interview with Zach Abrams about his book RING FENCED
1 What is your book about
My book tells the story of Benjamin Short in his various incarnations. Benjamin is a very complex character and compartmentalises his life to an extreme. His life is split into five different characters, each living under a variation of his name and the people in each of these lives have little or no knowledge of the others. The one common thread weaving each of his lives together is his obsession for music. There is an inevitability the divisions can not be sustained and the story deals with the unforeseen events taking place causing the divisions to become blurred with catastrophic results.
Benjamin is an anti-hero. Although each of his characters has some redeeming features, they essentially are all different aspects of Benjamin’s self obsession. He is a sociopath constantly using other people to serve his own ends.
2 How did you come up with the idea for your book?
That’s the strange part. I didn’t have an idea for a book. I was sitting thinking about writing something and I had the idea for the character. He developed in my mind and I thought I’d start trying to write about him. At first I though it would make an essay or a short story. The ideas expanded as I tried to explain about the different aspects of his character and the story seemed to write itself. At no time did I prepare or think through a plot and I didn’t know where it was going. Afterwards, when I read it through for the first time it was like reading someone else’s novel.
3 Does your main character resemble anyone in your family or circle of friends?
I certainly hope not. True there are aspects of myself and of people I know but Benjamin is not based on any one person. To survive in modern society, I, like most people have to compartmentalise. Benjamin takes this beyond the boundaries of what is normal or reasonable. Each of Benjamin’s lives are reasonable normal if taken in isolation – it’s only when they are combined under the same character and obsessively ring fenced that they become pathological
4 Who is your favorite writer? Why?
There are many writers I love depending on my mood. One that I particularly enjoy is the British author Michael Dobbs (to confuse matters there is a US author of the same name). I became addicted to his books after reading ‘House of Cards’ where I adored his depiction of Francis Urquhart. His own political experiences make his novels knowledgeable, insightful and amusing.
5 How long did it take you to write your book?
Once I started writing ‘Ring Fenced,’ I was consumed by it and wrote obsessively. I completed the first draft within five weeks then needed a rest to draw breath. The first edit took me about four months and it was over another year before I was sufficiently happy with it to allow anyone else, outside family, to read it. I waited a further year or more to embark on another novel and I competed and published ‘Made a Killing during 2012.’ It was less obsessively written but not by much Its sequel ‘A Measure of Trouble’ has recently been completed and I hope to have it published quite soon
6 What strange writing rituals do you have?
I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling them rituals but I prefer to write into a word document while having a couple of windows open in the background. I have one open to a dictionary /thesaurus and the other open in Google search. This way I can often research or confirm small details I’m writing about while the thought is in my head. Only recently, I’ve added a separate word document to the combination so I can make notes on my time line and characters as I go along.
I’ve recently noticed that I’m not too distracted by background noise so I don’t have a problem with a television or radio being on while I’m writing. It’s maybe helped by my partial deafness but strangely enough I’ve found afterwards that I have a reasonable awareness of what the programme has been about and it hasn’t significantly affected my writing – except maybe a few more typos to correct.
7 What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? Are you serious? Where’s the time? Seriously though, I still have a lot of work commitments and try to write whenever I can. This involves the associated requirements to edit and publish and to try to mutually support other writers that I know. Outside of all of this I enjoy reading, music travel and sports.
8 What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve recently completed writing ‘A Measure of Trouble’ – a sequel to Made a Killing and it should be published soon. I have two new projects on the go which together with writing, editing and publishing responsibilities I have little time left to read at present However when I can, I’m working my way through some of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series as they are easy and enjoyable reads. When I’m not writing at the same time, I love reading Indie books, as I find real originality whereas the mainstream mainly keeps churning out variations of the same thing.