Today we're talking with T. Marie Benchley, author ofOnce Wicked Always Dead.
FQ: You appear to easily meld two seemingly opposing genres, romance and the psychological thriller in Once Wicked Always Dead. Tell us how you are able to accomplish this difficult task.
I don't develop my characters, I give birth to them. They are as real to me as you or I. They act and react amongst themselves while I record all the torrid details of their lives and just like some people's lives, theirs are filled with not only romance but scandal, sex, and betrayal. Besides all of that, if I only wrote a romance novel I would be bored to death. I enjoy getting a little down and dirty when I write. Shaking things up is much more fun for me as a writer and hopefully as well for the reader!
FQ: Molly Madison was an upper class Palma Cia Country Club diva, but her heart and soul belonged in the "Big Sky Country." Give us a brief glimpse into your psyche ... where do you feel you belong and why?
I would like to start off by saying that I have and do travel extensively. I am a firm believer that one's own life is meant to be lived and I certainly do my best at living mine to the fullest. I'm not one to just sit behind my desk pounding away at my computer all day and night; so with that being said I guess you could say that I am a chameleon. I melt into my surroundings; allowing each home or place that I visit to seep into my pores. I love bathing in its history and culture, as well as discovering the beauty of my surroundings and having a heck of a good time.
FQ: Your psychopath is so creepy, she would raise the hair on the back of anyone's neck. Statements such as "She just despised the perverts, the evil men who preyed upon the good and innocence of others; the evil types that she craved to rid from the world," will raise a few eyebrows. The character development of this villainous vigilante was amazing. What was your recipe for her? Did you pattern her after anyone we don't care to know?
I'm going to let everyone in on a little secret. I happened to have this neighbor(of course I will never disclose which one this is, as we must protect the innocence). One afternoon I was happily sitting in my writing room working on Once Wicked Always Dead, when this particular woman walked by our house wearing a superman tee shirt and began to laugh hysterically. Unfortunately for her, it was so loud and such a cackle, that I knew instantly that an evil sociopath was just born!
The superman tee shirt that she wore instantly gave me the idea to let this character view herself as a type of superhero. I began to think to myself what type of evil does she wish to rid the world of? That is when my mother instincts came into play. Evil men who prey on children! It was all downhill from there. Like I have always said "You never know where your next Idea will come from."
FQ: On another track, your dreamy cowboy, Clayton Leatherbe, was everything Molly ever seemed to want in a man. If you looked back at all the cowboys you've encountered in books and on the silver screen, who is your favorite and why?
That one is simple, it's my husband. I love the way he fills out his Wranglers and sorry girls he's taken, but lucky for you I am willing to let you all fantasize about his alter ego, Clayton Leatherbe!
FQ: Bozeman, Montana, the setting for mayhem and murder in your book, is a real live city that claims it is "The Most Liveable Place." Several people in your novel booked flights to the city for somewhat nefarious reasons. If any of your readers were to head to Bozeman for a vacation, where would they want to go and what would they do for enjoyment?
All of Montana is absolutely gorgeous country and with those massive blue skies that seem to reach out for eternity, I can certainly understand why they call it big sky country. You must fly in to Bozeman to get to Big Sky Montana and this is defiantly one of the places I would recommend for anyone who loves to ski. It is also close to Yellow Stone, which should be on everyone's bucket list! Seeley Lake and the Swan Valley is the place for us and the location we chose to build our log home. There is a chain of lakes, waterfalls, mountains, hiking, horseback riding, and rivers for rafting as well as fly fishing. Glacier National Park is less than a couple of hours away. The natural preservation of this wild land is breathtaking and the people are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. Montana is the one place where I can become one with nature while giving my mind a well deserved rest and allow my spirit to be renewed.
FQ: Obviously, you do have writing in your genes. Your cousin, Peter Benchley, was the author of the blockbuster Jaws. Once Wicked Always Dead is a stunning debut novel. Have you been practicing your craft for many years? Could you tell us about your passion for the written word?
Writing is as natural to me as sleeping and eating, and with over a hundred years of authors in my family. I definitely have had a long love affair with the written word. When I write I am able to go deep into my subconscious mind and lose myself and when I finish for the day, I feel as if I just awoke from a dream. I know it sounds strange, but I tend to go in a trance state or like a Buddha monk who meditates. Although I did write a lot when I was younger, I put it on the back burner until I was a little more seasoned with life. Having a husband, children and traveling gave me more to write about. My children are now grown and have moved on to follow their own dreams and are working within the entertainment industry. I now have the time to write my novels and will be producing one book a year for many years to come. In other words, I am here to stay, so buckle up and hang on to your hats. It's going to be a hell of a ride!
FQ: When you get a chance to browse the shelves of a bookstore, just what types of books do you find yourself taking a look at when no one is looking at you? No fibbing please ... someone might have been peering over your shoulder!
Honestly it depends on my mood. I generally have three novels on my night stand at all times! I get bored easily so I am constantly switching them up. Last book I bought and just finished reading, was Newt Gingrich Saving America. I love him and it was a great book, but I do have Jackie Collins Poor Little Bitch Girl which has been sitting right next to Newt's novel keeping it company and calling out to me "I'm next; I'm next, read me!"
FQ: Now let's just say you had Clayton over for dinner. He might like pork 'n beans with a side of dodgers, but what kind of meal would you try to impress him with? Gourmet? Homemade? Exotic?
Oh Clayton is so much more than just a beans and frank kind of guy! I would prepare Clayton Leatherbe, seared Pheasant Breast, with a tantalizing port cherry sauce that is lightly drizzled over the top, wild long grain rice and a nice bottle of Syrah. Clayton just loves his breast meat a little wild, taming it only slightly when you put it atop of an open flame! He usually has such a ravenous appetite when it comes to the main course, that there is very little room left in those jeans for desert, but when he does, he enjoys something very sweet.
FQ: The dedication in your book was beautiful and heartwarming. You briefly mentioned that your parents gave you your "gift of humor." Tell us about this gift and how you have incorporated it into your life?
I have been so blessed to have such a fun and loving family. I think it's a definite marker in the Benchley gene pool. No one ever takes themselves too seriously and laughter is a huge part of our daily lives. We just love hanging out together. I can happily say that I am a product of my environment, as well as my children.
FQ: You claim that you enjoy listening to other people's stories. Have you heard any that have made you want to tap away on your keyboard and develop into a new book? Are you tapping away on another one right now?
I am not just tapping; I am pounding away at my keyboard! I am so excited about my next book! The title is Mother Can't Be Trusted. It is once again a mystery, romance, thriller. I have taken actual events and happenings of individuals and created a fictional story! I don't want to give away any of the details yet, but I can tell you that the story begins in the Nevada Desert. It's a fast paced page turner,that will take your breath away!