An interview with Brooks Benjamin


Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

It all started with movies. We didn’t have any children’s books in the house when I was growing up, but boy we had a buncha bootlegged VHS tapes. So during the summer when my older sister was babysitting me, I’d grab a handful of those and watch the day away. Some of my favorites were Ghostbusters, The Neverending Story, and The Last Unicorn. When I discovered that the last two had started out as books, I went on a personal quest to find every book that we had the movie adaptation of. And when I realized that the books were always so much better…movies forever remained secondary to their literary brothers and sisters.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I hope that readers get a nice blend of humor and heart with my writing. I love the mixture of the two and when it’s done right, there’s nothing better. And, of course, I love writing small southern towns with not-so-normal characters. Probably because I was and still am a not-so-normal guy living in a small southern town.

What was the hardest part of writing My Seventh Grade Life in Tights? 

The hardest part for me was probably writing the competition scene at the end. When I wrote the first draft, I’d never been to a dance competition, so a lot of the things I wrote were basically just me imagining what it would be like. It’s kind of embarrassing to think of how many things I got wrong. However, the local dance studio near my house was gearing up for their competition season, so I was able to talk to several of the dancers and teachers there to make some much-needed changes. I was fortunate enough to see them compete and a lot of the routines I saw ended up making it into the book as well. Luckily, my editor is a dance mom, so she helped me fine tune that last big scene so we could blend the grandeur of the story’s climax with the realism of dance competitions.

Who are your favorite authors?

Katherine Paterson, hands down, is my absolute favorite. Coming in at a nice, collective second is probably Louis Sachar, Natalie Lloyd, Jason Reynolds, Stephen King, and Sheri S. Tepper.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

This’ll earn me a loud duh, but…reading. However, I also love going to the movies with my awesome wife, playing video games, traveling, and going to comic-book conventions.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on another middle grade about a runaway who receives help from a very unlikely and not altogether real friend. Also there’s a dog. And a train. And a maybe-conspiracy. And tons of books.

What did you drink while writing My Seventh Grade Life in Tights? 

COFFEE! Either Coffee a’ Cocoa or Pumpkin Spice (both from Trader Joe’s) will get me through a couple of thousand words a day.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

Email or Twitter! I love getting tweets, messages, or emails from readers. Hearing from people who have read my book has to be the best thing about being an author. So, please, email or tweet away to say hi, to share your favorite part or the book, or to ask a question. I’ll always try to reply right back!

RETURN to Best MG of 2016 list