Celebrating Texas Writers Month with us today is Edgar Finalist Ben Rehder (Dripping Springs).
For a chance to win a signed hardcover of Ben’s crazy sixth novel called Holy Moly, leave a comment below by Sunday, May 15.
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Giveaway for U.S. residents only.
If you ask Ben Rehder what precipitated his becoming a writer he will tell you that it was being dropped on his head as a toddler. As he grew into a young adult and the vertigo gradually dissipated, Ben’s passion for literature grew. He longed to craft the type of soul-stirring prose that would touch people’s lives and help them explore new emotional horizons.
But he went to work at an ad agency.
Throughout his rewarding and fruitful career in the ad business, Ben has been known to write such imaginative and compelling phrases as “Act now!,” “Limited-time offer,” and “Compatible with today’s rapidly changing network environment.” However, there eventually came a time when, as unbelievable as it sounds, writing brochures and spec sheets simply wasn’t enough to satisfy Ben’s creative urges. It was time to write a novel.
Fate played a hand one day when Ben’s father-in-law tossed him a copy of a Carl Hiaasen novel and it hit Ben in the forehead. When the swelling went down and Ben read the book, he discovered a type of fiction he had never experienced before—the comic crime novel.
After many grueling minutes in front of a computer, Ben was proud to present his debut, Buck Fever. Like many best-selling classics, Buck Fever has lots and lots of verbs, prepositions, adjectives, and the occasional gerund. Next came Bone Dry, Flat Crazy, Guilt Trip, Gun Shy, and Holy Moly, which features a televangelist who knows a thing or two about marketing Jesus, a fossil collector with a rather unusual fetish, and a backhoe operator who’s dug his last ditch.
We’re talking about an author whose blog’s stated mission is to waste your time and get you in trouble at work, folks. Enjoy the interview.
Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?
A. Yes, I was born here, in Austin, although I understand Donald Trump has been asking to see my birth certificate.
Q. How did you end up writing fiction?
A. When I was in college, I got a job as a runner at an ad agency. I started watching the writers and art directors in the creative department and it looked like they were always having a pretty good time. When a position opened up for copywriter’s assistant, I asked if they’d let me give it a shot. I had no credentials other than being an English major and having a brief stint as an iron-fisted dictator in a small South American country, but they took a chance and gave me the position. I didn’t realize what a great opportunity it was—writing ads while I was still in college. I was essentially doing work that a lot of graduates would’ve killed for. After quite a few years cranking out TV and radio spots, brochures, direct mail, websites, etc., I decided to write something that was all my own. After many grueling minutes, I had written Buck Fever, the first novel in my Blanco County series.
Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?
A. Uh, well, you’d be stretching the meaning of “bestselling” quite a bit if you apply it to me, but I’ll take it. I guess I’ve done a bit of everything—hundreds of signings and other events, website, postcards, bookmarks, radio interviews, reviews, human sacrifices, blog—anything to get word of mouth going. But nothing ensures success better than obliterating your competition with a giant death ray.
Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?
A. The Chicken Hanger will be published by TCU Press in the spring of 2012. It’s set along the Texas border, near Laredo. It revolves around an illegal immigrant who works at a poultry-process plant. Also, there are zombies.
Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?
A. www.benrehder.com or on Facebook. You may also notice that my name is featured on a lot of other websites, except the letters aren’t always in a row.
I too love Carl Hiaasen so I am sure I would love to read this book. Thanks for the interview! I am an email subscriber to your home page and also to this blog.
Love his sense of humor! Can’t wait to read the book. You know they say that those who are truly funny are truly brilliant! Bravo Ben!
I love his books…I have lived here in the Hill Country for 15 years…and when I read them I can imagine exactly where they are and feel like I am there watching the scene play out…Cannot wait for the next one!!!!
This looks like a laugh-out-loud book! I haven’t read any of his books, but I think I have to check them out. (I love his answer to your native Texan question!)
Excellent books. Very entertaining and easy to read. I have read all Ben’s books and can’t wait for his new stuff. I have given them out and recommended them to many friends both north and south of the Red River. The only fault I find with Ben is that he roots for that terrible burnt orange UT. Oh well, not everyone is lucky enough to be a Red Raider fan!
Don’t trust him, he just uses the same 26 letters we all use, he just arranges them differently.
If you’ve not yet read Ben’s work, I highly recommend! Do not read them at work, or on public transportation, though it is a good way to assure you get a seat with plenty of elbow room.
PS. I already have a signed copy, so I’m just weighing in for fun and the hopes that I will get my very own signed copy of The Chicken Hanger.
This entire post kept me laughing. Now I’ll have to check out his books. If he writes as he interviews, it should be an adventure!
If his interview humor is anything like his books, sounds like we are in for a treat.
Did Ben want to be the Carl Hiaasen of Texas or is that just the direction his writing looks to be taking him? Does he find his home state a unique subject or is this just an example of “write what you know” with a funny twist?
Ben Rehder’s Blanco County series holds a special appeal to me as a Texan, but it’s by no means essential that one be a Texan to enjoy and appreciate the writing. Rehder’s characters are full of life … a reflection, I’d surmise, on the author himself. And though we’ve never met, I’d almost swear he knows some of the bona fide characters I’ve encountered at Hill Country deer camps over the past few decades. If it wasn’t so funny, it’d be scary.
Illegal Immigrants on the Texas/Mexico border are bountiful. What about the Zombies? Are they US born citizens, naturalized citizens, resident aliens or illegal aliens? Oooppss!! I forgot another creepy possibility, what if they were poultry zombies? I guess there would be a poultrygiest in the plot. (apologies to Gary Larsen)
Being a native Arkansan, I can tell you with all certainty that next to Interstate 30, Ben Rehder is the best thing that ever came out of Texas. I’ve enjoyed the Blanco County series and am very much looking forward to The Chicken Hanger. I’m also very proud of the fact that I am one of his many Facebook friends, although I expect to be excommunicated when he finds out I’m from Arkansas.
I discovered Ben’s books quite by accident and have been addicted ever since. His style is so captivating, you feel as if you are right there with the characters. I feel that if I were ever to travel to this area of Texas, I would feel at home. He is gifted author and a funny man.
Wow. I appreciate all the kind comments, despite the fact that some of you are non-Longhorns or even, God forbid, non-Texans.
Louis, I wouldn’t say I wanted to be the Carl Hiaasen of Texas, but it was reading his work that inspired me to take a stab at writing my own novel. I figured if there was a market for that type of silliness, I might as well give it a shot myself.
You want a tip on some other fun Texas books? Click on the name “Bill Crider” above. Likewise, Reavis Wortham has one forthcoming.
I highly recommend Ben’s books. I’ve read them all. Not only laugh-out-loud funny, but cool characters, skillful plots and fantastic settings (but of course, I am a native Texan & live in Blanco Co.) I’m definitely looking forward to The Chicken Hanger, with or without zombies. I’m also happy to count Ben as a friend with or without Facebook.
Zombies! I can’t wait!
OK then, Ben, where IS the birth certificate??? Actually, I think anyone who reads your Blanco County series would know you were Texan even without the legal papers. I’ve read them all and I, as an also Native Texan, will vouch for your Texanity AND for your incredible genius at your genre. Now, about that landlord thing… : )
Ben Rehder is the funniest writer I’ve ever read. All my relatives scattered around the U.S. love his books, so you don’t have to be a Texan to appreciate them.
Ben’s books are laugh-out-loud funny. We have all of them and have enjoyed all of them. Waiting for the next.
Sounds fun. Count me in, please.
Yay for a Texas author 🙂 I’d like to read some of his books.
Ben Rehder is a clever guy. I like his wiriting style and his character descriptions. I always feel like I am right there in the middle of the action. He pulls you right into the book. I also like Carl Hiaasen, Cas Dunlap and Corson Hirschfeld. If you enjoy any of them, you will love Ben’s books. I am impatiently awaiting Ben’s next book. I can’t wait to see what he does with zombies. Like Ben, it has to be hysterical.
I love to read about wiley Texas characters who say and do outlandish things all wrapped up in a great story. I love feeling a certain familiarity with the locales and places that I have been to. Ben’s work is funny, a light read, but shows a lot of research into the amazingly complex creature known as a “Texan”. Did I say that when evacuating the home we lost to Hurricane Ike, I made sure to grab all my Ben Rehder books? They were too important to leave to the Gulf. Nuff said!
I have read all of Carl Hiaasen’s books and all of Ben’s, the only thing they have in common is they both have funny names! Carl’s books have weird made up characters while Ben Rheder’s are just plain Texas ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ doing what ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ do and lyin’ about it.
Love the author write-up and interview – funny guy! My favorite feature in a man is a sense of humor… ; )
I am a Texan. When I cross the border into another state, I wilt just a little bit. So I love these books about Texans and all the glory of the landscape that is Texas. My mom and I read the whole series while my dad was going through chemotherapy. They made me literally LOL, and we needed that so desperately at that time. I cannot wait for his next book, in the mean time I have to read these chick-flick drama filled girl books.
As a Scot who has never been nearer to Texas than Glasgow, I must say the Blanco County series is really funny – you don’t have to be Texan to enjoy them! Non US resident so no ulterior motive in submitting a comment – just love the books!
i love the title of this book…thanks for the chance to read it 🙂 i’m a follower, too
The Blanco County books are great, even for a Californian.
Hope someday there will be more.