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Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing as Tom Clancy

Don Bentley is the author of the Matt Drake thriller series including WITHOUT SANCTION, THE OUTSIDE MAN, and two forth coming titles, as well as Tom Clancy’s TARGET ACQUIRED, a Jack Ryan, Jr. novel. Don spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot including a combat deployment to Afghanistan as an Air Cavalry Troop Commander. Following his time in the military, Don worked as an FBI special agent and was a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

DB. I’m lucky enough to have a spare bedroom that doubles as my home officer. It’s filled with memorabilia from my days in the Army and the FBI and is a really fun place to work. Hanging on the wall above my computer monitor is the framed acceptance letter for the first short story I ever sold back in 2001. I have to say that never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing a Tom Clancy novel twenty years later!

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

DB. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! I also take a ton of research and plot notes while I write. One of my friends gave me a leather bound portable notebook from Saddleback Leather Company as a gift at the book launch party for WITHOUT SANCTION, the first book in my Matt Drake series. I absolutely love it. I can take it with me anywhere, the leather exterior wraps around replaceable notebooks, and I use a different notebook for each novel. As far as writing tools go, the Pilot G-2 #10 is the best pen every created. Period!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

DB. My wife and I are high school sweethearts, and we’ve moved 16 times in the 23 years we’ve been married. We spent about half of my 10 years in the Army living overseas, and we traveled extensively. She and I dove on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and our kids have been sled riding in the foothills of the Alps in Austria. Our life really has been an adventure, and I’m so grateful I get to spend it with her.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

DB. I usually begin with a sense of terror that another book is due, and I don’t feel prepared to write it. But I don’t think that’s what you were asking! Before I start writing, I normally take a lot of notes in the notebook I mentioned before or a yellow legal pad. I wrote down things like plot summaries, questions I have, motivations, important research tidbits, etc. Then I hit the keyboard. Many of my books have multiple POVs and I keep each of these as separate word files until I’m done with the first draft and ready to figure out the scene sequence. I usually try to start a writing session with an overview of where the scene needs to go with a focus on goal, motivation, and conflict. Then it’s time to pound the keyboard!

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

DB. Until very recently I was still working a day job in addition to writing. Because of this, I had to be very intentional about my writing time. On weekdays, I would get up at five and write for an hour or so before work and then again for an hour or so at the end of the day before bed. On the weekends, I would spend most of each day Saturday and Sunday writing. Now that I’ve transitioned into writing full time, I still do two writing sessions a day but they are now morning and then early afternoon after my workout. I’ve found that it feels less intimidating to break my daily word goal into two more easily achieved chunks rather than trying to crank them all out in one sitting.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Enjoy Part 2 of this Interview  June 25th

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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