Interview with Author Philip Bencel

Check out my latest #authorinterview with Philip Bencel, author of Freedom City, a dystopian novel set in a world way too similar to our own… #interview #bookblog

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a private investigator in Washington, D.C. for almost twenty years. I’ve written stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t publish my first books until I was in my mid-thirties: Introduction to Conducting Private Investigations and Principles of Investigative Documentation. I returned to writing fiction last year, when I took a sabbatical from my investigations company to write a novel.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The book I aspired to write last year was called Order of Damaged Souls, set around the 14th century Flemish peasant revolt. I finished that book, but I ultimately decided it was too dark for mainstream consumption. While bemoaning all the time that I “wasted” on Damaged Souls, I had an epiphany about just how demoralized I was about the American disaster marked by Donald Trump’s presidency. This soul-searching led me to re-read The Monkey Wrench Gang, a campy novel written by Edward Abbey about a band of misfits who sabotage stuff to protect the environment. I thought, ‘I should write something like that, but set in post-Trump America!’ Thus inspired, I wrote Freedom City in about three months, rushing to get it out before Trump’s impeachment. [Laughter].

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t know if I can curse on your blog—but fucking hell, what we’re living through right now is the resurgence of fascism, plain and simple. I know the left is often too loose with the word ‘fascist,’ and that’s regrettable, but there is nothing else to call attacks on the press, on the judiciary, and outright distain for the rule of law by the so-called President of the United States. So, Freedom City is a serious book about a very serious topic, but I really tried to bring it down to a level where I’m not just screaming incoherently out the window. The thing is that, when you take a deep breath, Trump and his enablers are evil in an almost inept-comic-book-villain sort of way, so there is actually a lot to laugh about in the situation. The one thing I hope people get from my book is that we must kill them with laughter. That’s their biggest weakness, which is why the right has been so up in arms the past few days about Michelle Wolf’s scathing comedy routine at the WHCD.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Well, my first novel was historical fiction, which is what I often like to read. Freedom City, I suppose, is contemporary literary fiction, but I’ve really struggled with whether to call it satire or dystopian fiction. It’s a little of both, actually, more like a tragicomedy. Like I said, I didn’t really set out to write it, but as a longtime private detective who lives in D.C.—I can literally see the fucking U.S. Capitol out of my window—I was probably the person best situated to write a novel like Freedom City.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I admit that I struggled a bit with Clare Swan, the main female protagonist. Some female readers have pointed out her promiscuity, and that’s certainly a fair critique. But while my book might not pass the Bechdel test, nobody (so far) has accused me of being anti-feminist. Actually, I’m a diehard feminist. It’s just that I have an active imagination, so when I write female characters I sometimes imagine ways I might sleep with them. [Laugher]. Ultimately, I think Clare turned out to be a delightfully complex human being and a righteous warrior. But if I could talk to her I’d ask if she feels I did her justice.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

That’s a great question. I had already developed this public persona as a private investigator, and by far the biggest platforms for that are LinkedIn and Twitter. Because of that professional following I already had from my non-fiction books, I’ve gotten the most traction so far from those sites. However, I’m super excited about Instagram—which I confess I wasn’t even on until a few months ago. As I’m someone who loves readings and events, it really gives me a chance to chronicle the “buzz” around my book and hopefully help it, one day, take off.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

So much of the advice aspiring writers get is to clichéd. I mean, I could say ‘don’t be afraid to suck’ or ‘join a writing group’—both sage pieces of advice—but instead I’ll say this: Write about the things buried deep in your soul that you think might scare your friends to know about you. Just do it. They won’t scare, and you’ll be writing honest shit.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ve got a couple irons in the fire, including a continuation (sort of) of Freedom City. Lately, however, I’m back to doing investigations, so I don’t have all the time to write I had last year. That’s okay though, because now that I recognize impeachment isn’t happening anytime soon I can take the time to make the next book longer and even more snarky.

 

freedom

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Freedom City by Philip A. Becnel IV Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A near future that could easily mirror our own world comes to visceral life in author Philip A. Becnel IV’s Freedom City. Here’s the synopsis:

FREEDOM CITY hilariously ridicules the current kakistocracy (government run by the worst people) in a gripping satire that pays homage to The Monkey Wrench Gang. 

After President Trump unceremoniously dies from natural causes, four misfits from Washington, D.C. who call themselves the Fearless Vampire Killers sever the heads of Confederate statues and wage a comedic guerrilla war on post-Trump America. When President Pence enlists droves of fascist volunteers to crush the “alt-left” uprising, the rebels must risk their lives to run the fascists out of D.C. 

What follows is not only a battle for survival—but a desperate search for remnants of what once made America great.

This book is both humorous and touches on the scary reality of the Trump era United States. Those of you who know me on this blog know I am more liberal than anything else, and although I don’t agree with everything the democrats do, this book does resonate with me greatly. You see while it may appear to be an anti-Republican novel, this is actually just an anti-Trump, anti-racism and anti-bigoted book. It strikes at the heart of a corrupt government and the abuse of power that comes with it. It showcases how quickly personal freedoms are stripped away and those who don’t fit the government’s perfect mold are persecuted fiercely.

In this comical yet politically driven novel, it showcases how lost ordinary people are when they’re put in the middle of political rivalries between parties, and how it’s the average person’s duty not to blindly follow our leaders, but to question them and remind them that they were elected to represent us, not themselves. The characters are all relatable, each coming from a vastly different background than the other, and yet all brought together with the common goal of reestablishing the freedom that the United States was built upon. While each is damaged or comes with their own baggage, they find a closeness and family none of them knew they needed, all driven by a desire to fight for what’s truly right in the world.

The imagery was great in this novel, depicting a very real possible future that is both terrifying and hopeful. Terrifying in that one never wants to live in such a violent, chaotic and fear driven society, but hopeful in that it feels like there are more people out there willing to stand up for what’s right, despite the outpouring of negativity in the media and online. Overall I loved this novel, as it spoke to me as a liberal minded person without getting to heavy into the specific political views of each character, approaching it from a moral and human standpoint rather than a political one. This is a truly unique and one of a kind novel, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/Freedom-City-Philip-Becnel-ebook/dp/B078YCZ4KW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1524562638&sr=8-2&keywords=freedom+city

Intricate Deceptions (Intricate, #1) by Jennifer Rayes Review

A young woman is forced into a dangerous world in author Jennifer Rayes book, Intricate Deceptions. The first in the Intricate book series, the book follows a woman who wakes up in a cell in a horrible situation, and ends up in a complicated world filled with Kings and Queens, Pirates and never ending treachery. Here is the synopsis:

Waking up in a desolate cell, Gaia realizes that she has been kidnapped by a human trafficking organization, doomed to be sold to the highest bidder and unable to remember anything before her capture.
An opportune rescue by Raoul, the Prince of Kayamato, saves Gaia from a gruesome future, and she is thrown into a world of luxury and privilege. As she struggles to regain her memory, Gaia learns that her rescue was no accident and finds herself in even more danger, hunted by a powerful drug lord, targeted by a thrill seeking pirate, and betrayed by those she thought closest to her.
Fighting for sanity and survival, she works to unravel the truth behind her capture, each revelation more shocking than the last. The intricate web of deceptions spun around her family will shatter her world, leaving her unsure if she will ever trust again.
Through it all, she must survive to save a friend before it’s too late…

This was a wonderfully written book. The important detail and attention showed to a very serious subject like human trafficking and the horrors people experience was expertly done. It brings a new light to the subject and helps build a dialogue and conversation that will hopefully lead to some real changes being made in real life. The book’s narrative was original and unique, and the characters became the bright spot as readers were left trying to figure out who to trust in this never ending game of cat and mouse. With Gaia stuck in the middle trying to figure out which side to be on and who is really her ally, the mystery of who she is and what her connection is to those around her will leave readers shocked. With a major twist ending that will leave readers clamoring for the next book in the series, this was a phenomenal adventure/thriller/mystery book that you will not want to put down.

Overall this was a fantastic read. The story was evenly paced, and the setting was able to paint a vivid picture in my mind. The narrative seemed to conjure up and take elements from several different genres and time periods as the author explored these new kingdoms, and it became a wonderful genre-smash read that I couldn’t get enough of. If you enjoy political intrigue, powerful and well rounded female protagonists and an engaging plot, then be sure to pick up author Jennifer Rayes book Intricate Deceptions today!

Rating: 10/10

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Intricate-Deceptions-Jennifer-Rayes-ebook/dp/B00GRILZXK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1384994989&sr=8-1

Author Website: http://jenniferrayes.wixsite.com/intricatedeceptions

11/22/63 by Stephen King Review:

The master of horror and suspense has done it again, bringing a unique and epic look back at American history in his novel, 11/22/63. The story
follows Jake Epping, a high-school English teacher who is thrust into a world-changing adventure when his friend and local diner owner Al shows
him a ripple in time residing in his diner’s pantry. Al, who a day ago was living and thriving, is now much older and dying, and wants Jake’s
help in stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F. Kennedy. When he learns that each time he steps into the past, he goes back to
the exact same day, in 1958, he first goes back in time to help another friend of his, Harry Dunning, whom was brain damaged after his father
murdered his family and left him for dead. After a mildly successful trip to the past and stopping the murder, he realizes he has the power to
rewrite history, but will face life and death situations when the timeline tries to stop him from meddling. Soon he returns to the past, and
spends years there, investigating and following the life of Lee Oswald in order to determine if he was the sole assassin. However life gets
complicated when he meets Sadie, and falls in love. Juggling a desire to stay in the past and continue his mission to save Kennedy, Jake must
face the complications of living a double life, fighting the timeline’s attempts to stop him and saving the woman he loves from the dangers of
her past.

The book is a phenomenal read, and showcases that Stephen King is still at the top of his game. Getting a very real sense of what life was like
back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, this novel showcases the vast difference in societal views, exploring themes of racial tensions, religious
over-saturation and the global political scene as a whole. It actual has a lot of bearing on the current political landscape in our world, and
manages to bridge the gap between the past and the present. It also is a thrilling adventure, that explores the age old question, are things
meant to happen the way they do, or can they be changed? 11/22/63 is a must read novel that demonstrates to new readers why Stephen King is still
a master of his craft, while longtime fans will enjoy the nods to Stephen King’s established universe and the larger than life questions he always
asks through the themes of his novels. If you haven’t yet, you should read this book today!