This time I am talking to Ed Benjamin who grew up in Alabama and North Carolina and entered the United States Air Force after graduating from college. He never flew airplanes but spent much of his 27 year Air force career supervising and training people who worked on airplanes. After he retired from the Air Force, he became a proposal writer. Ed writes proposals to help people get business with federal, state and local governments.
He lives with his wife in the Texas Hill country north of San Antonio, Texas in a community called Bulverde, Texas. They live in a rural area with assorted cats, raccoons, squirrels, birds and other creatures. They have five grandchildren and his son is a fighter pilot in the Air Force.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Ed Benjamin: The first thing I remember writing was a chapbook about some artists whose portraits lined the walls of one of the buildings where I went to college as a freshman. Since then, I have written short stories mainly for my own enjoyment.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Ed Benjamin: I have always been inspired by good writing. I don’ like to pick people out because then I* am afraid I would leave someone out. I have always been a bad reader. I flunked speed reading. Actually I didn’t. I went from 300 words per minutes to around 1500 words per minute but soon regressed back to 300 words per minute because I like to stop and marvel at the way the author has phrased a sentience or an adjective or adverb he or she has used. You can have your speed reading. I like to stop and “smell the roses” when I read.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Ed Benjamin: I love the characters. For me, they take over and tell their own story. I may start out thinking I will want a character to act in a certain way but more often than not, they take on a life of their own and push me out of the way. All I have to do then is to stay at the keyboard and help them tell their story. They get ahead of me sometimes and I can hardly keep up and I think I lose some things they want to say but I hope they forgive me. I am going to keep trying to help them tell their stories. I have a lot of demands in my life but now have been giving more and more time to my characters.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us something about your book “Harry's War” and the main character Harry Miles?
Ed Benjamin: Harry Miles is a flawed “fighter pilot”. Harry enlisted the United States Air Force from humble beginnings. He enlisted in the Air Force before he finished his High School education because of a family tragedy. One in the Air Force, he realized he needed to better himself so the first thing he did was to take a test and get his High School Equivalent degree. Then he applied for entrance into the Air Force Academy, graduates, receives his commission and then attends flying training and becomes a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots are the front line warriors in the Air force and they have developed a macho ethos all their own. When the story opens, Harry is flying Combat Air Patrol in an F-15C Eagle fighter over Iraq when his wingman is shot down by an Iranian fighter. Harry finds himself alone facing eight Iranian SU-27 fighters. After the battle, harry finds he must face the ral war – the war inside himself. The war each of us must face and win, the life lessons we need to overcome, to survive as a human is the war Harry must face again. The question is “Will Harry win this war?”
There are some other factors in the story but I will leave them for the reader to find. I do not want to be the spoiler.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for the book?
Ed Benjamin: My son had a temporary assignment flying Combat Air Patrol to enforce the “no-fly” zone over Iraq between the First Gulf War and the Second Gulf War. After the second Gulf War, I read some accounts of Iraqi pilots who flew their fighters to Iran rather than face the US fighter pilots. One day recently, as tensions mounted between Iran and the rest of the world, I speculated that some Iranian fighters might want to take on some US and/or coalition fighters to let the world know they didn’t like all the sanctions. I really just wanted to see if I could research and write in fighter pilot language since I had never flown a plane. It was only going to be a very short story about an air battle but then Harry took over.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new?
Ed Benjamin: I currently have three projects in work.
One project is take some information from a nonfiction book I published in 2009 and add some information and write a book focused on preparing proposals for the federal government. My original book, which sold very well, was more of a secondary school primer to help people get business with federal; and state governments and to get grants.
My second project is to develop and update a novella I wrote in 1998 about an UFO abduction gone wrong from the visiting aliens point of view. It was and will remain a black comedy.
My third project is to continue my research for a full length Harry Miles novel. I have the start in my had and am doing some research so that when harry takes over the story, he will have a base of information to ue if he decides to use it. I don’t want to give up any details at this time but it will be exciting and fraught with drama as Harry continues to battle within himself (but a lot of that is up to Harry).
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Ed Benjamin: Write.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Ed Benjamin: I have said that many inspire me but if I had to name one, I would name three. They are: Thomas Wolfe who wote “Look Homeward Angel” and “Of Time and the River”; Ernest Hemingway who wrote in his clipped, declarative style; and William Faulkner, who obviously lived through his characters. Plus, I like what William Faulkner said when he accepted the Nobel Prize.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Ed Benjamin: They can find “Harry’s War” for 99 cents wherever eBooks are sold. Here are a few links.
Barnes and Noble Nook
My nonfiction book “Cash In on the Obama $3 Trillion spending Plan” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.
My original novella, “The Mission” (electronic only) at http://flowingwaterpress .com
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Ed Benjamin: Linked IN as “Ed Benjamin”
FaceBook as “Ed Benjamin”
Twitter as “@colbenjamin”
Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Ed Benjamin: No. Harry is calling.
Below is an excerpt from his book Harry's War!
Harry Miles, F-15 fighter pilot in the mother of all air-to-air battles against 8 Iranian fighters. . .
He saw 3 air-to-air missiles headed his way. Both of the remaining Flankers had gotten within launch range.
Harry jammed his stick forward and pulled his airplane down and to the right as he began evasive maneuvers to get away from the danger. He managed to evade two of them but he didn't know if he was going to lose the third.
He had pushed the stick forward again and started to climb but it didn't seem to do any good. His throat constricted and tightened. Harry had tunnel vision and things were going black. It felt like his consciousness was jammed into a cone with the exterior sides at 45 degrees angles and some giant force was pushing the sides together closing the gap of consciousness. It seemed there were these two giant hands pushing at the edges of his mind pinching it and closing it. The fear crept in. His world spun. Normally, he could handle the g-forces that all the F-15 pilots dealt with on a daily basis. Lack of oxygen caused everything to turn gray.
Damn. Everything's spinning. Everything is going black. Did I get hit?
His body jerked in a convulsive spasm and when he did so, his hands pulled back on the throttle. With the lack of thrust, his plane hit that combination of forces that all pilots dreaded. His airplane began to spin and gyrate in a 360-degree circle on a horizontal axis while careening down as gravity worked its inexorable force. Known as a "flat spin," most pilots considered it the kiss of death. The textbook answer requires the pilot to eject as soon as possible for there was no recovery.