By Angela Benson

15 years, 12 books, 5 publishers, 4 genres, 3 agents--what kind of career is that? 

Well, it’s mine.

It’s been 15 years since my first book, BANDS OF GOLD, was published. Fifteen long years. Despite the $2000 advance I got with my first contract, I knew that my debut on the New York Times bestseller list was right around the corner.

Well, it’s been 15 years and I still haven’t turned that corner.

 It’s not all bad, though. Actually, I was really popping for the first four years (1994-1997). During that time, I wrote seven books--two for Silhouette and five for Arabesque--along with an Arabesque novella.

I was “cooking with gas,” as we say in the South.

 The gas turned out to be carbon monoxide, as I went off the publishing radar for three years and my next book, AWAKENING MERCY, didn’t see the light of day until 2000.

Now, I wasn’t gassed up for those three years. Instead, my writing career took a turn as I moved from writing general market romance to Christian romance. The change also resulted in my getting a new agent and signing with a new publisher, Tyndale House. 

After two books I went off-radar again until I came back with my first mainstream Christian novel, this one negotiated without an agent.

The move from Christian romance to mainstream Christian fiction was relatively painless, but it took some time. My mainstream Christian fiction title, THE AMEN SISTERS, didn’t arrive in bookstores until 2005, a full four years after my second (and last) Christian romance, ABIDING HOPE, was published.

My story doesn’t end there. My next book, UP POPS THE DEVIL--my first with HarperCollins and negotiated by my third agent--came out three years after THE AMEN SISTERS. SINS OF THE FATHER, my latest book, which is out now, comes a year after UP POPS THE DEVIL.

SINS OF THE FATHER is a very special book to me because it represents a watermark in my writing career. Over the years, I’ve followed my muse and moved from genre to genre, exploring my personal writing style and voice. With SINS OF THE FATHER, it became clear to me what the essence of an Angela Benson book is.

My stories are inspirational family dramas. The main characters are related, the story problem threatens to break the family bonds in some way, and the faith of one or more characters is challenged. In THE AMEN SISTERS, twin sisters are at odds because one joins a cult. In UP POPS THE DEVIL, a drug dealer becomes a Christian while in prison and decides to leave the drug business that he ran with his sister. In SINS OF THE FATHER, a man with two families attempts to bring them together.

15 years, 12 books, 5 publishers, 4 genres, 3 agents--what kind of career is that? 

It’s mine and, right now, I don’t think I’d change it. I’m not sure I’d recommend my path to anyone else, though. What do you think?

Angela Benson is a graduate of Spelman College and the author of twelve novels, including the Christy Award-nominated AWAKENING MERCY, the Essence bestseller THE AMEN SISTERS, and UP POPS THE DEVIL. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Alabama and lives in Northport, AL.


Anonymous Anonymous said:

You went with your feelings and your beliefs.

I remember Bands of Gold.

It has taken me many years to finally go with my feelings and I hope to do as half as well as you have.

9:56 AM  

Anonymous Angela Benson said:

Thanks for the warm and supportive post, Anonymous. Each writer really does have to follow her/his own path. I wish you the best on your journey.

10:41 AM  

Blogger Stefanie Worth said:

I think we as authors have arcs, just like our characters do. New adventures introduce us to new plots and sometimes new genres, agents or publishers. Yet, we can be true to our core -- like your stories' family-oriented roots -- while finding new ways of expressing that through our writing.

My journey isn't even a third as long as yours yet, but I'm definitely on the road and prepared for the unexpected. Thanks for sharing your look back. Best to you on Sins of the Father.

11:28 AM  

Anonymous Angela Benson said:

Stefanie, you are so right about authors and arcs. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the well wishes on Sins of the Father.

9:15 PM  

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