Retired from careers in mental health and journalism. Began writing as a child but didn't publish novels until retired. Author of 4 lesbian romance novels. Fifth in progress. Live on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State with my partner and two poodles.
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LIVES INTERTWINED: Love on Sequim Bayby Dorothy Rice BennettPublish: Jul 16, 2020LGBT
North Coast: A Contemporary Love Storyby Dorothy Rice BennettPublish: Dec 07, 2015LGBT
GIRLS ON THE RUNby Dorothy Rice BennettPublish: Jan 16, 2017LGBT
The Artemis Adventureby Dorothy Rice BennettPublish: Jan 16, 2018LGBT
The Little Red Barn: An Olympic Romanceby Dorothy BennettPublish: Aug 05, 2019LGBT
As a child in Speedway, Indiana, I dreamed of being a writer, especially a novelist. Journalism seemed the most realistic to me, so I began doing work on the school newspaper and as a stringer for THE INDIANAPOLIS NEWS while in high school. I attended a liberal arts college (Mills College, Oakland, California), where there was an English major but no journalism major. I ended up majoring in Speech and Drama, which brought me out of myself as a shy only child. I went on to an M.A. in Dramatic Arts at the University of California, Davis campus, and then to a Ph.D. at Tulane University in New Orleans. I thought I would become a college professor. Life threw me some curves at that point, so, while living in Arizona, I went back to school at Arizona State University and got a master’s of degree in counseling—that led me to a real career. While in school, I served as women’s editor for more than two years at the Scottsdale Daily Progress. After nearly twenty years in the mental health field, I moved to San Diego and found a job as a reporter for THE LOG newspaper, a boating specialty paper, where I covered the waterfront, and then went on to work for three senior publications, Senior World, Get Up & Go! and California Seniors. None of these publications exist any longer. When the Internet killed a lot of small-time newspapers, I went to the US Geological Survey and became a production editor, my last job before retirement. Throughout my adult life I started novels and either tossed them aside after a few chapters, or finished a draft and threw it into a box. I was working two jobs quite often; I had a child to raise. Just not the time to lose myself in a complex story line. My real dream of writing novels came to life after my retirement, when I had the time and ability to focus.Did you always want to be a writer? What was the first story you ever wrote about?
I started writing in the fifth grade of Speedway Elementary School. I would fill a notebook with a story and pass it around to my classmates. They asked for more, and I filled another notebook. I saw a lot of movies as a child, and I was a real fan of several movie actresses, including Esther Williams, June Allyson, Judy Garland, and later, Mitzi Gaynor. I wrote about women doing things they didn’t do then, and I had no way of knowing that someday they would. I had them flying Navy jets off aircraft carriers in the Korean War; racing horses in the Kentucky Derby; competing in hydroplane races; and racing cars in the Indy 500. By the time I was fifteen, I was a little more realistic and wrote a teenage romance about an impoverished girl who was attracted to a boy from a wealthy family, who, of course, wanted nothing to do with her. I typed it up, printed it at home on a mimeograph, and sold copies for fifty cents each.What inspired you to start writing as a child?
I was a very imaginative child, and reading lots of books and seeing many movies pushed my imagination. I was always dreaming in the form of a story, and as soon as my language skills supported my stories, I wrote them down.Why did you choose the LGBT genre? According to you, what makes an unforgettable lesbian romance novel?
I spent half my life figuring out who I am. I tried to be like everyone else, and it didn’t work. A lot of counseling helped me to recognize that I was emotionally drawn to women, rather than men. I was in the beginning very homophobic, and it took years before I found a meaningful relationship that fulfilled me and settled me in my own identity. Feelings were suppressed in my childhood; affection was almost non-existent. Consequently, as an adult, I came to the understanding that love is the most important and life-affirming feeling there is. So, I write about love. Falling in love, being in love, building a relationship based on love. As a lesbian, it is more useful and honest of me to write about lesbian love. Maybe I can help lesbians and at the same time help the world understand us. I try to write about lesbians that are REAL. That means they are human beings first, human beings with problems and issues. They meet someone interesting or attractive and in order to build a relationship, each of them has to work out personal conflicts. I try to make my main and supporting characters as realistic as possible, and I place them in realistic settings. My goal is to be at times funny, at times touching, and by the end of the book, inspiring or uplifting. I believe in happy endings, but it takes work to get there.Your debut novel is a wonderful tribute to the importance of genuine relationships. Did you expect it to receive so much love and appreciation?
NORTH COAST: A Contemporary Love Story was inspired by my relationship with a woman several years my senior, Vera Foster. During the seventeen years we were together, I learned a lot from her and grew a lot. Some people are negative toward age-different relationships, and I wanted to show that a relationship between two women of different ages could be positive and healthy. I worked on this novel, off and on, for nearly twelve years, and had interest from one lesbian publisher, before deciding to publish it myself. Because I was retired and older, I knew that if I went the rounds and faced numerous turn-downs before finding a publisher, I might be too old. I thought I would learn more but just getting out there and doing it. The reception for this novel was much better than I anticipated. Not only did local lesbians that I knew buy the book, heterosexual women and married women bought it, and their husbands read it. I was surprised by the breadth of interest in the book. This was a real inspiration for me to keep writing. My partner passed on before the book was published, which was sad for me, but I felt good about honoring her with the book even after she was gone.What inspired you to begin writing GIRLS ON THE RUN in 2011?
Vera and I moved to Sequim, Washington, in 2010; she died shortly afterward, leaving me alone with a future alone ahead of me. Writing became my solace. I started GIRLS ON THE RUN the following year as a kind of self-therapy. I took two lonely young women, put them together, and allowed them to discover themselves while building a new life in a different place, in this case, San Francisco. One is an avowed lesbian; the other assumes she is straight, although she has had little life experience with men. Their friendship grows, and Jennifer eventually has to accept the reality that there is a reason she feels so strongly for Stacy.Who inspired the character of Kiki Rodriguez in "The Artemis Adventure"?
In 1994, when I went through a period of change in my life, I was working as an assistant manager for Pacific Theatres in San Diego. A steady diet of movies influenced me and stirred my imagination. During a kind of confusing summer, I spent three weeks putting on paper an idea that came to me very suddenly while watching a TV show. I no longer remember what. But I told a story of a young girl who dreams of going to college and has no money. She runs away from home,crosses the country, and ends up at the gate of a women’s college in Oakland, California—inspired of course by my four years at Mills College in Oakland. THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE (written and titled some twenty years before the current Artemis craze) was influenced by my growing awareness of the multi-racial and multi-cultural world that I had embraced by going away from home in Indiana to college in California. It also follows my path of leaving home at seventeen and entering college without a high school diploma. Beyond that, the setting and that period of my personal history, Kiki Rodriguez is totally imaginary. She does follow my belief in happy endings and that working hard for something produces good results. She comes into her lesbianism while in college—something that in my own life did not happen because in 1959 gays and lesbians were illegal and considered criminals or mentally ill. Acting as one led to expulsion from college, if not something worse. THE ARTEMIS ADVENTURE reveals a young woman coming into her own identity, and also lesbians she meets along the way who help her, including a truck driver, a college professor, a college chaplain and, eventually, a girlfriend.The realistic evolution of Kate and Angie's relationship in "The Little Red Barn" is very down-to-earth. How would you describe their relationship?
THE LITTLE RED BARN: An Olympic Romance is set on the Olympic Peninsula, where I have lived for the last ten years, and a place I’ve grown to love. I wanted the setting and the relationship to be as real as I could make them. Angie, the barista, has had some tough knocks and is one step from homelessness while attempting to rear her two children from a failed marriage. Angie lives in Sequim, a relatively small town, where there aren’t many like her, so she is going it alone, having been rejected by her family following a divorce and the accusation that she is lesbian—which she had confirmed for herself. Kate, who sails into Sequim on a sloop, is older, wealthy, also alone, but despite her chronological maturity, sometimes younger and less experienced in the details of living than Angie. I had a lot of fun with these characters, trying to imagine how they would respond to life events and conflicts. Would they succeed in building a relationship, or would their issues destroy what they could have had? Kate is challenged to learn responsibility, and Angie is challenged to learn how to trust again. As with all my novels, the importance of friends and their support is stressed. Nobody survives or achieves without someone, somewhere, providing support and encouragement. I’ve been lucky in my own life to have had those people, and I try to give them to my characters.Would you change anything about your novels or the process of writing them, if you could?
If I could be younger and have more years ahead of me to develop my skills—plotting, language, word choice, marketing ability, etc.—I would of course be happy, but apparently this is my time, and I have to make the most of it with the years I have left.What is one thing that has changed after being an author? Do you miss anything?
I have little free time. I am either marketing or writing or editing or publishing, or all of these at once. Each year I do this, I am busier and busier. And since I’m an older adult, I get tired faster. Some days I just have to let things go until later. I make use of the time I have and do what I can, which is never as much as I would like. I wish I could just write and turn the publishing and marketing over to someone else. I just don’t know how and don’t have the money to make that happen.If you had a chance to bring one of the characters in your book to life, who would it be and why?
Kiki Rodriguez. I’d love to meet her and throw my arms around her and tell her that she has a magnificent future ahead of her, just to keep on being open to growth and friendship and love and new experiences! Kiki was my first real heroine—her book was third in publishing but first in conception and writing—and she will always have a special place in my heart.How do you come up with the titles for your books? What is your book "North Coast" about?
Titles are hard for me. When I finally come up with something, I have to trust that it is the best I can do and if it captures something about the story, then maybe it will work. NORTH COAST: A Contemporary Love Story is set in Eureka, California, on the state’s North Coast. The picture on the cover was taken by me when I was on a trip to Northern California, and I stopped to visit a friend in Eureka. I couldn’t understand why she had sold her house in San Diego and moved to Eureka. After I saw this Humboldt Bay community, I understood why. So I set my story there, about an artist who lives there and takes in roomers to help pay the bills while she is developing her career as a painter.Of all the advice you've received over the years, which one has helped you the most? On the contrary, what is some of the worst advice you've ever received?
The most useful advice I’ve had about my writing is from editors who have helped me realize that I need more adjectives. That has helped me immensely, because I didn’t see that on my own. In my younger years, I attended professional writing classes or seminars and had my work slammed by experts. Rather than being helpful, that kind of harsh criticism feeds the ego of the expert but destroys the desire of a sensitive young person trying to learn.What are some of your marketing tips and tricks on how to get your books noticed and off the shelves?
I had a lot of trouble in the beginning locating my audience. I knew as an older lesbian that the best readers would be lesbian women over fifty. I had no idea how to find them. I joined Facebook, and that allowed me to reach people I knew, some of whom were lesbians, but it took me a long time to find all the lesbian groups that had their own Facebook pages. My sales grew after I learned to use Twitter—it’s more about connections, business connections, and not just friends. I could see the results of Tweets more than anything else I did. Paid advertising did not work well for me, and I don’t have the budget for it anyway. I tried getting my books on the shelves of local bookstores and discovered that while it was nice to have a book out there, it didn’t result in much for me. Local newspaper articles and my friends from church and community activities produced more local sales. Going to see bookstore owners takes time I just don’t have.Have you had a pleasant experience with AllAuthor? What are some things you especially love about this website? Some things you dislike?
All Author has been my most pleasant and successful attempt to use outside marketing support. The prices are reasonable and the work is quality. All Author does the majority of the work, lifting a pressure off me. That is very useful, and I see the result in sales. My only problem is with my limited niche market. Too many Tweets go out in places that won’t produce results and too few go to the lesbian and LBGT sites that I have identified and use myself.
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