Interview with Elizabeth Bent

Published 2019-08-14.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote was called "The Magic Chess Set", and as one may surmise, it was about the adventures of magical, living chess pieces. I wrote it when I was about eight years old. My first award for fiction was obtained when I was twelve, for a story about a fuzzy green alien on a planet filled with malevolent foodstuffs: "Fizzgig in the Land of the Edibles". Sadly, that story has been lost.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a molecular microbial ecologist, and I work as a consultant. When I am not working (doing research or writing), I try to stay healthy, and part of that consists of allowing myself to relax. I find that the process of writing can transport me away from daily existence to fun or exciting places, and I hope my readers are similarly transported.
What is your writing process?
I usually sketch out a draft of the story, particularly for novel-length fiction, and the characters. I then spend a fair bit of time visualizing what happens. When I can see it clearly enough, I simply sit in front of the computer and describe what I am seeing, as well as I am able. I keep refining the language I use for describing a scene in each editorial pass until I am happy with the outcome, and it usually takes me a minimum of 10-12 revisions before I am happy with the result. Some of my shorter, simpler works are less heavily edited, but this is the process my work goes through before I offer it for sale.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order, I am a fan of P.C. Hodgell, Christopher Moore, Gail Carriger, John Scalzi, Ursula K. LeGuin, Tainith Lee, J.K. Rowling, Michael Ondaatje, Dan Brown, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Hermann Hesse, Jack Kerouac and Shakespeare. My favourite 'brain candy' book of all time is Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's "Sorcery and Cecilia", which is a silly book but so much fun to read. I have been known to quote entire passages.
Tell us about your first novel, "Perigee".
I wrote "Perigee" in 2000-2001, when I was living under stressful conditions and finishing my Ph.D. degree. It was a silly story and a way to take my mind off the things that were bothering me. I self-published it with iUniverse in 2001, but wasn't happy with the final result (I had missed a few typos in my proofreading, which I was given one week to do- the week that happened to be one where I moved from the USA to Canada, found a new apartment, bought a new car, and started a new job). In 2013, I finally revised it, changing the language and adding in scenes, and am now happy with it. It is both available in print and electronically, though not via Smashwords (via Amazon).
Describe your desk.
I tend to carry my writing materials around with me and set up shop wherever is convenient- the couch, the backyard deck, the kitchen table, my actual desk in my office, or a coffee shop.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Guelph Township, Ontario, which is where I currently reside, though I spent eighteen years living away from home (I've lived in different parts of Canada as well as the United States, including Alabama, California and Alaska, and also in Sweden). My writing was influenced heavily by the extensive amount of reading I did as a child- my mother and brother Fred both had large libraries of fantasy and science fiction books, which I devoured, and my mother also subscribed to "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction", where I was introduced to short works by a lot of good authors.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love to think I am making other people happy with my writing. I often write small stories as gifts to friends, and tend to share these freely (my first Smashwords offering, "The October Pumpkin Spice Everything Phenomenon", was written in a few hours as a silly small gift for my friend Nathan). I love hearing what people think of my work, and hope that if you read a story of mine, you will contact me and let me know what you think of it.
Why do you say you write "adult" science fiction and fantasy?
I include the word "adult" since I may include adult situations in my writing (sexual scenes, or violence) which are really not suitable for young children. I do not use these situations gratuitously, but they are present and I would hesitate to recommend these works to people under sixteen or so. My Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy series are suitable for all ages, though young readers may not get all the jokes or be able to understand all the vocabulary, and there is a Less Explicit version of my fantasy story "The Icicle Maiden and the Spider King", though the story still is a little racy for younger readers. One of the reasons I charge for the full download of this story (either version) is to prevent young children from being able to access it without some sort of parental supervision.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My current work in progress is a science fiction novel, "Anagama", that is set in the same universe as "Perigee". It tells the story of Seth, an amnesiac survivor of an often-deadly retrovirus. The viral infection left him with changed genes and many new attributes, some of which are useful in fighting and evading pursuit. As such he is considered a valuable catch by the biotechnology giant Zurvan Corporation. Seth spends his life trying to avoid attracting attention and Zurvan's agents, until he makes some unexpected friends. To help them and free himself, Seth has to confront some of his deepest fears.

I started "Anagama" in 1998 as an expansion of an idea formed in a university science fiction writing class story, in response to a thought I had while driving through a rainstorm. I was wondering out loud what to call my character when I heard him say, "My name is Seth."

I've also finished another novel, "Infinity", which is about time travel, assassinations, romance, and terrible floral bouquets, and I have ideas for at least fifty more stories, most of which are the product of bipolar delusions.
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Books by This Author

In Which No One Drinks a Pumpkin Spice Latte
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 1,170. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Sven goes into Lucy's flower shop to retrieve his entry in a floral competition, and Lucy has far too many pumpkin spice latte coupons to give away. Apologies to Fox Entertainment.
Fifty Shades of Easter
Series: The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,690. Language: English. Published: April 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Canadian superspies Agent Diamond and Charming Guy are back! This time they are present at an Easter egg decorating fundraiser when a crime is committed. It's up to our intrepid duo, with help from a few fetishists, to save the day. Despite the title, this is a very chaste story.
The Case of the Missing Sapphire
Series: The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,340. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody
This is the fourth story in the comedy series featuring Canadian superspies Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. In this tale, Agent Diamond is pressed into catsitting an extremely difficult cat, and manages to solve a crime while doing so.
In Which Our Heroine and Her Laser Cannon End a Relationship
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 1,850. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
A jilted lover decides to try to take revenge, and winds up learning a valuable lesson in this short fictional comedy.
The Case of the Holiday Clichés
Series: The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 3,370. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Canadian superspies Agent Diamond and Charming Guy are back, fighting against insipid literature in this new short story. No holiday cliché is safe! This book is a free download and it is intended as a 2014 holiday gift for one and all. Apologies in advance to those who knit.
The Mystery of the Missing Taxicabs
Series: The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 11,660. Language: English. Published: January 4, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Canadian super spies Agent Diamond and Charming Guy are back, this time to try to save New Year's Day. The evil genius Dr. Sinister has stolen the Psycho-Cab-O-Meter, a device for psychically summoning taxicabs, and has re-engineered it so the cabs will never come. It's up to Diamond, Guy, and their allies to put a stop to Dr. Sinister's nefarious plans while at a New Year's Eve cocktail party.
The October Pumpkin Spice Everything Phenomenon
Series: The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 3,610. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(2.00 from 1 review)
"The October Pumpkin Spice Everything Phenomenon" is a whimsical short story chronicling some of the adventures of Canadian super spies Agent Diamond and Charming Guy. If you've ever been tired of, or bemused by, the seemingly never-ending stream of pumpkin-themed products that enter stores every October, this story is for you.