Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Interview with short story writer Bentley Wells

I’m welcoming back Bentley Wells today with a new focus – his short story collection, The Question and Other Stories.

His June 2017 interview about The Paradise Coven is here.

Bentley Wells has written a few short stories that have been published in literary magazines and The Paradise Coven, a mystery that was published by Black Opal Books in 2017. The Question and Other Stories is published by Black Opal Books as well.

Welcome back, Bentley. What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I believe it is the attempt to depict authentic characters in a realistic situation or situations in fewer words than typically found in a novelette or novel. Of course, an author doesn’t necessarily include as many characters or situations in a short story as in a novelette or novel. Still, a short story―like a novelette or novel―should have a logical conclusion.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
The title story, which was published in a literary magazine before it was revised and published in this collection, is a slice of life and depicts a young man in college who has seen the campus queen and wonders what it is like to date someone like her. He expresses as much to his roommates who are playing cards. They tease him about asking her out on a date, which he does, and she accepts. Another story, which is longer, concerns a veteran of Vietnam who encourages a young woman enrolled in college to leave campus to go with him across the country. The young woman doesn’t realize the veteran will do almost anything to get attention until it is too late. Another story concerns a president of a small town bank who enjoys reading ads in a local publication’s personals column. Although he has never responded to any of the ads, he decides to respond to one that has caught his attention. A week or two later the woman responds. He responds. With each letter, the two learn about the other. Eventually, she agrees to meet him by having him come to her home. She has cooked a wonderful dinner. However, as the evening passes, he realizes the woman is not like his late wife. The woman realizes that he is not the man for her.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
My first novel―The Paradise Coven―was a mystery. This book is a collection of short stories. Only two or three of the stories are mysteries, however. Other stories in the collection are examples of romance, humor, etc. I am working on another mystery, but it doesn’t feature the same detectives as the first. So, to make a long story short, I would say that I enjoy writing mysteries or suspense. I suppose I enjoy writing in this genre because I enjoy reading mysteries and suspense by other writers. Mysteries allow authors to pit bad people against good people. Mysteries also allow authors to provide justice to those characters who deserve it. And this justice can be swift or drawn out.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am writing a mystery set in a fictitious town in Oklahoma. After earning a graduate degree in business, Frank Williams returns home in time to attend his father’s funeral. James Williams was a successful businessman and pillar of the community. He was revered by those who knew him, but someone killed him. The authorities have few clues and no suspects. Frank investigates. Eventually, he uncovers evidence that leads to the governor’s office. Unfortunately, the evidence also reveals his father’s unscrupulous activities. If the evidence is presented during the trial, Frank realizes his father’s reputation will be tarnished. Yet, he can’t allow those responsible to remain free―can he?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer―at least, a professional writer to a certain extent―when I received my first royalty check. This was for a book of nonfiction. (I have written several books of nonfiction over the years. I enjoy researching and writing nonfiction, especially brief biographies and history.)

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I do most of my research on my computer. For instance, if I’m looking for publishers of mysteries, I will type “publishers of mysteries” or something to this effect. In addition, I will consult Writer’s Market and/or Literary Marketplace.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t believe I have any interesting writing quirks. At least, I can’t think of any.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That was many years ago. However, I know I wanted to write―or have a career that included some writing―when I was in high school.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I believe readers will enjoy The Question and Other Stories.

Thanks for chatting with me today!

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