Monday, November 23, 2015

Victoria Benchley: The IAN Interview

Victoria Benchley lives with her husband of over twenty years and their two children on the West Coast of the United States. She started reading the classics at an early age, as a way to avoid chores, and counts Dickens and the Bronte Sisters as her favorite authors. After a career in corporate America, spanning public accounting, cash management, and real estate investments, at national and international firms, she chose to become a stay-at-home mom and full time taxi cab driver for her children.

Victoria is the author of the Duncan Dewar Mysteries and a stand alone novel, The Snail Man.  Inspired by her travels and Scottish relatives, she enjoys creating stories set in Scotland and Europe.

She is a Christian and enjoys quilting, cooking, and traveling (including road trips!), as well as reading and writing.  On Sunday afternoons during football season, she can be found enjoying an NFL game.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.  

V. Benchley: My latest book is The Christmas Contest.  A new adventure in the Duncan Dewar Series, this novel is two parts romantic comedy and one part mystery.  The reader gets to experience Christmas and Hogmanay in Scotland with the Dewar family and their friends.  As usual, the characters find themselves in a bit of a muddle.  Recovering from serious injuries sustained during his last case, and hoping to nurture his fragile relationship with Angela, Duncan and his family decamp for a relaxing Christmas holiday in the village of Taye, Scotland.  Joined by the irascible Chef Mondo, their stay ends up being a whirl of festivities, food, misunderstandings, and a jewel heist.  But it's not just about Christmas in Taye.  The village council is out to make a name for the town by hosting an elaborate Hogmanay celebration, complete with ancient traditions.  Is Duncan up to the ultimate contest for Angela's heart?  This good natured romp through the holidays will warm your heart as you join the Dewar family and their friends for an experience not to be forgotten.

IAN: Is The Christmas Contest published in print, e-book or both?  

V. Benchley
: The Christmas Contest is available as an e-book.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your book?

V. Benchley:
IAN: What inspired you to write The Christmas Contest?

V. Benchley: I am of Scottish descent.  I remember many of my relatives, and their writings, mainly humorous poetry, survive.  Their wit and love of family, along with my own travels to Scotland inspired The Christmas Contest.  Also, their holiday recipes played a role in the inspiration and feature prominently in some of the competitions in the book!

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

V. Benchley: I’m afraid I winged the first draft.  I start with an idea, or rough outline, in my head, and just begin writing from there.  The characters often take me in an unplanned direction!

IAN: How long did it take to write the book?

V. Benchley: The Christmas Contest is Book 5 in the Duncan Dewar Mysteries Series.  I began writing immediately after I completed Book 4.  I believe this helped the process along, because I completed the first draft in two months.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

V. Benchley: I mainly write in a third person limited mode.  Occasionally, I employ the third person omniscient limited style.  This helps the story along when my main character is out of commission, or details from another's thoughts add richness to the narrative.  I grew up reading these styles, so that is what comes naturally to me.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

V. Benchley: The Christmas Contest is a holiday themed novel.  There are several competitions going on at once in the book, some not so obvious and only revealed at the end.  I've left it up to the reader to determine which was the real contest referred to in the title.  Each character has their own challenges or game to win.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

V. Benchley: I hope my readers will enjoy many laugh out loud moments and grow more attached to the characters of this series.  I also trust the novel will help put them in the holiday spirit.

IAN: How much of The Christmas Contest is realistic?

V. Benchley: The Hogmanay traditions mentioned in the book are all genuine, although some are no longer practiced.  The area of Scotland where the story takes place is real, as is Scotland's history with the Christmas holiday.  As far as the romantic comedy aspect of the book… well, let's face it, fiction is sometimes better than fact! 

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

V. Benchley: I have travelled to all the locations mentioned in my books and/or have had a loved-one reside there.  One of the experiences Duncan has in The Laird's Labyrinth actually happened to me while staying in the same area! 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  I find the most difficult part of writing most of my books comes midway in the process.  I feel as though I have to grind out about one fourth of the book.  Once over that hump, things flow pretty well.  However, I never went through that rough patch with The Christmas Contest, perhaps because it starts up where The Laird's Labyrinth lets off.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

V. Benchley: I'm kicking around several ideas for my next Duncan Dewar Mystery.  Will Duncan choose the village life of an innkeeper over Edinburgh sleuthing?  What events or people from his past come back to wreak havoc on his professional and personal life?  Will he and Angela get around to tying the knot? 

In addition, I plan to begin work on a new mystery series.  I am currently busy developing the characters for this exciting venture.


  1. Lovely post! I look forward to reading Victoria's latest.

  2. brilliant sounding story. Can't wait to get it read. I have been enjoying Victoria's works since Snail Man and hope she will continue to be productive for many more years.