Paul Bennett has been with Athanatos since 2014, after he won the Novel Contest.
Q1: Why do you write?
Like so many other authors, I have always felt the need to write. The biggest reason that I write is not just because I enjoy storytelling, but because I enjoy creating a character with real emotions who faces realistic challenges. I then enjoy the process of using word pictures to allow the reader to fully identify with the character and feel what they are feeling. Life is difficult and full of events that leave deep impressions and scars on people’s lives. I encounter people everyday who feel completely alone as they struggle with these issues. Sometimes those events come from outside ourselves and sometimes they are caused by our own actions. In my writing I strive to capture those situations, capture the intense emotions associated with them, and then show that there is an answer. Not just a patch or covering, but true healing that can only come from God Himself.
Q2: How would you describe your writing method?
When I write, I usually begin with a basic idea that strikes an emotional cord with me; an idea that is unique but yet addresses issues that we all have in common. I then develop a plan for the way I would like for the story to begin. I then work on creating high points in the story followed by developing an appropriate ending. With these parts done, I then begin to write the story and connect the beginning, middle and end parts of the story with an appropriate and believable storyline. As I write, ideas often spring out that help to enhance the story and I often change some of the climax events as well as the ending. This method has always worked well for me as it allows the characters to grow and change as the story is written.
Q3: How would you respond to the classic question, “Is there Christian art, or artists who are Christians?”
In my opinion, part of the answer to this question lies in a person’s definition of what a Christian is. Many artists may identify themselves as Christians because of their heritage, or just the fact that they go to church or live in the United States. Therefore, they might identify themselves as artists who are Christians. However, and again in my opinion, I believe that artists who have a true relationship with Jesus Christ are the only artists capable of creating true Christian art. As a follower of Christ, I want everything that I write to give all the honor back to Him. I have nothing without Him. So, although I may write about the violence, hatred and darkness that is in the world, I do so only to show that there is only one true answer for a horribly broken world. This is the essence of true Christian art.
Q4: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Keep writing! The task of writing is difficult and very personal. Rejection hurts but it is part of the journey. In the end, your work will be better by listening to honest criticism. Never forget that God always finishes what He starts and if He has called you to write, then He will make a way. Never think that you have to publish a novel to be a true writer. Take every opportunity that you can to share your talent with a world that needs to hear the message of hope. There is no writing project that is too small.
Q5: Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?
As my only published work, A Fall of Sparrows holds a special place for me. I love the characters, the setting, and the time period. I also love being able to bring together two very different characters and develop a strong realistic relationship between them. I also write devotions for Thomas Road Baptist Church and nothing could be a greater honor for me.
Q6: Which has brought you the most heartache?
I don’t have a specific work that has caused me heartache as such. However, sometimes hearing the criticism of others about a project that is close to your heart can bring a lot of heartache. I think everyone who is a writer has experienced that feeling. The best encouragement in those times is to know that God has a purpose. Even if one person is brought closer to God by something that I wrote, then all of the heartache is worthwhile.
Q7: Is there anything you’d like to say?
I am very excited about being given the opportunity to be a part of Athanatos Ministries! My whole experience here has been positive and I look forward to what lies ahead!