Benson, Angela 19(?)(?)–
Angela Benson 19(?)(?)–
To tell a good story, some writers have colorful and moving pasts of their own to draw from. Critically acclaimed writer, Angela Benson, also traveled an interesting road, but it appeared more technical than colorful and moving. Her journey from ordinary people to fiction writer shaped the real characters she created in her writing.
Benson grew up in a small town in Alabama. Writing was in her heart from the beginning. While in the fifth grade, Benson created a series of short stories for her classmates. However, she chose to become an engineer. “I was good in math and in English,” she told Marriage Partnership. “The math route seemed more practical.”
Benson went to Spelman College where she majored in mathematics and later, the Georgia Institute of Technology where she majored in industrial engineering. In 1980 she settled into engineering roles in the telecommunications industry where she spent the next 15 years. However, the role of research engineer was not enough for Benson. Though she continued to grow as an engineer by earning her previously mentioned masters degrees, she couldn’t resist the urge to return to her writing roots.
Up until this point, Benson had let the most logical moves guide her decisions, from college major through career choice. Although a trade book or engineering textbook would have been a logical choice to show her writing talents, Benson chose a somewhat daring path. She tested her creative writing skills with a story about African-American love in the corporate world. In 1994 Benson published her first book, Bands of Gold, under Pinnacle Books, while still an engineer.
Benson’s new career direction required a great degree, just as it takes dedication to successfully handle her engineering role. During this early part of her writing career, Benson had an excellent command of both areas. Readers gave her positive reviews for the 1994 title and continued to file positive reviews as recently as 2002. Her second effort went on sale the next year in 1995. “Friend and Lover,” was a novella included in Holiday Cheer. This book was released at the same time she decided to leave her job as a research engineer. Benson explained on her website, www.ben-sonink.com, that she chose romance as her writing style because she could always create a happy and hopeful endings. That format of love with conflict that ultimately results in a happy and hopeful ending was evident in each of her releases throughout the 1990’s.
Benson published For All Times in August of 1995, continuing a trend of positive reviews and feedback from her audience. Reader reviews often praised the realness of the characters she created and their ability to relate to the characters. Between the Lines, followed that title in 1996. The circumstances around the risky love affair changed but the romance between the leading African-American characters still rang bells among her readers. With the success of this novel, Benson realized she was on a roll and began pumping out the romantic titles with quicker succession in 1997.
Born in Alabama. Education: Spelman College, BS; Georgia Institute of Technology, MS, PhD., instructional technology.
Career: Engineer; author; assistant professor.
Awards: Best Multicultural Romance, Romantic Times Magazine; Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance, Affaire de Coeur Magazine; Emma Award, Romance Slam Jam Magazine, 2002.
Address: Home —PO Box 360571, Decatur, GA 30036.
Each of her next four publications hit the press in 1997. A Family Wedding, Second Chance Dad, The Nicest Guy in America, and The Way Home, followed her romance formula and appeared on regional and local bestseller lists. They also earned several writing awards for Benson including the Romantic Times Award for Best Multicultural Romance and the Affaire de Coeur Award for Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance. In spite of this success, Benson began looking for something different in her work as a writer. She did not have any books published over the next two years, but when she returned to the scene, she had something to say about the writing process. She also found the new addition that would complete her own romance writing formula.
Benson started the new millennium with a writers guide titled Telling the Tale. The guide leads aspiring African-American writers through the process of writing a fiction novel from ideas through the completed novel. The text stressed the importance of continuing to create even though the writing process may prove frustrating. “I find joy in the writing process.” Benson explained in Telling the Tale. “Of course, there are times when the process is a struggle. Sometimes it’s torture. But even during the toughest times I still find enjoyment.”
In 2000 Benson released her first novel in two years. She chose to also change genres, though not entirely. She released Awakening Mercy, her first Christian fiction novel. The new novel was part of what Benson called her Genesis House series. Each novel in the series centered on The Genesis House, a Christian-based organization that serves the poor and under-served community in downtown Atlanta. The main characters in each of the stories were also African Americans living a Christian experience. On her website she discussed Awakening Mercy, and described the new writing angle as a welcome change. “This book is close to my heart. First, because I consider it an honor to write for the Christian market,” she said. “Second, in many ways, CeCe’s story—about living with the consequences of our bad choices, and finding forgiveness—is my story too.”
Incorporating Christianity into her writing not only signified a new direction for Benson, it also caught the attention of her writing peers. Benson earned a spot as finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award as well as the Christy Award presented by the Christian Booksellers Association for the novel Awakening Mercy. The effort also earned Benson a nomination for the Golden Pen Award presented by the Black Writers Alliance for 2001. Although she did not win either award, it was very significant for Benson to be placed in the same category as other best-selling writers such as Dr. Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their Left Behind series received critical acclaim and has sold more than 50 million copies.
Benson published the second book in the Genesis House series, Abiding Hope, in September of 2001. This installment was also critically acclaimed and earned Benson a nomination for the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Romance in Color nominated the novel for the 2002 Reviewer’s Choice Award and Shades of Romance honored her with a nomination for the Best Inspirational Book of the Year Award. In 2002 she won the Romance Slam Jam Emma Award.
On top of the writing acclaim, Benson still made strides in education. While Benson had already established herself as an educator with Telling the Tale, she earned a doctorate in instructional technology and began working as an assistant professor at a leading research institute. Benson continues to write, and fans eagerly await the release of the third novel in her Genesis House series, Enduring Love.
Bands of Gold, Arabesque: Pinnacle Books, 1994.
Holiday Cheer, Arabesque: Pinnacle, 1995.
For All Time, Arabesque: Pinnacle Books, 1995.
Between the Lines, Arabesque: Pinnacle Books, 1996.
Second Chance Dad, Silhouette, 1997.
A Family Wedding, Silhouette, 1997.
The Way Home, Arabesque: Pinnacle Books, 1997.
The Nicest Guy in America, Arabesque: Pinnacle Books, 1997.
Telling the Tale, Berkley Books, 2000.
Awakening Mercy, Heart Quest: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
Abiding Hope, Heart Quest: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.
Benson, Angela, Telling the Tale., Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
Library Journal, February 15, 1997; November 1, 2001.
Marriage Partnership, Fall 2000
Publishers Weekly, February 17, 1997; April 17, 2000.
Today’s Christian Woman, September 2001.
Variety, February 11, 2000.
Romantic Times, www.romantictimes.com
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