Interview with novelist Ben Gartner

special guest is author Ben Gartner. We’re
chatting about his new middle grade novel The Eye of RA. It has a mix of
time travel, historical fiction, and action adventure.

his virtual book tour, Ben will be giving away a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble
(winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for
a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of
winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and enter there, too.
Ben Gartner is the author of adventure books for middle graders and
thrillers for adults. His writing for both audiences shares an ability to grab
readers by their neurons for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them
something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the
mountains with his wife and two boys.

Please share a little bit about your
current release.

Eye of RA

is a time travel adventure about a brother and sister who are transported to
ancient Egypt. They must overcome many challenges and work together…or be stuck
in time forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Eye of RA was a collaboration between my two sons and me, dreaming
up an adventure novel akin to the Magic Tree House series but for a slightly
older audience (one Goodreads reviewer said, “…feels like a mature and
better-researched Magic Treehouse. It is more sophisticated than that series…”).
Working together with my kids through the fun of concepting a novel was the
motivation – together time. But it grew and grew and we shared it with people
who loved it and encouraged us to put it into the world.

Excerpt from The Eye of RA:
“Sarah, where are we?” John asked,
frozen in place despite the heat. In front of them was a vast ocean of sand as
far as the eye could see. It rolled in carved waves, dunes that sparkled in the
low-slanting rays of the sun.
Dunes? John thought.
Sarah staggered forward, shielding her
eyes from the glare. “I—I—”
It was rare for her to be speechless.
And it was kind of spooky, her not saying anything and stepping forward with
the jerky movements of a zombie.
“Are you okay?” John followed his
sister out into the sand, suddenly very afraid to be even a foot away from her.
“Woo-hoo!” she shouted, jumping into
the air in her signature move, arms shooting up in a V shape.
“You’re excited about this?” John
snapped. “Sarah, how are we in a desert all of a sudden? Where’s the mountain?
The cave?” The incredible moment tickled at his brain, and he couldn’t put two
and two together. “Am I dreaming?”
“Yeah,” Sarah said. “Dreaming. We must
be dreaming. Together.” She knelt into the sand, picked up a handful, and let
it drain out of her fist. “This feels pretty real to me.” She turned around to
John as she said it, so he could see the roll of her eyes.
“How could we be in the mountains in
one moment and then . . .” He trailed off, watching Sarah’s eyes go up and her
head tilt back, taking in something very large behind him. John wasn’t sure he
wanted to turn around.
Sarah laughed, her face turned toward
the sky, her hand covering her mouth. “So.” She took a full breath. “Cool!”
The curiosity got the better of him.
John held his breath and rotated on his heels in the sand. He’d been stunned by
the vast golden dunes, but what he saw now made him squeak out a chortle of
“What—? How—? Is that—?” John
stammered. His finger reached out, pointing to the scene as if maybe he could
poke it, like it was a postcard of a giant pyramid and not a real one.

What exciting story are you working on

Well, this novel kind of snuck its way into my life. I was nearing the end of a
draft of a thriller for adults when I took a hiatus from that project to work
on The Eye of RA. So for the sake of completion, I’d like to finish that
one. But the reception to RA has been so flatteringly positive that we do have
some ideas for a #2 brewing… 😉

When did you first consider yourself a

the same time I could read. The two went hand in hand for me then, and still do
today. I can’t have only one. I have to read and I have to write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I wish! I have a day job, so I write on nights and weekends and occasionally
I’ll use a vacation day to log some real word count. It’s definitely tough to
find time and I’m sure I could pump out a lot more if I could focus on it. It
can be tiring trying to fit it all in, but it’s one of those FUN invigorating
exercises that I can’t imagine my life without.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I need absolute quiet. Some people listen to music or can write on the train.
Not me. I need to completely immerse my brain into the world I’m crafting to
watch it unfold. Just getting to that spot of total envelopment can take 30
minutes, so my preferred block of time to write is a minimum of two hours.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

A creator. Several careers that touched on that general theme, but the one I
got most serious about was to be a movie director. Steven Spielberg and George
Lucas were my heroes.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

Third through fifth grade were such a pivotal time in my personal life. And I
think, for many people, it’s the era for which we really first start to retain
memories. It’s also a time of profound brain development and the perfect season
of our lives for imagination to push our own boundaries of perception. I hope
my books stir creativity in young minds.
Thank you for being a
guest on my blog!
you for having me! The Eye of RA is on sale now wherever books are sold!

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9 thoughts on “Interview with novelist Ben Gartner

  1. Bea LaRocca says:

    This sounds like an awesome read! I love stories that I can enjoy and also share with my grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your Q&A and book details. I have enjoyed reading about you and your work

  2. Ben Gartner says:

    Thank you for having me!

    Bea — Let me know how your grandchildren like it! 🙂

    James — Thank you for your comment and for reading. 🙂

    Bernie — Ooof, that's a tough one. I suppose the first thing that popped into my head was Stephen King, though I have to say I'm more a fan of his earlier work. When I was a kid (young adult age), reading King really transported me more than the "classics" did. For example, in Cujo he took a simple premise (trapped in a car while a rabid dog prowls around) and made it into a visceral, emotional experience that I still remember to this day. I don't claim to have writing skills like King, but if I can transport someone for a little bit, then that's good writing, right?! 😉

    Thank you all!

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