Interview with Brian Bennudriti, author of 'Tearing Down the Statues'

We're pleased to welcome Brian Bennudriti, author of Tearing Down the Statues at The Writer's Life!  Brian is on a month long virtual book tour with us and would love it if you could leave a comment for him!

Brian Bennudriti has degrees in Physics and Business. He’s taken a nuclear reactor critical, piloted a destroyer, slept in the Omani desert, negotiated multi-million dollar acquisitions, run two companies, provided strategic and management consulting across the United States and traveled around the world in every hemisphere. He’s a plankowner on the aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman and has made a lifetime study of religious beliefs and mythology. Brian lives in Kansas City with his wife, two children, two dogs and a lizard. His first book, Tearing Down The Statues, was published in 2015.

For More Information
  • Visit Brian Bennudriti’s website.
  • Connect with Brian  on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Brian at Goodreads.
About the Book:

Misling is a Recorder, having perfect memory and expected to help build a seamless record of history. That’s what the Salt Mystic taught us two thousand years ago when she came stumbling from
the flats with her visions. Unfortunately he’s probably the worst Recorder ever. So when he meets a joker with an incredible secret, the two of them are soon on the run from swarming lunatics and towering assault troops in the heart of a city under siege.

As it has for three generations, the horrible Talgo family is the spark of this swelling world war; and their wily generals and scheming counselors clash their fleets in battles of shrieking steel-entrained tornados, cannonballs of lightning, and tanks the size of cities. But it’s the joker’s secret that is the most powerful weapon of all…a trigger set by the Salt Mystic herself in myth, to save the world from itself.

For More Information

  • Tearing Down the Statues is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was serving as assistant navigator on a destroyer after the first gulf war; and my friends and I had made our way to a beautiful rock gorge in the Omani desert to blow off some steam. It was really beautiful with this opening in the rock - you could jump down into rushing whitewater, but surrounded by scrub brush and barren sand. A bit homesick till then, I’d been watching loads of John Wayne westerns like, Rio Bravo, El Dorado, True Grit and War Wagon. I was keeping up with Buffy The Vampire Slayer through VHS tapes my wife was sending along, and was reading through the first three Dune books. I blame all of that. This picture opened up in my head unwelcomed and without any help from me, condensing down from all those influences I suppose. What I saw was a worn out old soldier in a dirty and torn uniform burst through saloon doors, with everyone inside terrified of him though he was unarmed. Things didn’t really take shape till much later; but it started me asking what led him to that point, what he wanted from them, and above it all, why were they so afraid? Answers to those questions are what led me ultimately to Tearing Down The Statues.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Great question. It was ridiculously hard…the kind of hard to give creepy clowns nightmares. I rewrite as I go; and I have a peeve about crappy dialogue – which means the same chapter gets luxury spa treatment over and again. I also pick up far too easily little quirks of authors I’m reading, like they say tofu does of anything lying around it, which means it only gets trickier to sound like the same guy writing it the longer it takes to do so. Beyond those things, I dreamily ignored the warning cries of people like Stephen King and others who’ve written about the craft of writing that you’re not to plot the book up front, that you let the characters just do what they do and ride it out. Sheesh, what a bad idea to ignore them! 

The idea for me at least then, is I’m better off spending quality time on the character sketches and not the plot. When I feel like I know what they’d say, I’m ready to drop them screaming into the mess I’ve laid for them. I’m saying listen to what they’d do; and allow them to do those things. It’s none of your business if they have different ideas than you – stop being such a control freak anyway. Then if you’re like me with the tofu thing, picking up the moods and narrative structures of whatever you’re reading, use that to your advantage and purposely read things reflecting the moods and feel of whatever you’re writing. If I need to be funny, I’ll pay somebody like P.G. Wodehouse or Nick Hornby a visit, just to stir some of those ingredients into the stew. Make your subconscious work for you.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I submitted to a couple of traditional publishing houses that specialize in science fiction, as well as a handful of agents. I have a number of nice compliments to show for it…very nice people, at least the folks from whom I heard back. The conventional wisdom is to stay at the gun and just keep firing, tweaking the blurbs and pitches and query letters to adjust your aim till someone finally brings you in. It’s an incredible gamble and a frustrating, draining experience with very little promise on the other side apart from more gambling. I decided to start Grailrunner Publishing as a small private outlet for my own works as well as maybe a select group of fellow authors interested in leveraging first-world wonders like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Print On Demand sites, collaborative audiobook services like ACX, and social media promoters to self-publish. The pressure is on; but it’s enriching to learn so much about the industry and how to connect with people who love what you love.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Almost everything surprised me once the book went live. The electric shocker for me was how high a percentage of Amazon reviews are bought and paid for – that’s a new concept for me. I thought they were all legit and used them religiously to pick my reading stack. Anyway, I’m glad Amazon has been working on this to clean it up.

More importantly, I’ve been so cheered by how welcoming and encouraging some science fiction fans are. If you’re down about anything and have the remotest interest in speculating on mind-warping ideas and technology or twisting concepts around to inject concentrated awe into somebody’s head, there are still people out there for you. Some of them read voraciously, some barely break away from Fallout4 long enough to answer a Tweet or whatever; but it’s a great audience full of fascinating folks. And some trolls; but we won’t talk about those guys.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m working now on my second novel, a horror book titled, The Line Of Them. We’re aiming for late summer; and it’s going to melt your face! It’s set in a traffic jam in sizzling summer heat, which along with what’s happening really cranks up the boiler. It’s a really fun one! I’m frustrated with modern horror right now – we’re a little lazy with vampires, zombies and just pillaging folklore. Wouldn’t it be incredible if someone put together a challenging, innovative compilation of breakthrough horror the way Harlan Ellison spearheaded with his, Dangerous Visions? Anyway, I’ve placed the mark for myself to avoid leaning on what’s been done before.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I do the Twitter and Facebook thing: @grailrunner and under my name. News on published or upcoming works goes up on My email address is  I just heard there will be no new Doctor Who episodes until Christmas, so anyone who can talk me off the ledge, please contact me.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

I like to have a savory idea or image in my head before I go dark to see how shiny it is, turn it this way and that while I’m slipping off. Sometimes, it’s mythology or folklore or something visual like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Sometimes it’s philosophy or religion like Clement’s, Stromata or Heraclitus. Sometimes it’s a fart joke off the internet. 

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

The core of the book orbits around an idea. An ancient mystic placed tripwires in the stories we tell in order to save us from ourselves; and this is what happens when they’re triggered. I’ve studied physics, religions and mythology for many years and have traveled extensively. I study and influence people for a living as a consultant. One thing I believe we’re missing entirely is the fact that we crave spiritual connections the same as we hunger for food, water or sex, yet it’s aggressively sold to us these connections are naïve and unnecessary. When you see terrible things on the news, pay attention to the people in the background avoiding the camera but slugging bottled water or bags of sand or carrying someone out of the smoke – tragedies bring out the best in our character. If we fail even one generation to pass down a common morality…if we let even one generation grow up with absentee or distracted parenting and no framework for integrity and selflessness, we’re all on our own when bad things happen.   
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Why not just go get the book?   

Probably more than a lot of the folks you may be reading, I’m especially interested in hearing from you whether you loved the book or hated it. Tell me why.

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