Tormented while growing up for being dark-skinned, and the son of a womanizer who deserts his family regularly, Ken Ferguson always longed for that feeling of being loved. Ken promised himself that he wouldn't become the manipulating, deceitful man that his father was to his mother, but after being in several failed relationships, Ken is cheated on and dumped by Brianna, the girl he thought he would one day marry. Fueled by anger and tired of being that "nice guy" that always gets stepped on, Ken drowns himself in one night stands, threesomes, affairs with married women, and sleeping with one conquest after another.
Ken adopts the philosophy of having no commitment and no attachments. Through the course of the story, Ken applies this way of thinking to Heather, Denise, and Kristen. He uses his heartbreak with Brianna as a way to avoid being in a committed relationship and instills a false hope in them that he will eventually commit. Ken meets his match with Ashley, a girl that makes him want to stop his promiscuous ways. Ashley belittles him, teases him, and points out his flaw of not being financially stable. Ken is hurt and tries to change his life so that his flaws can never be thrown in his face again.
Motivated by Ashley to make more money, Ken gets the job of his life working for Def Jam Records and Lifetime Fitness as a personal trainer. Ken now has money, a condo, and an expensive car to show for, but it's still not enough. Ashley hurts him again by telling him that even with those things, she still doesn't want him. Ashley reinforces his logic and from that point on Ken spirals out of control. After opening his heart again and being hurt again, he becomes a monster. Sleeping with and mistreating random women he meets at bars and clubs, Ken uses sex to forget about his insecurities, his anger, and his sadness. Each new woman he touched gave him the feeling of having power and control. Even if only temporary, that feeling of euphoria that he got from pleasing them made him feel loved.
Ken hurts his friends by sleeping with Adam's ex-girlfriend, Ray's younger sister Kim, and by sleeping with his good friend Tiffani. His actions cause him to lose the people he value most. Ken's actions also damage the lives of the core group of women he slept with, causing life changing events to occur for Heather, Denise, and Kristen. Ken's manipulation causes Heather to attempt to commit suicide, Denise is raped at a party, and Kristen aborts Ken’s child. Ken is forced to face up to his past, which had fueled his behavior, face the hard truth about himself, and change his scandalous ways. He comes to the realization that while he has spent his life trying to be nothing like his father, he has transformed into the same monster his father is.
After losing his women, and his friends, Ken takes the time to heal and works on himself. While he is still working on healing, he meets Lynn, who is everything he wants in a woman. While it is difficult for her to accept his past, they begin a committed relationship. Although Ken is happy with Lynn, he is again tested by Ashley. Ken goes through trials and tribulations, but ultimately changes into the man he needs to be. Not naive like he was in the beginning of the novel, or monstrous like he was in the middle, but a gray. He becomes a decent man, showing that he can control himself, has will power, and is capable of being in a loyal committed relationship with Lynn. He learns the lesson that no action goes without consequence.
DP: When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
Ben: The first book that influenced me to be an author was Richard Wright's "Native Son." When I read that book in high school, I knew I wanted to write something that would have an impact on someone's life the way that book had an impact on mine. "Milk in my Coffee" was the first Eric Jerome Dickey book that I read, and he was the influential author that helped me to decide that I needed to become an author. Shel Silverstein once said "If there is a book you want to read but isn't written yet, write it." I believe in that statement, and writing a book has always been a goal of mine.
DP: How did you decide on the idea for your first book?
Ben: The message that I wanted to relay with my first novel "Monster" is that we have to be conscience of the actions we make because we don't know what type of affect they will have on other people, and that no action goes without consequence. The main character is based off of me and my life experiences. Some of the characters are inspired by people I have come across in life. My first published poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" is based on a lot of different people. Some of the poems are about me, or my friends, or just things that I have seen happening to other people. I feel if you can help tell a person's story, and gain an understanding of their thoughts and feelings, you can have a honest book that people can relate to and love.
DP: How long did it take you to write your first book?
Ben: I started writing my first poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" in high school and through college, and I published that book initially in 2008. I started writing my first novel "Monster" in 2010 and I completed it in 2012. My work schedule is extremely busy, so it takes me a while to complete my books.
DP: Did you self-publish or are you signed to a publishing company?
Ben: Right now I am currently self-published. My dream is to one day become traditionally published. I'm hoping for success with my first novel "Monster" because I want to be noticed so the message that I want to portray with the book can be spread worldwide. I feel that people can relate and learn from my book.
DP: How did you decide on the cover for your most recent book?
Ben: For my first novel "Monster" I wanted people to be drawn by the cover, and have a little understanding on what to expect by having those words on the cover. The main character isn't a literal monster, he is a figurative one and that’s the message I wanted to depict by having his shadow look like the devil. For my first published poetry book "Times have changed and Life is Strange," I used a butterfly because butterflies signify change. I also wanted the butterfly to resemble a Rorschach test, because I believe that people will view my work in different ways.
DP: Tell us about your writing style. Do you write on a schedule?
Ben: My goal when writing books is to have something for everyone to be able to relate to. I want my books to come off as real, gritty, raw, and straight forward because that's the type of world we live in. I don't sugar coat things in my writing. I don't write on a set schedule, by I try to write something every day. I usually write thoughts and ideas on a note pad or type them out on the writing app on my phone when I'm on the go.
DP: What makes your writing unique?
Ben: I feel what makes my writing unique is my straight forwardness; people can relate to my stories. I don't write about thugs and drugs; I write about subjects that we all face like being insecure, dysfunctional families ,relationships – basically things I feel we all go through, but people rarely go into detail about.
UBAWA: As a writer, what motivates you?
Ben: When I was in the 4th grade, my teacher told me I would never amount to anything. That has always stuck with me, and because of it I try to overachieve in everything. I started writing poetry back then, and I've continued to do so. I self-published a poetry book in 2008,and have had some success with it, but I want more. I feel I have something important to say. I feel that I can write about some of the ugliest and nastiest thing, and make them beautiful and artistic. I believe that my stories can change the world...well maybe not the entire world, but the world for those who read them.
Last week, I had five of my co-workers listening to me read what I had written so far in my most recent manuscript that I'm working on. The great sense of happiness and accomplishment I felt when they were so eager to hear what was happening in the story, and the joy I felt when they didn't want me to stop reading was incredible. I love seeing people enjoy the words that I have written. I love when people are moved by my poetry or novels. My goal is to be successful with this. To me, seeing my book in a store, seeing it on a best seller list, or just seeing it in a strangers hand in the street will bring me ultimate happiness and will make me feel that I have proved my 4th grade teacher wrong. Just seeing the message I want to share is being spread is what inspires me. My family, friends, and certain teachers/professors that I have had growing up are my biggest source of encouragement.
DP: How do you balance your writing and various responsibilities that come along with being an independent author?
Ben: My job is a very stressful one. Writing is my release. It helps me to deal with my stress by creating a world with characters that I can control. The key for me is time management. I take public transportation to work. When traveling to work, I read, write down ideas or thoughts, or write entire chapters. I'm a very sociable guy, so I often tell people about my books and stories to promote them. I believe in my work, so promoting it is easy.
DP: When you’re not writing what are you doing?
Ben: When I'm not writing, I'm spending time with my daughter, playing sports or working out. Most of my free time is spent with my daughter. She's my heart and one of the driving forces that makes me want to a successful writer. I want her to see that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and I want to set that example.
DP: What’s a typical day like for you?
Ben: I wake up at 5am to get ready for work. While traveling to work, I read different authors, or write for different projects that I'm working on. I get to work at around 8am and handle my police responsibilities. Being a Police Officer, you never know what can happen that day, so I come home at different hours often. When I travel back home, I read or work on my projects again. I work out for at least an hour and a half, and then I spend the rest of my time with my family.
DP: Tell us about your last book signing.
Ben: I haven't had the pleasure yet of having a major book signing event, but I always enjoy talking to the people who support me and enjoy my work.
DP: Do you have contests or giveaways?
Ben: I haven't had contests, but I have had giveaways. Sometimes I donate books to local libraries, or to people I really feel can benefit from my books.
DP: Many independent authors find it hard to get readers to buy their books. How did you handle the challenges that come along with being a first-time author in a competitive and ever-changing market?
Ben: I feel in order to sell anything, you have to believe in your product. I believe in what I'm selling because what I'm selling is me. I put my heart in soul in every word that I wrote in those books. I explain the premise, and try to spark their interest with a particular part of the book that I think they would benefit from. Often, when people see how passionate I am about what I have written they usually support me.
DP: What did you do on your 2nd book that you did not do in your first one?
Ben: My second book is a novel, while my first book was a poetry book. Poetry is great, but some people don't like poetry. I felt a novel would engage a bigger fan base and stronger message.
DP: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming author, what would it be?
Ben: I would suggest to hire a professional editor. Remember you get what you pay for, so spend the money you need to get a good one. I learned that lesson from my first book, and I have hired an editor for my novel.
DP: Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Ben: "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now. "Monster" should be available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, ibooks, nook, kindle, and Google market by early March 2013.