Wrapping up week two of The 2016 2K Indie Book Tour (co-hosted by Kate Evans and myself) is Ben Y. Faroe. Over to Ben:
I live in Baltimore with my wife and two lovely daughters (aged 2 years and 2 months, respectively).
While I’m technically from New Jersey, I grew up overseas in Turkey, then met my Californian wife in Minnesota before whisking her off to South Carolina for a couple years.
I studied Greek and Latin in college and Bible teaching in seminary, so naturally I’m a data analyst for a health insurance company. I’ve founded a prayer room in the past and a publishing company in the present, and I expect to be writing and adventuring full-time within a few years.
Here’s a bit about his contemporary fiction/humor novel, The Dream World Collective:
The Dream World Collective is the story of five friends who decide to quit their jobs to chase what they love.
Sushi and her roommate Summer are tired of working dead-end jobs for corporate drone bosses. So when their friend Alex quits his job and his roommate Zen proposes a grand experiment, they rope in their geeky friend Otto and move in together to build a life of art and freedom and tea and scheming.
Of course, living each day to the full still takes hard work, especially when, technically speaking, rent still exists.
Sushi, a Japanispanglo firestorm of punches and creativity, pegs her hopes on the prize money from a local art contest. That gets complicated when she discovers that one of her competitors is brilliant, uncannily insightful, and, to make matters worse, gorgeous.
Zen would be dealing with romantic entanglements of his own, if he could only find any. But between his writing, his schemes for a philosophical restaurant, and his admittedly tenuous connection to the real world, he’s at least got enough to stay occupied until the right girl discovers his secret message. Hopefully the right girl.
Alex, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what the good life of freedom and human connection looks like when it turns out what you’re wired for is organizational management. And there’s always the question of how far he’s willing to go to bail out his less responsible friends.
Summer is eager to live out her dreams of communal living and gardening and neighborhood improvement, but gardening doesn’t pay the bills, especially in Minnesota in the winter, and communal living—even with your best friends and great intentions—inevitably has its emotional ups and downs. Especially when you’ve secretly got a huge crush on one of them.
As for Otto, he really wasn’t planning to be in on this at all, but with a new basement lair and all the Shasta he can drink, he’s ready to make it work. But soon the outside world starts worming its way in, and Otto finds himself under the tutelage—or possibly in the servitude—of an eccentric British gallery owner, a tutelage-or-servitude whose results will push him to greater heights than he’s ever achieved in a non-virtual world.
And there’s the evil next door neighbor, and the ninja party, and the garage incident, and the other garage incident. But that’s the great thing about living with your best friends. Whatever goes wrong, at least you’ve got each other. And usually pie.
None yet, but there’s still lots to explore in this story and I’m planning to extend it into a series.
In the meantime, if you like The Dream World Collective, you’ll probably also enjoy my comedy series, Hubris Towers.
In fact, Zen from The Dream World Collective is a dead ringer for Jimmy Acorn from Hubris Towers. And both Otto and Jimmy have comforting foreign middle-aged salt-and-pepper chef confidantes. Hmm. I sense an impending fan theory…
Now, here’s our interview with Ben:
What was the inspiration behind your book?
This book was a sandbox where I played out some risky dreams and ideas. I wrote it because I wanted to see what happens when you quit your job to have adventures, only without actually quitting my job. At the time I was quite seriously thinking about starting some sort of communal living situation with my friends, but I was newly married and working as a delivery driver and it didn’t seem like a good idea to suddenly stop having an income.
So I started writing to explore what could happen if a few friends lived simply, worked together to make ends meet, and spent the rest of their time doing whatever meaningful, interesting, adventurous things they wanted.
And I was intrigued by what I found. They weren’t automatically happy because they quit their jobs, though it opened up interesting opportunities. They struggled with having to focus even more on money than before, since they didn’t have any reliable source of income. And they had to deal with the fact that relationships are always going to have ups and downs, even with people you love, even—maybe especially—when you can do whatever you want.
As for me, I still have a day job, but since I started writing this book several good friends and I have bought houses within a few blocks of each other. We eat meals together and watch each other’s kids and help each other pursue our dreams and make the world a better place. So it can be done, even if it looks different in every life.
Who is your favorite character?
If I had to pick just one, it would be Otto, the Collective’s geeky, pudgy, massively repressed technomage.* He’s such a cute combination of shy, grandiose, silly, and sweet, and I think he grows the most over the course of the book. I don’t want to spoiler anything, but by the end he’s actually expressing an emotion and everything.
He also, at various points, dons a griffin costume, encounters the Mario, mistakes a Brit for Edward Scissorhands, and teaches a five-year-old about Ninja Santa (or Saito Kurusawa, as he is more properly known). Can’t argue with that.
* (Not actually a thing.)
What is one thing you want readers to know or “get” about your book?
It’s a cozy and immersive read in its own right, but you can also read this book as a live experiment in community living. The main characters are intentionally quite different from each other, and they won’t necessarily always agree with each other, me, or you. That said, you don’t always have to agree with people to care deeply about them. Reading The Dream World Collective is a fun way to test out the highs and lows of full-time close quarters with real people.
Which, let’s be honest, is just a fancy way of getting you ready for the fact that Otto has imaginary gremlinoid friends, Zen talks with God, and Sushi punches everybody all the time. But they’re cool.
Who is your ideal reader? Or, who will enjoy your book?
If you’ve dreamed of quitting your day job, I wrote this for you. Alternately, if you know there’s more out there and you want to find it, if you’re into baking or tea or books, or if you care about creativity and quality and fun, you’ll enjoy The Dream World Collective.
Or we can really drill down. This book’s for you if:
- you’re idealistic, optimistic, and/or visionary
- you enjoy (or fantasize about) talking to strangers or leaving mysterious notes in public
- you enjoy both Star Trek (or similar) and Jane Austen (or similar)
- you care about making the world a better place, but not in a boring way
- you don’t mind quirky humor and the occasional big (or made-up) word
- you want to live like Amelie
What three writing tips do you have for aspiring authors?
Write more words. The best way to improve your writing is to write more. The best way to build good writing habits is to write regularly. Marketing works better when you’ve got more books. Do make friends, read books, build your platform, and learn new things, but mainly write a lot.
Find good writing friends. If you can find a few people who can give you genuine encouragement and also useful, objective feedback, you’ve struck gold. Value those relationships and make good use of them. If you don’t have writing friends, try checking the internet for local meetups or online communities. Or I can be your writing friend – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google like the dickens. A year ago I was unpublished with no platform. Now I’ve published a novel, co-authored a series, hit Amazon Top 10 in Humor and in Fairy Tales, built a mailing list and a blog, started a company, built a website, published other peoples’ books, and made some awesome friends. I learned most of what I needed by searching the web and then trying stuff. This is a good time to be alive.
Where can readers buy your book?
Barnes & Noble
Where can readers learn more about you?
The best way to get in touch (and try my books for free) is to join my list at byfaroe.com/updates. I also love hearing from people at email@example.com.
I’m terrible at social media, but if you still want to find me online, I’m byfaroe everywhere: