Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meet: Angela Benson, author of SINS OF THE FATHER

Like Christian fiction? You need to know Angela Benson. Her new novel (her 12th!) Sins of the Father hits stores today. After reading about Benson and her writing, I hope you will go out and buy it! (After this post are links to interesting stories in the media about black authors.)

About Angela Benson

Though Angela Benson began writing fiction in Miss Milizo's fifth grade English class, her first book was not published until 1994, more than thirty years later! Since then, Angela has published eleven novels, one novella, and a nonfiction writing book. Her books have appeared on national, regional and local bestseller lists, and she has won several writing awards, including Best Multicultural Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance from Affaire de Coeur magazine. She was a finalist for the 2000 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance.

Angela made a faith move to Christian fiction in 2000 with the publication of Awakening Mercy, the first book in her Genesis House series from Tyndale House Publishers. Awakening Mercy was a finalist for both the RITA Award given by Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. The second book in the Genesis House series, Abiding Hope, was published in September 2001. Abiding Hope was awarded the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance presented by the Romance Slam Jam. The third book and final book of the series, Enduring Love, is not yet scheduled.

BET Books, now Harlequin's Kimani Press purchased the mass market rights to Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope in 2000 and released mass market editions of the titles in June 2002 and June 2003, respectively. Angela's first hardcover title, The Amen Sisters, was released in September 2005 by Walk Worthy Press. The Essence bestselling title won the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance. The trade paperback edition was released in November 2007. Up Pops the Devil, published by HarperCollins (Avon A) in August 2008, was Angela's eleventh novel. It was selected the November 2008 African-American Book Club Pick at Books-A-Million and was featured in the September-October 2008 issue of UPSCALE Magazine.
March 2010 will see the publication of her second novella, Showers of Blessings, in the A Million Blessings (Dafina) anthology. Angela has a diverse education and work history. She majored in mathematics at Spelman College and Industrial Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and worked for fifteen years as an engineer in the telecommunications industry. She holds Masters degrees in operations research and human resources development. Her most recent degree is a doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Benson is now an associate professor of educational technology at the University of Alabama.

About Sins of the Father
Booklist Magazine said, "Benson’s newest inspirational family drama raises more issues than it resolves, but the themes will resound with many readers and her portrayal of a newly reformed, albeit occasionally backsliding, sinner is masterful."

You can read an excerpt here.

Now to our Q&A!

White Readers Meet Black Authors: Describe your work for someone unfamiliar with it. What's your writing style like? What subjects/themes do you explore?

Angela Benson: I consider my stories inspirational family dramas. The main characters are related, the story problem threatens to break the family bonds in some way, and the faith of one or more characters is challenged. In The Amen Sisters, twin sisters are at odds because one joins a cult. In Up Pops the Devil, a drug dealer becomes a Christian while in prison and decides to leave the drug business that he ran with his sister. In Sins of the Father, a man with two families attempts to bring them together. My stories also have ensemble casts, with 3-5 point-of-view characters.

WRMBA: What's your latest novel about?

AB: At its simplest, Sins of the Father is about an absentee father who tries to make amends with the two children he has ignored for almost thirty years. His decision strains his marriage and his relationship with the son he did raise. In addition, he finds winning over his two adult outside children difficult as one doesn't trust him and the other only wants revenge.

WRMBA: What's your goal(s) as a writer? Do you set out to educate? entertain? illuminate?

AB: My goal as a writer is to encourage. I want folks to feel better about themselves and their situations after reading my books. I don't attempt to answer life's problems, but I do try to show that we can meet that challenges that face us and, not only survive, but grow and flourish.

WRMBA: What's next for you?

AB: My contract with Avon/HarperCollins ends with Sins of the Father. I recently submitted a proposal to them for my next book. I hope to have some good news in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I have a novella in the upcoming Millions of Blessings anthology being published by Dafina in March 2010. Marilynn Griffith and Tia McCollors, two wonderful people and great authors, have novellas in it as well.

WRMBA: What's the best book (or who's the best writer) that not enough people know about?

AB: Sharon Ewell Foster's Passing by Samaria. This book touched me deeply. If I had to explain racism to someone, I would use this book to do it. The book not only presents the problem eloquently, but it also provides the solution. It's not an easy book to read (from the heart's perspective) but I highly recommend it.

Thank you Angela and best wishes on your latest novel!


Katrina L. Burchett said...

The first book I read by Angela Benson was Up Pops The Devil. I loved that story, so as soon as I found out about Sins of the Father I pre-ordered it. I just got an email from Amazon today, letting me know that it's on the way and I'm looking forward to reading it. Angela is a talented writer and I hope she gets the good news from Avon/HarperCollins she's hoping for :)

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks for commenting Katrina. I hope she gets good news too!

Angela Benson said...

Thanks so much, Carleen, for hosting me. I've been so out of it with getting my course ready for school that I haven't really focused a lot on the book. I wish I had added your site to the blog tour. I really hate that I didn't. Thanks for reminding me.

Katrina, thanks so much for ordering the book.

I'll let you all know as soon as I hear from Harper.

Thanks so much for your support.