From an early age, Benjamin H. Hebert loved the process of creating stories, letting his ideas take shape as he filled a page with words and getting lost in magical worlds sprung forth from his imagination. At the age of 23, though, following the death of his grandfather, Hebert turned to writing as a way to ease the pain, and in the process, he realized that writing was what he truly wanted to do.
In November of 2013, Hebert published his first novel, Stopping the Fat Guy (Memoirs of a True Hero), which tells the tale of a legendary crime fighter’s encounters with Santa Claus.
Readers can learn more about Hebert and his writing at his website, bnjmnhebert.wordpress.com.
My family has always been close, but I spent a lot of time with my cousins during my childhood, and many of my most nostalgic memories involve them. The ones I’d spend the most time with were Corey and Alex; they’re brothers. We’d hang out almost everyday during the summer together as their grandfather, my uncle, lived next door to my parents, who lived next door to my grandfather. We’d play a lot of video games like Mario Kart 64 or Goldeneye or Halo until we were kicked outside to play, which is when the real fun began — anything from filming our own horror movie, “The Family” (although we haven’t been able to find the tape unfortunately), to blowing up whatever we could find with little bird bombs, to war games. Those were my favorite times.
I think one of the funniest memories was when we had this tree swing, which was essentially a 2×4 tied to a tree branch, and we wound it up really tight while one of us was on it and let it spin-typical kid stuff. So one day, Corey was on it while Alex and I wound it as tight as we could, but as soon as he started to spin, Corey fell off and his foot got caught in the loose rope. Watching him spin around uncontrollably by his ankle was both one of the scariest and hilarious moments of our childhood.
What role did your grandfather play in shaping who you are today?
I spent a lot of time with my grandfather growing up. We were best buds. If he went anywhere I was sure to be tagging along. Growing up, I practically lived at his house. Not that home was bad or anything, I just always wanted to be with him.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I really enjoy discovering my characters and escaping into my own little world. When I write, I get lost in the world flowing out of my fingertips. I go into a trance of sorts, and the initial pre-editing free-flow writing just happens. I have little control over my characters, and I love them for that. When writing a Quincy and Klyde adventure, it just happens — it’s organic. Quincy acts exactly the way he would and I find it hilarious. When I have a free moment, I’ll just start typing in Quincy’s voice and the next thing I know I’m hearing first hand of his first Werewolf hunt with his grandfather, Rusty Russell. It’s like I get early access to a great story.
What challenges did you face in expanding Stopping the Fat Guy from a short story into a novel?
Length was the biggest challenge. It’s something I often struggle with. I tend to be concise, which can be good at times I suppose, but definitely proves to be a challenge when you’re trying to create a novel. I think the issue with StFG was the span of time during which the story took place, which was only one day. Also, it was my first book, so it was a very challenging learning experience. The second one takes place over a week, and the third a month — I’m hoping that helps.
What other authors have inspired you over the course of your life?
I’ve actually never been a huge reader. Which is strange, but I’m working on it. Brandon Sanderson is my biggest inspiration right now. His works are great and he has a really good writing course. I think he does a great job helping young writers understand the business and what it takes to make it a career. I think Michael J. Sullivan is a great resource to beginners as well; he has provided invaluable guides to help other indie authors get on the right track. Without either of them, I wouldn’t have made it this far. As far as writing style goes, I read this book while I was younger called There’s a Porcupine in My Outhouse by Michael Tougias. I loved his style and I think a bit of it has always stuck with me. Oh, and I think Douglas Adams also helped reassure me that silly books can hold their own in the world.
What are the three best superhero movies of all time?
This is a great question, and the answer is always changing, what with the new ones coming out being so good. I believe you have to look at each film as an individual to get a real feel for it, so my answers are, in no particular order: The Dark Knight, Winter Soldier (it made Captain America, that seemingly lame, old comic book hero cool, and it gets bonus points for a badass Falcon), and The Avengers (it’s proof of how much can be done in a movie and still work, plus you get all your favorite heroes smashing aliens).
What’s the best slice of pizza you had recently?
Easy question: Portland Pie Co., Aroostook County.
What would you like to do that you simply haven’t found the time for yet?
What don’t I want to do? I want to weave stories for everything: movies, TV, video games, comics, even a play. I’ve also always wanted to make a board game. Oh, and design an amusement park, like a section of Disney World (Queen City maybe? I can dream right?).
What would it take for you to call your writing career a success?
If I get to the point where it’s my main source of income and if I’m doing other work it’s because I want to and not have to.
What are you working on next?
Next up is Memoirs of a True Hero Volume 2: Tricky Turkey Tango, which is currently undergoing beta reading (and I’m looking for more people to give me feedback if anyone’s interested), Volume 3: Zounds of Zombies, which is in the first editing phase, and I’m just starting to write an untitled steampunk-y mad scientist project, which I’m very excited about, but for which, unlike Quincy, it’s taken me quite a few attempts to get the style right.