Interviewing... Erin Fry! 


What's your definition of success? That is a rhetorical question because success could mean many things in the eyes of many people. But according to Erin Fry, author of The Benefactor, you must be loyal, passionate, diligent, resourceful, and you must be able to lead. I haven't had the pleasure to interview many authors ,but I am especially thankful to Erin Fry for answering all my questions! So without further ado, please enjoy these wonderful interview questions answered by Erin Fry.

1.       For anyone who hasn't read The Benefactor, why would you (the author) recommend it? What makes your story so unique?

THE BENEFACTOR is, first and foremost, meant to be a fun story about eight teenagers on a reality show. I think the idea of getting to see a T.V. show unfold from the “inside” is something that readers, especially teen readers, could find pretty cool. I know I had a blast creating it!

But I also hope this book gets readers to look at how our society defines success.  There is a lot of emphasis placed on college---and, being a teacher myself, while I am a firm believer in a college education, I also think we need to step back a little and see the pressure we are placing on our young people.  Hours of tests and essays. All sorts of decisions being made from eighth grade on (maybe sooner) for the sole purpose of “getting into a good college.”  I think The Benefactor tries to challenge the long-held belief that kids who get As or do well on SATs are automatically going to be successful. That was an interesting topic for me to delve into in this book.

2.      Thinking of challenges to test certain qualities isn't something that is easy for everyone. How did you manage to create such thought-provoking and tricky challenges?

Thank you for thinking they were thought-provoking!  The ideas for some of them came really easily.  The Disneyland challenge at the beginning, for example. I knew I wanted the kids to have to try to get into Disneyland without a ticket.  But others were harder for me to design  and I had to ask for help.  I asked my son, who is a senior in high school and he had great ideas.  It was his idea to do the challenge where the contestants had to track down an SNL star.  And then I called my brother and said, “Can this be done?” Within five minutes, he had emailed me back with an address where I could meet up with an actor from that show if I wanted to.  That’s when I knew it had to be a challenge.  In the end, it was one of the best parts of writing this book---creating challenges that would test certain skills and attributes but also be fun to read about.

3.       Do you ever base your characters off of people that are vital in your life (ex/ family members, friends, fellow authors)?

I usually do, though not many in this book.  The Benefactor gets his real name from my oldest son’s best friend.  And Allyson is my niece.  Hiroshi was modeled after a friend’s son.  Sam had a little of my oldest son in him. For most of these characters, though, I found that I wasn’t so much modeling them after people in my life as creating people I needed them to be for the book. I did, however, spend a lot of time before I started writing Googling images and trying to find ones that matched each of the characters in my mind.  I have them all in a PowerPoint file and it’s fun to look at them now and then.

4.      You are currently holding an essay contest based on your novel. Do you have any advice or some pointers you would like to extend to the participants?

Start with a quality that you believe defines success. You might choose determination, leadership, ingenuity, teamwork, humility, etc. Then, start brainstorming different tasks that would highlight this quality.  If you think teamwork is important, you've got to have a challenge that would force a contestant to work as a team or fail.  If you think ingenuity is important, then your challenge better require contestants to create something.  Then, have fun. Imagine there is no budget, and that you have no limitations.  What would be crazy to see people on a reality show do?

5.      What is your opinion on the current college admissions process?

Like a lot of things, I think there are parts that work and parts that are probably outdated.  We certainly need a definitive process of selecting students who are qualified and ready for higher education.  However, the process has become SO competitive and in some cases, SO selective, that amazingly talented, creative, bright kids are getting eliminated from good schools because they are maybe lacking one or two qualifications. The pressure on today’s teenagers is intense---too intense, I think---and I’d love to see us all find a way to alleviate some of that.  And, of course, though this is another topic entirely, college has become so expensive it’s hard for many families to afford it at all.   I think that’s one reason I had so much fun dreaming up the concept of THE BENEFACTOR.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a guy out there who might dole out a full scholarship to a lucky senior? Who knows? Maybe there is. 

After having this brief interview with Erin Fry, I hope that the world has come to realize how unfair something such as, let's says, a college admission can be. There is more to success than getting all A's and acing every test! There are just some qualities that cannot be measured by how well you score. The Benefactor by Erin Fry has enlightened me with an action-packed story of the truth of success. 

Erin Fry is currently holding an essay contest for The Benefactor. 

Grand prize winner: $200 Amazon gift card 
1st place winner: New Kindle Paperwhite
Grand, 1st, and 2nd: signed copy of the book
For more details: Click here!

If you haven't already, check out my review of The BenefactorClick here!
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