Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview: Robert Bennett, author of Blind Traveler's Blues

Author Bio: “Robert Bennett, a former social worker turned writer, lives in the house he grew up in with his mother, one of his two brothers, two dogs that don’t get along, and a turtle. His lifelong focus has been a concern for the needs of society’s disenfranchised. His articles span a wide range of topics from sports to technology and from politics to social justice. His fiction is grounded in real world events and technologies as well as his own philosophical concerns. "It is the act of truly living and believing in yourself that is important, not the manner in which that action is undertaken." Mr. Bennett has spoken to groups of physical therapy students, church members and senior citizens, and has appeared on several radio programs. Contact Mr. Bennett through his website at”

What inspires your stories?

My previous career was as a social worker involved in the care of men with mental challenges. Then I started my writing career as a journalist focusing on disability issues. I switched to fiction after writing an article about a device to help blind people navigate their world. So, you could say, as I’ve often told people, that I still consider myself a social worker dealing with issues of disability, but these days I do my work through the written word and through what most people would consider fiction.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

I write mysteries with a sci-fi kicker. My protagonist’s disability (blindness), in my mind at least, tends to make the whole world a mystery in need of exploration. And, I’ve always been interested in technology so the sci-fi aspect of my stories fits that need.

What are your work habits like?

Work habits?? I’m supposed to have habits??? No one told me that! Seriously though, I’m not the kind of writer who says I need to write every day or that I need to write a certain number of words every day. I guess I’m sloppy in that regard. But what I do is write when I get a strong idea, or when one of my characters speaks to me and says he or she wants to do something. My stories are set in locales that I’ve visited. So, when I get the itch to travel I make sure to take copious notes and try to figure a way to fit the place into something my protagonist would want to do.

What do you consider your best work?

I don’t judge my own work for its good/bad value. I let my readers do that for me. I feel too close to the work to be a good judge and it feels arrogant to say this or that is my best. However, my readers have told me, in no uncertain terms, that my current book, Blind Traveler’s Blues, is my best thus far.

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

I’d have to answer yes and no. I start with a general idea of what I want to write about. Then I start doing research to flesh out my idea and to see if it would make for a good, viable story. But, I don’t outline and I don’t have a firm understanding of how the story is going to end, or even develop. I let my characters tell me where they want the story to go.

What experience do you want for your readers?

Simply put, I write about the experiences of a wide range of people with disabilities. After all, we all have a disability of one sort or another. Some, like the need for glasses, are more socially accepted than others. In my nonfiction pieces I’ve written about what it is like to be someone with a disability: the devices they use, the opportunities they are given, and the challenges they face. In my fiction I continue that trend while focusing on the world of the blind. I’d like my readers to experience all of these things.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

As both a social worker and a writer I’ve learned the importance of observation. I’ve learned to study people: their traits and habits. I don’t believe in the concept of fiction. Instead I believe everything comes from a part of the author’s experience. With that in mind it should come as no surprise that I’ve “borrowed” from the world around me. Just as I set my stories in the places I’ve visited, I also incorporate ideas, traits and habits from the people I encounter into my work. I believe all authors do to one degree or another.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

I work out of my home so I’m constantly listening to the two dogs and two other people who I live with, At the same time I’m bombarded by ideas by the characters I create. As I’ve said before, my stories are character driven in the sense that I let them tell me where they want to go and how they want the story to proceed. So, if for some reason they don’t choose to talk to me, than I am stuck not writing. Finally if, as in my next story, I want to try to experiment with a new setting or character, I am forced to rely on research material. Sometimes that is hard to find.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve started to research material for the next story in my Blind Traveler Mystery series.

Blind Traveler's Blues is available at




Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Barnes and Noble

Thank you for stopping by, Robert! - LR

No comments:

Post a Comment