By Sheree Hoddinett
After a whirlwind interstate tour promoting his latest book, The Death of John Lacey, author Ben Hobson is now back with his students and planning his next project. The Bribie Island High School English and music teacher has always had a flair for the creative side of life, but never imagined he’d end up a published author.
Ben’s foray into the world of writing kicked off in about 2009. He was in a band in Victoria but met a girl in Queensland (now his wife, Lena) and decided to make the big move interstate leaving the band behind. Ultimately, it was a decision that would lead him to where he is today.
“So it was actually my wife who suggested I could try writing, especially because I would read a lot,” Ben said. “So I wrote four books before I wrote my fifth book and it was to become my first published novel. It takes a long time to practice and get something good and I guess I needed to make a few wobbly chairs before making a good one. So, To Become a Whale came out in 2017 and was followed in 2019 by Snake Island. And here we are with my latest novel The Death of John Lacey, which was out at the end of January.”
Inspiration isn’t always easy to find as a writer, but Ben explains he was always a creative kid and also a little on the stubborn side, which can be great attributes for those in a creative field.
“I don't know where it comes from exactly,” he said. “I remember as a kid designing levels in video games. It's never been enough for me to just sit and enjoy watching a movie. I had to try writing one, I had to try directing one and everything it entails.
“There is something very special about having people engage with something you've created and I'm always sort of chasing that. It's pretty awesome.”
With the support of his wife Lena and their two young sons, Ben has been able to follow through with book tours, more writing, online book clubs and a podcast whilst continuing to teach at the school.
“My wife is an amazing person, she’s been at home looking after the kids while I’ve been travelling on my book tour,” he said. “She is very proud and supportive and for that I am eternally grateful. My boys Henry and Charlie really love it. They love going to see their dad and see his book in bookstores and if they see their names in an article, they feel like they're famous or something.
“I've always wanted to show them that you can go after something and you can lead a life that you can be fulfilled by and it's fine if that's your job. I have a wonderful job as a high school teacher. And it's very fulfilling in itself, but I just felt like I would be letting my kids down if I had this dream and never went after it. I want them to learn that they can go after dreams as well.”
When you spend a lot of time lost in the world of writing your own novels, is there any spare time left to read the work of others? It turns out Ben does have a few favourite authors up his sleeve whose books he enjoys to read.
“The big three for me would be, Ernest Hemingway because I like how clear he is with his writing, it’s very clear minded, just on a sentence level,” he said. “I really love Cormac McCarthy. Even though I didn't like his latest books as much, he is always extremely interesting. He has written some incredible books like The Road, No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses and Blood Meridian. He’s amazing. And then probably the third one, just to include someone from Australia, would probably be Richard Flanagan. The Narrow Road to the Deep North is just an amazing read.”
Ben has already started work on two other projects, but he’s letting them sit for a bit and enjoying some downtime before jumping back into the writing pit again.
“I’m taking a bit of time to sit with it and when I get to it, I’ll get to it,” he said. “But I've got some really exciting stuff cooking up. One is set in the world of YouTube and things like that, so we'll see if that pans out.”
For further information about Ben, his books or anything else he’s involved in, visit benhobson.net