Interview with Stephanie Kay Bendel

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Although I was born in Chicago, we moved to central Wisconsin when my father returned from the war, so I grew up in a very small paper mill town where everybody knew everybody else. Consequently, I heard the life stories of many people and observed different personalities and became interested in the interactions among them. I realized that everyone has a story,and no two people view things in exactly the same way, nor do they react in the same way. Thus, my small town upbringing provided plenty of fodder for story ideas.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in about the fourth grade, although I had been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember. I was a voracious reader beginning at age four, and I loved the process of asking questions (what happens now?) and seeing where my imagination would take me. I also loved to tell the stories I made up and often did so at recess. The nuns at school weren't happy because my classmates would gather around me to listen instead of running around and burning up energy so they wouldn't be restless in the classroom.
What's the story behind your latest book?
EXIT THE LABYRINTH began as an exercise as I was going through hypnotherapy to discover why I had suffered from depression from early childhood. As we went along, my therapist kept suggesting I write a book, but I couldn't figure out how to tell a story that changed with each recovered memory. I knew it couldn't be told chronologically, and I worried about confusing my readers by presenting the memories as I recovered them. It wasn't until my father's emergency open heart surgery that things came together for me. The book still took a long time to plan and write, and then came the challenge of trying to convince someone to publish it!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried for years to interest an agent or an editor in this book. Unfortunately, editors and agents today are so overwhelmed that they seldom have time to read more than a few pages of a manuscript, so I kept running into objections that they saw as marketing problems. "Why did you set the present time in the 1980's? Nobody's interested in the '80's!" (Answer: This was my life! That's when I lived it!) "Why didn't you tell the story in chronological order?" (Answer: "Because I didn't experience my life in chronological order because of repressed memories.") I finally realized that nobody understood what I was trying to do, and they wouldn't understand unless they took the time to read more than a few pages, and I wasn't getting any younger!. Happily, I am getting very nice reviews.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was in the fourth grade. I was reading a lot of Nancy Drew books. My story was about an orphaned girl named Dorothy who lived with an elderly aunt in a creepy old mansion in Louisiana. A banker was trying to force the aunt to sell her property which had been in her family for generations. Dorothy discovers the reason the banker is making her aunt miserable when she explores the earthen basement of the mansion and discovers a small area where oil is seeping up from underground. (We lived in an old house that had an earth floor in the basement, and that's where I got the idea.) I don't remember the details, but I know the story ended happily.
What are your hopes for this book?
I lived for many years not realizing I was depressed. Through therapy I learned that depression can have many causes and wear many different masks. My hope is that some of my readers will see themselves and realize there is help available. I also want to educate people about depression in very young children.
Published 2016-02-25.
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Books by This Author

Exit the Labyrinth: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression — Its Onset and Aftermath
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 101,900. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction » Psychology » Depression
For more than forty years, Margo Witz has been troubled by the effects of an early childhood trauma she can’t remember. Despite years of therapy, she has experienced severe depression and recurrent nightmares. Although this is a true story, it reads like a novel. For those who enjoy memoirs, this is a must-read. Those who have battled with depression may also find comfort in this book.