Lynne Benton
Lynne Benton

Children's books
From early childhood I always wanted to be a writer.  However, once I grew up teaching, marriage and four children in quick succession took up so much time and energy that it wasn’t until my children began leaving home for university that I realised I could actually begin to fulfil my ambition.  In 1996 I won second prize in The Independent’s annual “Children’s Story of the Year” competition, and was published in their anthology.  Shortly after that my first “whole” book, a historical novel for 7-9 year-olds called Raiders! (about the Viking invasion of Britain) was published by Heinemann Educational (now Pearson) and is still a regular part of the History curriculum in schools.

Since then I have had several books for younger children published, many by Franklin Watts.  However, I am now concentrating more on writing longer books for older children.

My first Middle Grade book was JIMMY’S WAR, published as an ebook in 2014, and as a paperback early in 2015. 
This is set during World War II, and tells the story of eleven year-old Jimmy’s escape from the London Blitz with his little sister Molly, who he has promised to look after. 

My next book was THE GLASS-SPINNER, published in both formats in 2016, which is set in the present, but with a fantasy element to it. 
This story tells of William, whose dad whisks him off to the Lake District when Mum leaves.  But there William finds himself caught up in some very strange happenings, leading him and his new friend Janna into a different and very scary world altogether.

I am currently writing a trilogy set in Roman Britain, with the overall title of THE BRITANNIA MYSTERIES.  Book one, THE CENTURION’S SON, (now out) is set in Caerleon (Roman name Isca), South Wales, in 312 AD.
When Felix’s centurion father disappears, and is then accused of disgracing the Legion, Felix and his slave friend Catrin determine to find out the truth and clear his father’s name before Felix himself is sold as a slave.  But when they discover the real truth they are devastated, especially when Catrin’s second sight shows them how and why things began to go so very wrong for the Second Augustan Legion…

Glass Spinner   Jimmy's war  Centurion's son

Questions for Lynne
1) Are you working on another book?
    Yes, I’m busy working on the third book in my Roman trilogy.  Book 2, “Danger at Hadrian’s Wall”, is written, though I’m still tinkering with it before publishing it.  As well as that I’m also beginning to write a crime novel for adults.

2) What is your writing style?
    Naturalistic and traditional rather than very modern, since this seems to suit historical books.  I usually write in the third person but from the point of view of the central character.  In my Roman trilogy there are two central characters, Felix and Catrin, so the chapters are shared between them: each chapter being written from the point of view of either Felix or Catrin.

3) What do you love most about the writing process?
    I love the moment when I can suddenly see the connection between several different ideas, which will make them into a story.  I love getting to know the characters and working out the best way to put across the story I want to tell.  I also love the fact that I am never bored – if nothing else is claiming my attention my brain gets busy either plotting the next part of my current book or planning a new one.

4) What gives you inspiration for your books?
    Inspiration comes from all around me at any time or place: from a very small incident, or something someone says, or something I read, or something I see or hear, or even just from a feeling that there’s a story here somewhere.  I jot the idea down quickly before I forget it, and then go back to it later and see if it could form the basis of a story.

5) Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
    I think it has to be Jimmy and his little sister Molly in “Jimmy’s War.”  Both of them seemed to spring to life fully-formed in my head, and Molly in particular always knew exactly what she was going to say and do.  Also William in “The Glass-Spinner” and Catrin in “The Centurion’s Son.”  Of the adults I am very fond of Cassandra in “Jimmy’s War”, and Laura in “The Glass-Spinner”.

6) What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
    Uncle Ray in “Jimmy’s War”, Mr. Stone in “The Glass-Spinner” and Lucia in “The Centurion’s Son.”

7) What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
    The discovery that time goes so very quickly when you are writing – it’s quite possible to come to and realise haven’t thought about anything else for hours!

8) What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
    From an editor of many years’ experience, after rejecting the eleventh story I’d sent her: “In this game you need three things: talent, perseverance and luck.  You’ve got the first two – now all you need is the luck!” 

9) What has been the best compliment?
    When I sent my agent the manuscript for “Jimmy’s War” and she wrote back: “I can honestly say I think this is the nicest and best script you’ve written.”  I printed it out and pinned it to my notice board, so I can see it when I’m feeling down!

10)Tell us a little about your plans for the future?
    To go on writing, ideally more books for children and some for adults too.  I have plenty of ideas, so as long as I can keep going, I will.  Joanna Trollope once said, “You can be too young to write, but you can never be too old to write”, and I think she’s quite right.  I certainly have no intention of retiring!