Vengeance Will Come, First Review

Today I discovered that I had a review for my novel, Vengeance Will Come on Amazon. Further more, I’ve had the review since November and didn’t even know!

For some strange – and surely nonsensical – reason, it appears Amazon displays comments only on the Amazon site where the novel is purchased. I would have thought it’d make more sense to display all of the same-language reviews on every Amazon site that caters for that language… i.e. give your customers more feedback about a product (and not to mention, potentially help your authors).

The review is very generous:

An engaging story with a surprising twist at the end. The characters are very well developed and vivid. The story is told masterfully and I wish to congratulate the writer on such a well written book. I only wish that they make it into a movie! I look forward to Book 2.

Thanks so much “Amazon Customer” 🙂 Such a review is encouraging, and encouragement is a big help. You too can buy my novel at the Amazon US, UK, AU or other site of your choosing 🙂

I have heard before that every author (regardless of previous successes) doubts themselves and their writing ability. It’s nice not to be alone in that feeling. It just so happens Francine Rivers who is an incredible writer, recently wrote about her continuing doubts and how she overcomes the immensity of the goal.

Inspirational Reading

Recently the skillful poet Thom Sullivan wrote about the poetry that he found inspirational in his development as a poet. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and I thought it was an interesting question to consider: what novels have been influential to me in my writing?


Notwithstanding the frailty of my memory, the earliest novels which I remember enjoying were Australian author John Marsden’s Tomorrow, When The War Began series. The teenagers-turned-freedom-fighters mixed together with the maturing hormones captured my imagination. In my experience a heady blend of (limited) war, independence from adults and finding yourself developing into a hero speaks to every young adult male.

A lot of books seldom fit precisely into genres, and so I shall take liberties with a little genre-crossing on this list. The pre-and-post apocalyptic adventure/war/faith-based Left Behind series by Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins also spoke to my prepping instincts, and merged my love of reading and faith. After all, what plot could provide more of a challenge than being a minority group of people vs. the rest of the world in both the physical and spiritual realm?


Naturally, Tolkein’s The Lord of The Rings must rate a mention in fantasy. It is a grand epic adventure which blends together aspects of good and evil, loyalty and betrayal into a story of sacrifice and struggle. Tolkein opened my eyes to the fantasy world like so many other readers before me. Though at times he was a bit of a waffler, he is the grandfather of the fantasy genre. (To a lesser degree was CS Lewis’ Narnia which I probably enjoyed first, but which pales in comparison).

I remember also being captured by the sweeping and deep world-building of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (WoT) series in my early twenties to the detriment of other important things. Sadly the belated publishing of the latter books stretched out to the point where now the final books by Brandon Sanderson remain unread; awaiting a time when I can re-read the series in its entirety.

The WoT series was my first introduction to an in-depth and heavily interrelated world building. I loved the fact that multiple cultures all revered the same character, though knowing them by different names. I also appreciated the way that the environment was woven into the culture but still avoided existing clichés; for example the Ariel who lived in the desert and used expressions of endearment such as ‘shade of my heart’. Excellent!

Science Fiction

This list would be grossly incomplete without mentioning the epic masterpiece of Frank Herbert’s Dune, by which all science fiction is measured against in my mind. (Not to say that it is the best in all aspects of writing and story-telling, but is a very sound measuring stick; especially as a series). The beauty of Dune is in its complexity and time-scale over generations. The world-building in Dune is like an elaborate ecosystem; a multitude of gears where turning one cog results in all of the others moving also. Each concept is tied together into a beautiful interconnected tapestry of cause-and-effect throughout the entire Dune universe. Frank Herbert was indeed a formidable world builder, and one worthy of great respect.

Few minds are as great or imaginative as Isaac Asimov who wrote a plethora of amazing short stories. I think especially of the Foundation trilogy; which shows deep insight into human nature and projects it outwards far beyond his own time. I am only a novice at writing short stories – two of which I am especially proud of available on this site – but Isaac Asimov was a master.


I could say that is started with Jesus and all of his parables ‘There once was a man…’, but it was probably earlier than that… In modern terms, Francine Rivers showed me how powerful story-telling could be in the Mark of the Lion series. A story, told in the emotive perspective of characters that you fall in love with, can speak to reader in ways that a cold essay could not. Philip Yancey wrote it best when he said that ‘a piece of flattened pulp can penetrate the mind, bypassing its defences and lodge deep inside the psyche’ (paraphrased and expanded).

When I look back over my reading history, these are the books which stand out brightest in my memory. As I consider them, even now they beckon me to read them again.

What are the books which you have most enjoyed?



Pseudonyms or Real Names

For three years I blogged under a pseudonym, which is now floating around in cyberspace like so much flotsam. I did so because I wanted to be able to express myself more freely, without those thoughts coming back to haunt me professionally or personally. (I wanted the illusion of anonymity, anyway).

When I decided to get serious about writing I thought I’d start using my real name. Given that I have the benefit of a fairly unique surname, I thought that was something I should take advantage of. That is unless a whole host of aspiring authors all decide to use Ben Ezard as a pseudonym now 🙂

But there is of course dangers in choosing to go without a pseudonym. It’s kind of like jumping into a jungle river and hoping that the water is deep enough: you’ll find out soon enough if it is, but you can’t click undo if it’s not.

My writing could easily offend people. If you take enough people and expose them to my writing, I expect that there will be a covering of the continuum between love and hate of my style and/or content. The amount of covering may vary at differing points, but as the saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Honestly, I’m not chasing after the dollar. While I’d love to be a writer as more-than-a-hobby, I’m not going to compromise my beliefs and priorities in life, or my love of writing by succumbing to some formulaic  recipe to “make it big”. (I’d go into more detail, but that’s a whole other post…)

So with my convictions set and non-negotiable there is every chance I will offend some… who I hope will be polite in disagreement, or simply choose to ignore my writing.

I don’t want to be typecast. I love writing for the imagination that it unleashes and how the stories that play out in my head can be transmitted and evolve in the imaginations of my readers.

I want to write many stories in different genres and with different flavours without being cast as a certain type of author. Pseudonyms can be used to remove perception-bias or privacy concerns. J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame writes crime novels under the name Robert Galbraith. C. S. Lewis of Narnia wrote A Grief Observed under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk in order to write on the intensely personal subject.

So my plan while I am learning to write is to experiment.  Every time someone wants to put me into a box, I plan on jumping out… at least for the immediate future.

I could taint my name. It would be enjoyable to my ego if the name Ben Ezard was associated with good writing. I’d be more than a little embarrassed if Ben Ezard became known as a bad and never-to-be-good writer. I’d prefer anonymity to that, as would most aspiring authors. I did consider writing under a pseudonym early in my writing career and then switching to my real name. Probably that would be the smart thing to do, but I choose to be brave/stupid instead.

A point in case: though her writing has unequivocally re-cast her name, Francine Rivers was once known for her erotic romance novels sold through a popular publisher. Now she is known and loved as a Christian author of great talent. She however summarises her successful past works in this way:

They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.

Several published works, covered in a single sentence; a footnote, and no doubt that is how she would prefer them to be considered: small, past and unobtrusive.

Rivers’ experience is one which haunts me a little. I don’t want to regret anything that I write. Intellectually, I suspect there will always be some regrets, but it is a pause for caution.

If you are going to be writing under your real name you need to be doubly careful what you write. While your opinion may change over time (which is entirely reasonable and normal) for some people it won’t be enough.