sure whether it helps me make sense of the place or not, but it’s fun.



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