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So, as part of the Buccaneer Blogfest, I was supposed to interview the person below me on the sign-up list. Let’s give a welcome to Ben of Story Multiverse. He chatted with me about communication, writing essentials and being a good pet servant. Check it out and then scroll down for some music to end the work week:

1) You mentioned in your own post for the blogfest that you are getting a degree in communication studies with a focus on interpersonal conflict. How would you say that’s influenced you as a writer? According to recent studies applying Politeness Theory (Brown & Levinson, 1987) to . . . nah, I’m just kidding. Seriously, though, I would say that studying communication has influenced me in a number of ways. For starters, it requires a very different part of my brain than writing fiction. When I write academic papers, my language has to be very careful, objective, and precise. I can’t overstate anything or run the risk of severe backlash. My fiction writing, on the other hand, is very creative, especially things like my weekly paranormal fiction series The Chain, where I don’t plan out entries at all before I sit down to actually write them.

The other aspect of my writing that Communication Studies has influenced is my approach to dialogue. If there’s one thing you learn by studying communication, it’s that it’s a miracle that we are ever able to figure out what anybody else is saying. We talk over each other, correct ourselves, argue about turn-taking, misspeak, and leave things unspoken almost constantly. So when writing, I try to give it a more natural feel in terms of reflecting the vagaries and imperfections of speech.
 
2) You started blogging last year; can you tell us a bit about why you decided to blog? The first manuscript I ever wrote went “kablooey,” to borrow from a bit of Calvin & Hobbes lexicon. It was bad. Well, it is still bad, but I prefer to think of it in the past tense. I did some soul-searching afterward, and one of the conclusions that I came to was that I needed a larger online presence, especially if it turned out that the traditional path to publishing wasn’t in the cards. If you want to be a successful self-published author, you need to establish a readership. So that’s part of why I started this blog.
The other part of it is that I love writing. I truly enjoy sitting down to try to organize my haphazard thoughts into a readable format. I like seeing what other people think about the things I’ve written, whether they’re short stories, thoughts about the process of writing, or my thoughts about the work of other writers.

3) What has been your biggest challenge over this past year as far as your blog goes? What’s been the biggest surprise? Probably keeping up with my weekly entries in The Chain. Even after six months, I feel like Friday jumps out at me from behind a bush every time, saying: “TIME TO WRITE, BENJAMIN! HAHAHAHA!” and then punches me in the face with a deadline.

The biggest surprise has been that anyone actually enjoys reading my work– like most authors, I am often wracked by self-doubt with regard to my writing ability, so it’s been a great and unexpected pleasure to see people commenting positively. 
 
4) What was your NaNo experience like last year? Intense. I was busy enough as it was trying to get my dissertation research approved (there’s all sorts of hoops to jump through when you want to conduct a survey), let alone trying to crank out 1600+ words a day of fiction. But it was overall a growing experience for me as a writer. I hadn’t really had to push myself for a deadline (although admittedly a voluntary one) like that when it came to fiction. I was no stranger to the late-night paper blitz, though, so I found myself drawing on the various tricks and mental shortcuts that I used then to get the work done. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. As a result, though, I made significant progress on my current WIP, so for that alone I’m thankful.
 
5) Do you have any writing session essentials? (Music, a certain place to sit, etc…) Music, definitely. I’m the kind of person that uses music as white noise to block out distractions. I also find that music can help me get into a rhythm. My thoughts will start flowing as I get into the groove, but that means that I listen to a lot of very up-tempo instrumental music (electronica has been especially helpful lately). As far as place goes, I can write anywhere, as long as it’s relatively quiet. 
 
6) You mentioned owning a cat. Tell us a bit about him/her and what you’ve learned about being a good pet servant. Yes, Skittles is pretty clear about where I stand in the household hierarchy, namely: the very bottom. She’s a bit chubby (but has lost a lot of weight since we adopted her), loves sleeping in odd places, and is extremely insistent when it comes to being fed, whether that’s at 5pm or 5am. 
 
7) E-book or Print? For publication? I’m happy with both. I think that the more ways you can get your story out there, the better.

As a reader? Print, all the way. I love the weight, the heft of print books, the smell of ink and paper, the sound of your fingers buzzing along the corners of pages as you flip to where you last left off.
 
8) Must-see show: Stein’s Gate. A real mindbender of an anime with time-travel, global conspiracies, beautiful artwork, great voice acting, and compelling characters.
 
9) Do you write by hand first or just type? I prefer to type. My handwriting is terrible and I type a lot faster than I write. That said, I’ll still jot notes down on random pieces of paper, napkins, my arm, the walls. The muse tends to find me at the least opportune moments. 
 
10) If you could chat with any character, who would it be? Any character? Well, I’d probably choose Agatha Heterodyne, the female protagonist of Girl Genius, the gaslamp fantasy webcomic by Phil and Kaja Foglio. She could help me build all sorts of devices to facilitate my evil plot to take over the world. The world, I say! Muahahahaha!

Seriously though. It’s a really neat webcomic. Give it a try!

So I posted a quote from this one my facebook because this has become one of my favorite songs off her latest album. It’s called “He Won’t Miss Me” and I’ll be working on a review of the whole CD at some point today. I hope you enjoy:

So have anything you want to ask Ben yourself? What do you think of this track? Comment and let’s chat about it…

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