Interview with Elizabeth Bent

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 own and run a scientific consulting, research and development company in addition to my full-time job. When I am not working (doing research or writing), I try to stay healthy (going for long walks or to the gym), and part of that consists of allowing myself to relax (long bubble baths, playing with cats at the Humane Society, reading silly things online or in print). 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. There is more information on my fiction website, www.madgirlscientist.com.
Describe your desk.
My office is portable- I take my laptop and my papers in a rolling bag from my home, where I set up my "office" on the dining room table, to my workplace, where I have an actual desk, to whichever library or coffee shop I decide to work in outside of normal work hours. In my home, I have a shelf set up to hold my business and writing papers, though I find those tend to creep away into other parts of the house if I am not vigilant.
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, and is offered free of charge). 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."
Published 2013-12-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

In Which No One Drinks a Pumpkin Spice Latte
You set the price! Words: 1,170. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
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.
In Which Our Heroine and Her Laser Cannon End a Relationship
You set the price! Words: 1,850. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
A jilted lover decides to try to take revenge, and winds up learning a valuable lesson in this short fictional comedy.
The Icicle Maiden and the Spider King: Less Explicit Version
You set the price! Words: 7,820. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
“The Icicle Maiden and the Spider King” is a comical fantasy story written for adults, though graphic language is omitted. Intala, the Icicle Maiden, and Tule, the Spider King, are both lonely, and can't stand one another. They decide to go on separate quests for True Love, each directed by the enigmatic talking cat Felicia. Felicia's scheming to bring them together has some unexpected results.
The Icicle Maiden and the Spider King: Being a Tale of Two Unlikely Quests for True Love
You set the price! Words: 8,670. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
“The Icicle Maiden and the Spider King” is a comical fantasy story written for adults, as it contains adult humour. Intala, the Icicle Maiden, and Tule, the Spider King, are both lonely, and can't stand one another. They decide to go on separate quests for True Love, each directed by the enigmatic talking cat Felicia. Felicia's scheming to bring them together has some unexpected results.