Kick off for the Reunion Book Tour! Guest post by Jeff Bennington and kindle giveaway info and entry.

Today we have Jeff Bennington here to kick off the Reunion Book Tour!  So give him a round of applause, and a warm welcome!

To begin with, I want to thank Candace for allowing me to be her guest. What an honor it is to introduce REUNION on day one of a 45-day blog tour. If Candace hasn’t already told you, I’m giving away 2 Kindles on May 15th: one to a lucky follower of the tour and one to a lucky tour host. You can get the details about the book, the tour, and the contest at jeffbennington.com. Good Luck.
The Story Behind the Story
Every novel has a beginning, and the story of REUNION was born out of pure wondering. I remember watching the news on April 20th 1999 and the days and weeks that followed, disturbed and shell-shocked at what had happened in Littleton, Colorado. I’d stared at my television, absolutely distraught, watching news helicopters flying overhead and the terrorized faces of the students as they wandered outside seeking and offering comfort. Do you remember that? Do you remember how you felt? Do you remember that cold, heavy feeling that fell from your chest, down into your gut, weighing your shoulders down like you were carrying the mass of the earth?
I do.
I felt sick.
And that’s where REUNION started. I began to wonder. I started to think about the survivors and what their lives would be like ten or twenty years later. I wondered what the long-term consequences would be. I wondered if they’d be able to cope, to live normal lives, to have normal relationships. I often thought about the immediate break (for lack of a better word) that they must have experienced as their lives, young and forward looking, changed in an instant – literally in a flash.
Those wonderings haunted me for years, reminding me again and again, after the other shootings, including those in my home states of Indiana and Ohio. Columbine wasn’t the first and there have been dozens after. Still, I don’t think we’ve grown numb to these atrocities and I hope we never do.
Fast forward to 2007 when I had decided to start taking writing seriously. The Virginia Tech shooting reminded me of that dark feeling, nurturing my questions, feeding my wonderings. Then in 2009, while writing Killing the Giants, my questions finally began to take root. David Ray, the killer and troubled teen in REUNION, started to develop, if only in my mind. From there, the story slowly began to unfold and the other characters grew out of the David Ray I had created with my imagination.
My wonderings started to stir the character driven stew boiling inside my head. Who were David’s victims? Why did he do it? What was his state of mind? Was he bullied? Who bullied him? What were the students doing the morning of the shooting? What were they thinking the day their lives were turned upside down? How did their futures deviate from that moment forward? Would the shy kid become courageous, because of an unquenchable thirst to overcome his fears? Would the independent goth become a co-dependent spouse? Would the pre-med bound student retreat into his fears, disabled by the lasting effects of the trauma?
My thoughts were extreme, and I assumed some, if not many, could move forward, stronger, wiser, and changed for the better. Nonetheless, these were the questions that ultimately fueled my passion for writing REUNION. After creating the character sketches for David Ray and the survivors, the plot came easily. I researched PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) so I could understand as best I could what the survivors have to live with.  I’m a 75% plotter and 25% pantster, so I filled my black book with notes and names and timelines and general goals for each chapter, but then I let the twists and turns happen in their own time as the characters lived out the tale according to their design, often surprising me with a new twist of fate.
REUNION is not only a novel about the dark, supernatural side of humanity; it’s a story about finding hope in horrific circumstances that appear hopeless. She is my second born as far as books go. I would practically die for her. She’s tender. She’s dark. She’s horrific. She’s full of hope and beauty, and frightening at the same time. So when you come to the end of the story, and you’ve recovered from the triumphantly chilling experience, I hope you feel the same way – hopeful that this is not all there is.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe and follow Candace’s Blog, and then follow the rest of the REUNION Blog Tour for more unique posts about the book, the characters, etc. Go to jeffbennington.com to learn more and to check out the tour schedule. Be sure to get your copy on April 15th to help thrust REUNION up the rankings by purchasing en masse. Peace. – Jeff Bennington
Jeff Bennington is the author of REUNION, a supernatural thriller, Killing the Giants, a political thriller and The Rumblin’, a short suspense. He lives in Central Indiana with his wife, four children and two stray cats.
Jeff grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, moved to Aurora, Ohio  in 78′ and finally settled in Central Indiana where he met his wife and graduated from Indiana University. He’s an occasional runner, life long drummer and household handyman. Over the years, he’s done everything from working on an assembly line, installing HVAC units, and teaching Sunday school, to running his own business. But through it all, he’s always loved to write.
In 2006, something finally clicked when he heard the call to begin writing novels – and write he did. Like many writers, he claims to have a book or two that the world may never read. His hope, however, that the ones you do read will be good, inspiring you to think about life in a way that perhaps you hadn’t before reading his work. Killing the Giants was his first novel, a political thriller, self-published in 2009. He went on to write REUNION, The Rumblin’, and then Act of Vengeance (coming late 2011), his third full-length novel and second supernatural thriller. He blogs weekly at The Writing Bomb, about the world of writing and indie publishing.

REUNION ISBN: 9780615450865

Release Date: April 15th and make sure you buy it April 15th so he can get a boost from major sales happening at once!

Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10467702-reunion (Reviews are up!)



To see the full tour schedule and topics, go to jeffbennington.com 

Kindle Giveaway Info

Contest Rules (per Jeff):
Guess what? I’m giving away Two (2) FREE Kindles on The REUNION Blog Tour!  One is specifically for the kind folks who host me on the tour. The other Kindle is for anyone who follows the tour and follows the contest rules. If you’d like to win a Kindle, all you have to do is…

#1. Buy REUNION and email your receipt to reunion.kindlegiveaway@yahoo.com by May 13th.

#2. Comment on one or more blogs on the REUNION Blog Tour.

I’ll video the drawing and have one of my children pick the winner. The video will be posted on my blog, The Writing Bomb on May 15th. Good luck!

Find out more and see the tour schedule HERE.

Thanks for subscribing!
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Comments

  1. Reunion sounds good. During your research, did you talk to survivors of these mass tragedies? How did you decide what characteristics to give your survivors?

  2. Hi She!
    I came in contact with one of the Columbine survivors through a mutual friend, after the book was complete. But I’ll tell you, these folks have been hounded to death by the media and are actually very difficult to get a hold of. I don’t blame them.

    I decided on the type of characters based on what I thought they’d be like and based upon my observations of the survivors in the media. But the truth is, people respond differently to trauma, because of a number factors, so I had a lot of freedom.

    I’d love to hear back from you regarding this question..Did I make the characters believable?…Are they as you expected?…Do you know a ptsd survivor like any of the characters in REUNION?
    Jeff

  3. Wow, REUNION sounds very emotional. I can only imagine what life is like for someone who survives a Columbine-like tragedy. I would think something like REUNION would be difficult to write because of the heavy subject matter, and a heavier read as well, but the supernatural twist probably lightens it a bit.

  4. Hi Julie…Hi Nikki!
    REUNION is emotional in a lot of ways. It’s emotional in a dark way before the shooting occurs, because of David Ray. And It’s emotional in the second half because the second part takes place twenty years later…when the residual pain continues.

    When I write, I very much feel the emotion and it pours out of me. I know I look stupid, but I often act out what I’m writing so I can put myself in the story. I cried several times while writing this book…especially at the end…I just can’t take the end.

  5. Hi Jeff,
    I certainly identify with how your book was born. On a beautiful spring day, I watched the Murrah building explode. I was sitting safely in my office four blocks away, but I felt our building shudder and watched the gigantic fireball. Heard the sirens, saw the helicopters, shell-shocked victims straggling through, and the heavy equipment moving in. Our guards wouldn’t let us go there. So, I seem to take all these tragedies personally and that pours into my writing. But, I also try to weave the positive and light into my books. I started writing seriously in 2007 and Scott is my editor. Anyway, I’m really rooting for you and am looking forward to reading Reunion. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thanks for asking, Jeff. I think writing helps me continue to find the joy and peace in life in spite of those tragic acts and experiences that don’t make sense.

  7. What an interesting concept. I always have had a special place in my heart for Columbine, and I am excited to have a book that addresses such a concept as the aftermath.

    When I was in high school, I was able to play in a band under Frank Ticheli, who actually wrote the Columbine memorial song The American Elegy. And I can say that after playing that song, watching the conductor tear up because of emotions, and singing the Columbine alma mater a Capella – it’s something that I will always remember. It was my small way to connect and remember such a tragedy.

    And how very interesting to know that the author was even able to talk to a survivor, even if it was after the book was complete. I can imagine that they would be bombarded with media, and I know I would rather move on and not have my life defined by such a tragedy.

    The book looks awesome, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for sharing the story behind this with us.

  8. Just purchased Reunion today, so I figured I may as well throw my name in the hat for a Kindle while I’m at it.

    Always interesting to read about how certain stories come about, though I tend to read this kind of stuff after I’ve read the book. :)

    Best of luck with its success.

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