Amy L. Benevento


Imagine a paradise gone wrong


How did your book come to life?

My story was already alive before I wrote it.

The characters have been playing in my head for years.  They were alive.  It was  like I had to write the story to give them a life outside of my head.

Who is you favorite character

in your book and why?

Actually, I have two favorite characters.  One is Evan.  He’s hated by several people on the island.  When things go wrong and the 21 employees find themselves stranded on the island, Evan is blamed.  Evan is complex.  He’s brilliant with an IQ in the 140’s.  He’s world renowned in the science culture.  He’s written many texts that have been translated in several languages and thousands of copies are sold throughout the world.  He’s mostly calm and controlled, but he has a temper.  He shoves a knife through Grady’s hand, and he killed a cat in his youth, but he risks everything to save the people on the island.  Or so it seems.  The end reveals the truth.

Kane is also my favorite character, and also the favorite character by many readers.  He is the wisdom behind the writing, the spiritual voice.  He is freakishly tall and is often chopping wood.  He’s a man of few words.  He never makes it off the island.  What happens to him in the end is up to interpretation, but it’s pretty much spelled out.

Are the characters in your books based on people you know?

No.  Situations are from my past, but not the characters, ironically.  Except for Pauline, a minor character.  She’s mother-hen to Evan, who heads the research group.  I knew a “mother-hen” in collage, and I based Pauline on her.

The characters are more symbolic than based on people I know.  Tom represents democracy.  Jeremy represents our influential youth.  Adrian represents our military, or protection and security within a society.  Evan represents the intellectual class.  Etc.

Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?

I’ve heard feedback from over 30 people who have read the book, and pretty much all of them say that it’s been a page-turner.  It’s action-packed.  Also, there’s strong character development.

How long did it take you to write your book?

One year and one month.  I started with a vague outline.  Throughout the whole process of writing, I kept adding details to the outline, and editing it, switching things around.

How do you start writing a new book?

What comes first? The characters or the story?

There’s no right or wrong here.  For me, the characters exist first, and I create a story around them.  I knew these characters years before I started writing about them.  I’ve “played” with them in my head for hears, giving them different scenarios and different story lines.  But there’s something intriguing to me about people isolated on an island.  I can’t say exactly what it is.  I wanted to create a mini-society.

Do you like to write series?  Or single titles only?

This is my first novel.  I’ve published before, but it was non-fiction.

I think I want to write a series only because I miss the characters terribly, and want them to live on.  The thing is, I ended the story completely, wrapping everything up in a tight ribbon.  I only left one character open-ended.  Everything else just… well… ended.

I was thinking on doing something that has never been done before, I don’t think.  I don’t know if this is too revolutionary (or too weird).  I was thinking on creating a whole new story-line, but using the same characters.  Then, my third novel will be even another story-line completely, but once again with the same characters.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

On Amazon. 

I am in the process of e-publishing the book, so it will be available on Kindle in February 2013, unless I hit any unusual bumps.


Where do you find your ideas?  Do you carry a notebook?

Most of my ideas come to my while I’m driving or in the shower.  It’s hard to write them down while driving or showering.  I often write on my hand.  All ideas get put in my outline, which was growing and being edited just about daily.

Have you always considered yourself a writer?  Have you always written?

I have always known I was a writer, tho I never wrote an autobiography.  When I was a little kid, I used to write “books” on scrap paper, using crayon, and I’d staple them together.  I would then tape another little scrap of paper on the back of these “books”, and I’d insert a library card in case anyone would ever want to check a book out.  No one ever did, ha!

Why do you write?

I have to write.  Writing a story has been nagging at me for decades.  I felt like if I died without writing a story, I’d be doing a disservice to myself.

What is your writing process?

Once I started, I wrote every day.  I really did.  It wasn’t because I am super disciplined, or felt I had to.  I wanted to.  Writing was FUN!  I fought for time to write.  Cleaning house, socializing, and doing paperwork all became items on a back burner.

Every day before work, sometimes during lunch, and a lot late at night, I would sit down with my computer and re-read the 5 or so pages I’d written the day prior, or the morning prior.  I’d re-work the words and edit.  Then I would write about 5 more pages.  Sometimes I was rather stuck and would only write about 2 pages… sometimes I’d struggle for a day or two on a paragraph.  Sometimes (rarely), I’d push out 10 to 15 pages in one sitting.  I’d often be at it until two in the morning.  My husband can testify to this.

How did you describe a scene?

I had to describe a barn with a mountain in the background.  I image-googled, and literally spent a couple of hours until I found a photo that matched that what was in my head.  I would look at the photo, then write.  The photo helped me.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

An author has MUCH more control with self-publishing than with traditional publishing.

With traditional publishing, the publishing company often “owns” the writer.

They may say “Change the title”  or  “Cut out 50 pages”  or  “omit this character”,  etc.

Traditional Publishing = an automatic car

Self-Publishing = stick shift

Would you consider converting your book into a screenplay?

Yes.  Actually, I’m in the process of doing this.  I understand that I have to tell my story in about 90 pages, which will mean cutting out a LOT.  Ouch.

What are your strengths as a writer?

Dialogue & character development.  My weakness, pacing.


How many books in a month do you read?

I read one book a month.  I have to; I run a Book Club, ha!

If I wasn’t working, I’d read one book a week.  I love to read!

What is the best book you've read?

Can I list 3?

–The Kite Runner

–To Kill a Mockingbird

–The Outsiders

State 5 random facts about yourself.

–When I was 7, I was the crocodile in the play Peter Pan.  I crawled around on the floor.

–I play tin whistle

–When I was 13, I beat a teacher in chess.

–I worked in New York City next to Grand Central in my young twenties.

–I absolutely love toads.  They’re so goofy and lovable.

One more:

As kids, we would bike down a bumpy hill in the woods, be airborne, then land in the small lake.

Do you have a pipe dream?

Yes.  Owning a hundred acres, building cabins, hiring people to live there to take care of stray dogs.  I would have a doctor live there and pay him well, a mini store, a little school house, theater...

In all the books you've read, who is your most favorite character and why?

Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.  By far.  He combines gentleness with inner strength, a combination you rarely see in a man.  Many men are gentle, and many men are strong, but few are both.

Were you a good student?  Or were you “bad boy” or “bad girl?”

I was both.  I graduated High School with honors, and I graduated college earning Magna Cum Laude.  However, I did my share of pranks.  I set the clocks back in 9th grade English class so we could get out of class earlier.  I painted the dorm bulbs red in the staircases for artistic effect.  I put notices under dorm doors saying we’d get an extra week of spring break, using the college administration stationery.

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