Interview with Renee Benzaim

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in California in a large family. As an adult, I lived in North Carolina, Delaware, and Hawaii. Looking back, I can see that the ":California mindset" is different, especially from that of the East Coast. I think this influence gives my writing a less formal, more open style. Also, my crime fiction series featuring Robbery/Homicide Detective Annie Avants is set in Kern County/Bakersfield, California where I lived for many years.
When did you first start writing?
I remember the first long story I ever wrote. I was in the third grade and my teacher, Miss Steere, asked us each to write a story about something in history.
I chose to write about the Donner party and the tragedies that befell them as they tried to make it to the wild west.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Right now I'm writing a series featuring Detective Annie Avants of the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Most of my family worked in law enforcement and I majored in Criminal Justice in college. I enjoy listening to police calls and following the action.

Annie Avants is an ancestor and I wanted to feature her name and her roots - she's originally from Mena, Arkansas - but I wanted to transplant her to California where I was familiar with the location. The two blended perfectly.

I just finished the second book in the series (they will all be stand-alone) DAMAGE CONTROL and am working on the third, SOUTHERN SECRETS. The first book, CAUSE OF DEATH, is available in many formats.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
In 2009 I published my first article on the internet. I didn't realize it was possible and was amazed! I then took courses and published more and more, wrote several blogs, and just fell in love with publishing and writing.

Then, one day, I was reading something and I discovered indie publishing! I was shocked! The possibilities were endless. I researched how to do it and then wrote a couple of 'how to' books based on two of my blogs, "How to Make Compost" and "Can Men Get Yeast Infections?". I was hooked. I followed them up with a short story I wrote several years ago, "Frog Crossing."
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I love Smashwords! They enable me to share my books with venues I would never have thought of or knew how to contact. Most of my sales are through Smashwords and the various channels they submit my work to.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The most excitement for me is when I put all the pieces in my head together and it all makes sense. When I first start a project, my head is a jumble of thoughts and ideas. As I progress, things begin to fall into place. Eventually, it's all there, it all flows perfectly, and I am happy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I want my fans to be my friends. I love talking to them and having them tell me what they liked and didn't like about something of mine they read. I write for myself, of course, but my fans are the wonderful people I love to share my writing with.
What are you working on next?
I've just started the third book in my Det. Annie Avants series, SOUTHERN SECRETS. This book will take Annie out of Kern County part of the time. She will visit her hometown, Mena, Arkansas, and the hometown of Jesse Greyeyes, a Deputy District Attorney from Kern County, who grew up on the reservation in Cherokee, North Caroline.
Who are your favorite authors?
Nelson DeMille, Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown, Travanian, Kiana Davenport, J.R.R. Tolkein, and many more.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When I quit writing each day, I stop right in the middle of a sentence, thought, or scene. When I wake up the next morning, I'm excited to get back into whatever I was writing. This makes it easy for me to jump start my day and makes me eager to continue the story.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have normal household chores, of course, and a wonderful husband who does most of our shopping and cooking so I can write. I read a lot and think about different aspects of what I'm writing. A lot of my questions are answered during quiet times, such as when I meditate or sleep.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
A book's description and reviews help me make my reading choices. I pick a lot of books from the police procedural genre, mainly because I learn a lot. In addition, I look for non-fiction titles on the different topics I address in my books.
Published 2013-09-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Fly on the Wall
Series: Detective Annie Avants, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 75,900. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
At 3:00 a.m. on April 13, 2014, Detectives Annie Avants and Tom Weston of the Kern County Robbery/Homicide Unit were called to the scene of a combined Narcotics Division/SWAT Team raid gone bad at a farmhouse along the I5 Corridor. The house was abandoned, but a surprise package had been left for the teams. The body of a middle-aged Mexican male had been executed "gang" style and left at the scene
Coyote's Song: A Native American Tales, Myths and Legends Mystery
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 50,210. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
There was a legend among the Sierra Band of Miwok Indians. It said that a female would someday become the Shaman of the band and she would reunite the Miwok Indians and make them strong again. Many people believed in the legend, but many did not.. Then, one day in 1989, a little Miwok girl disappeared from her front yard on the reservation. This book is a Prequel to Green Witch, Dead Witch.
Green Witch, Dead Witch
Series: Detective Annie Avants, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,090. Language: English. Published: December 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Horror » Occult
Three people have died following a witches' sabbat. Two deaths were classified as 'accidental', Annie's intuition tells her the three deaths are related. Is there a serial killer in Bakersfield targeting witches? Det. Annie Avants has a good friend who is a green witch. Working with Annie and Annie's partner, they race against time to solve the murders before the next sabbat - Halloween
Southern Secrets
Series: Detective Annie Avants, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,270. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Historical » USA
(5.00)
Deep in the Ouachita forests of Arkansas, Zachary Avants finds 3 journals written by his great grandfather that gives sensitive information on a secret society active during the Civil War - the Knights of the Golden Circle. Unfortunately for Zack, and his cousin Det.Annie Avants in California, the KGC & FBI would do anything to recover these journals. Even murder and kidnapping.
Damage Control
Series: Detective Annie Avants, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,180. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
(4.50)
Detectives Annie Avants and Tom Weston tackle one of the most perplexing murder mysteries since they became partners. The crime victim is a well-respected attorney. He has gone missing and the only criminal evidence is his car with blood on the passenger seat.. Before they can understand the criminal mind of the killer, another person goes missing! Is a serial killer stalking Bakersfield?
Cause of Death
Series: Detective Annie Avants, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,250. Language: English. Published: April 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
(4.43)
A Serial Killer. Black widow spiders. A race to catch the perp before he strikes again. Meet Robbery/Homicide Detective Annie Avants and her partner, Detective Tom Weston of the Kern County Sheriff's Office in Bakersfield, CA. Cause of Death is a spine-chilling thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the last minute - and makes you wonder about the "normal" people in YOUR daily life.
Salsa!
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 16,910. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Specific Ingredients / Natural Foods, Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Methods / Quick & Easy
REVISED OCTOBER 2012 to include METRIC weights and measures, as well as American Standard measures. Salsa is one of the most enjoyable foods today, and it's great with tortilla chips, of course, but also makes a wonderful accompaniment with grilled foods, beef, fish, chicken, pork, and as a side dish. This eBook includes 80 delicious recipes, with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Can Men Get Yeast Infections?
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,130. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / contagious, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / skin
When someone mentions "yeast infections" we usually think of women and the types of yeast infections they experience. Many folks don't even realize that men, also, are victims of yeast infections. In this 34-page booklet, we will explore yeast infections in men - what types they are prone to, how they become infected, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. (booklet: 9100 words)
How to Make Compost
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 10,900. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Home and Garden » Gardening, Nonfiction » Home and Garden » Gardening
(4.00)
In this booklet, you will learn the basics of composting and several different methods you can use to handle your kitchen scraps, dog feces, and cat litter. As you learn how to compost your kitchen scraps, leaves, and grass clippings, you will save money on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and you will keep your garbage out of our over-flowing landfills. (Booklet: 10,800 words)