Writing Chick Lit With Benison Anne O’Reilly

Today’s interview with with Benison Anne O’Reilly who writes women’s contemporary fiction. We talk about how this genre crosses over with chick lit as well as her tips for writing and how to balance family, job and fiction.

In the intro, I talk about Seth Godin’s new book ‘Poke the Box’ which is a great kick in ass for all of us. This is Seth’s first independent published book through The Domino Project partnering with Amazon which is interesting in itself, but the book is also inspirational. The message is to take initiative and make things happen. Poke the box, any box and see what happens next. Be adventurous. Soon is not as good as now. Don’t try to avoid failure. Throw ideas against the wall and some will fail, some with succeed. Show up and keep showing up. Success doesn’t come overnight. Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself. (I love that!)

I also mention the blog survey, please click here to join in and add your questions and feedback. Plus I talk about my new ebook product coming out very soon.

Benison Anne O’Reilly is the author of Happily Ever After? She has also co-written the Australian Autism Handbook as well as being a pharmacist, medical writer and mum to three boys.

In the interview, you will learn:

  • How Benison got started with writing in her 40s after having 3 children. She doesn’t have all the manuscripts in the drawer and hasn’t been writing all her life. She became a medical writer after starting out as a pharmacist. After her youngest son was diagnosed with autism, she co-wrote the Australian Autism Handbook. On holiday in Fiji, she had an idea to write a novel and her publisher was interested in it. She’s currently writing the next in the series.
  • On writing non-fiction vs fiction. There’s a lot of research for non-fiction and you know it’s good. The quality is there but fiction is a subjective thing. Benison felt very personally about writing fiction. You’re much more insecure as a fiction writer but you have to get over that. It’s so fun to create a whole world in fiction. It’s good to balance both but fiction is more fun.
  • On contemporary women’s fiction vs chick lit genre. Chick lit often has a humour element but is not always about 20-somethings obsessed with Mr Right. It can also be more about life issues for women that are written about in a deep way, i.e. cover serious issues but not in a literary manner. Writers like Marian Keyes are probably the best example. A central female character that goes through a personal journey.
  • On the aspects of biography in writing. The ? at the end of Happily Ever After is a theme i.e. life doesn’t always go to plan. So things go wrong in the character’s life although it is fictional. We all go through life issues.
  • On writing chick lit. Benison specifically likes stories about intimate human relationships. You have to like the genre and read widely in it. Being able to write humor is important. There has to be a central character who has flaws, is likable and captures the imagination. Many of these types of books are written in the first person and with the next book, Benison is juggling which voice to write in.
  • On writing humor. Is it something you can read a book on and follow the rules? It’s more of a personality type thing and what you notice about life along the way.
  • The busy life of a writing Mum. How Benison juggles her time. She just makes time in school hours and at night or when the kids go camping with Dad. It’s about a drive and the priority. Benison loves writing fiction so doesn’t have to force herself into it. She doesn’t watch TV but does read. She writes ad hoc with no specific schedule and in different order for the chapters. Everyone has their own routine.
  • On how the publishing world works now, with publicity and reviews. The difficulty of being a new writer. Ebooks and online sales have given new writers a more level playing field and Benison has seen a direct impact from online marketing and online retailers.

You can find Benison and her books at BenisonAnneOReilly.com and on twitter @benisonanne

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  1. says

    Really enjoyed this blog,I love the behind the scenes stories- great to hear yours Bension.The likeable but flawed Ellie Parkes carries fanciful illusions of marriage when she weds a man Mother Nature managed to get just right, and as their marriage unravels.

  2. Jackie says

    Great interview. As a 40+ new writer without a stack of manuscripts behind me, it was inspiring and just the confidence boost I needed. Thank you!

  3. says

    so nice to hear an interview with a womens fiction writer. the genre is so often overlooked as being unimportant or fluffy yet they are my favourite ‘escape’ books. (which could be why I write in the genre 😉 ) I especially like that Bennison was talking from the Australian perspective – not every author comes from overseas! Thanks Joanna


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