By Pat Shea
When it comes to writing, Tim Bennett has been successfully honing his craft a long time. “I’ve been writing since I was 12,” stated Bennett in a recent interview, “So that makes 54 years this June.”
Bennett, who grew up in Carmel, New York, now lives in Syracuse with his wife of 33 years, and is a father of three, as well as a grandfather. A jack-of-all trades, Bennett balances writing with driving for Uber, working for a market research company, running a publishing company and maintaining a website which offers movie reviews and commentaries by Bennett.
Publishing and writing though, remain a constant thread in Bennett’s life, and through his self-publishing company, Sel Publications, he has published five books for local authors.
“I originally started Sel Publications to publish my own books, but decided later that I also wanted to help others become authors as well,” explained Bennett. “I provide editing, writing and printing services through my network of contacts in the industry.”
Bennett has published three of his own books, With a Grain of Salt, Salt for the Table, which are collections of Bennett’s articles and essays published in a variety of publications, and most recently, Runaways, a fictional novel. According to Bennett, Runaways, “…presents the gospel in a creative way using some of my own testimony and experiences overseas to primarily reach young people.”
Bennett has always had an interest in working with teens, and for many years worked as missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in France and throughout Europe.
Runaways has been a work in progress, according to Bennett, for approximately 20 years. “Writing a novel is like running a marathon,” stated Bennett. “I was used to doing short sprints as I only wrote personal essays. Often, I would get discouraged and put it aside for long periods of time. Yet, whenever I picked it up again, I truly believed it was a good story with likeable characters, so I finally told myself a few years ago that this was the year to finish it.”
Letting God Take the Lead
Despite the lengthy creative timeframe to form the novel, Bennett admits Runaways also had its challenges. “[The hardest challenge was] probably just getting it done,” stated Bennett. “The next challenge was making sure I was consistent with everything throughout. For example, if Ace was driving a black Eclipse in chapter one I better have the car black in chapter three. One thing I noticed was sometimes I changed a detail, but did not necessarily change it everywhere. Fortunately, there is a feature on the computer where you can replace all the words at the same time.”
Bennet also felt led during the creative process to “do what God wanted me to do” with the story. And according to Bennett, the end result was worth it.
“The most rewarding [joy] is hearing people say, ‘I really loved it,’” explained Bennett. “My goal is not to write solely for my own enjoyment, but for others. My constant prayer is that people will be touched by the Lord in some way through it.”
Runaways centers on a teen, Ace, who runs away to France when encountering a serious situation in his life. Ace not only runs away from his problems, but also from God, a scenario that Bennett understands all too well. In fact, Bennett explained the creation of Ace was loosely based on events within his own life.
“[I probably relate closest to Ace] the main character, since I also ran away from my hometown with my girlfriend and resisted God for many years like he does. I can’t say that I was as smart as [Ace] is, however,” laughed Bennett. “I also relate well [to the character] the reporter, and his struggles to succeed in his field.”
Although Bennett creates his characters from his personal story mixed with imagination, he also uses qualities, traits and memories of others he has known in life to fashion his characters.
“I knew a guy in high school who built computers and was very mature in terms of where he wanted to go. I talked with him recently and discovered he became a millionaire by solving engine problems for Ford Motor Company. I decided to make Ace more like him, rather than like me, since I wanted a semi-intelligent suspense novel, not a nerdy comedy. I also wanted adults to enjoy the book.”
Although Runaways is complete and on sale, Bennett admits he may not be ready to put Ace’s adventures on the shelf just yet.
“I’ve been thinking of another story with Ace where he works for a detective who helps parents find their children who have been kidnapped for human trafficking, but I will have to see how the first one goes. I also want to write my memoir—A Kid from Kelly Ridge and Other Characters. Who knows, maybe a book about being an Uber driver could be fun.”
Bennett encourages others interested in writing and getting published with this advice.
“Write and keep writing. If you are, indeed, a writer, you will always come back to it no matter how discouraged you become, because you are writer–not because you write. It flows from who you are.”
Runaways is available in paperback through Bennett’s site, www.moviesandmemoirs.org.