Interview with Author Olivia J. Bennett

 Hello readers, 


Thank you for joining me on my blog today! Today's post is a special interview with indie author Olivia J. Bennett who is the author of two young adult contemporary books, each with different hints from other genres. Olivia's first book A Cactus in the Valley came out in 2017. Her upcoming release Casually Homicidal is due to come out on MAY 20th!!! Today's interview covers many things including an introduction to the author (if you've never met her online or off), news about her books, and a look into her writing process and overall journey as an author. 


Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out her books. I haven't read Casually Homicidal yet, but I am very much looking forward to it. (So if you're looking to buddy read it with anyone, I'm your gal.) 






Find Olivia's first book on Amazon and Goodreads  


Casually Homicidal by [Olivia Bennett]


Find Olivia's upcoming release on Amazon and Goodreads




1. Hi Olivia! Thank you for talking with me about you and your books today. Let's start with getting to know you a little better. What makes YOU Olivia J. Bennett? 

That’s a good question. Suddenly I’ve forgotten everything about myself! Honestly, though I do try to bring honesty to everything that I do and everything that I am. For better or for worse, I’m not going to sugarcoat anything and I’m going to tell it like I see it. To some, that might be off-putting but I think it allows a certain authenticity, particularly in my written work.


 2. Your first book, A Cactus in the Valley was published in 2017. Since then, you have grown a lot as a person and a writer. What would you say is the key difference between who you were as an author when you wrote ACITV and who you are now as the author of Casually Homicidal? 

I think all of my books encapsulate who I was at the time that I wrote them. I’m not even the same person I was when I wrote Casually Homicidal! But I think the key difference is that I’m a lot less religious now than I was when I wrote A Cactus In the Valley. I wouldn’t say that ACITV is religious fiction by any means, but there’s definitely that element of Christianity that sort of “saves” the main characters in there. I deliberately left religion out of Casually Homicidal partially because it’s not relevant to the plot, and I wanted it to appeal to a wider audience. 


3. The title, Casually Homicidal is enough of a selling point for me. It's such an intriguing title. How did you come up with it? 

I get asked that a lot! I made a short video about this on my Instagram, but the gist of it is that, when this story was in its conception, I had the characters of Hendrix and Arden in my head. They were having this conversation together where Hendrix is telling Arden all of the horrible, awful, sociopathic things that he thinks about and has done, and Arden just gives him this look and says, “So, you’re telling me that you’re homicidal?” And Hendrix just shrugs and says, “Yeah, just, you know . . . casually.” While that interaction doesn’t take place within the book, it was the energy that these two characters shared that sparked the inspiration for the title.


4. As writers, we have love/hate relationships with our books. What is something you loved about writing Casually Homicidal and what is something that you struggled with? 

More than anything, I had a damn good time writing this book. It was just pure fun for me, and it was so engaging and consumed my whole personality for a while. I love Hendrix and Arden, they’re my children of sorts, and cultivating the vibes for this story through music, images and words was also so fun. However, since this will be my second published work, I was able to take the feedback I got from A Cactus In the Valley and let it inform my process of editing Casually Homicidal. Integrating meaningful themes in a way that was cohesive was a challenge, and Chapters 10 and 24 gave me consistent problems in every draft.


5. One of the things I love the most about following you is that you document every step of your writing process. It makes me, as a reader, feel even more engaged with the story before reading it. What are you most excited for readers to experience when they can finally pick up your sophomore novel? 

First of all, I’m glad to hear you say that! Writing can be such a meditative and isolating practice, and I share what I can to be transparent and find community with others. I’d say the thing I’m most excited for readers to experience is the transformation that Hendrix and Arden go through in Casually Homicidal. There’s this undercurrent of tension that runs throughout the whole book, and I think it’s really satisfying when all of the conflict and themes come to a head right at the end. 


6. One of my favorite things about your writing is how atmospheric the settings are. It makes me feel as though I am right there in the story. How important is the setting to you and how do you go about creating it? 

I think that aside from real, engaging characters, the setting is the most important part of the story because it pulls you in and makes you feel like you’re right there with them, like you said. Atmosphere is so much more than just description of the setting, though. It adds to the mood of the story and develops the themes, and tells the reader what to focus on, kind of like cinematography. I try to employ this in my books through visceral, specific descriptions placed at opportune times throughout the text. The most cliche example is that when it’s rainy or overcast, the scene is solemn or sad. 


7. Can you tell us how Casually Homicidal started? What did those early seeds of inspiration look like? 

If I’m being completely honest, the seed that started the growth of this book came from the Netflix/Channel 4 tv show, The End of the F***ing World. I binged the first season right when it came out, and was unfortunately a little disappointed in the ending, so I thought to myself, I could write that better. It was never fanfiction, though, and as the story progressed, the two stories diverged and only share similarities in initial concept and vibes. I also took inspiration from my own life, of course, as I wrote this novel as a senior in high school and a freshman in college, capitalizing off of the existential precipice that most of us find ourselves teetering on in the stage between child/teenager and adult.


8. Of all the characters you have written so far, who do you relate to the most? And the least?

Arden Campbell for sure. She’s the female protagonist of Casually Homicidal. She’s an Enneagram Four, just like me, and many readers have also found her the most relatable. She’s got this open-wound sort of rawness and vulnerability that I think deep down, a lot of us feel ourselves. She’s also got a zest for life and beauty and connection, a trait that makes us uniquely human.


9. Other than writing, what are some of your other creative interests? 

I’ve been a visual artist longer than I’ve been a writer, although I think that writing is still where my greatest strengths lie. 2-D art like painting, photography, drawing have always been my favorite mediums. I’m also an avid baker and cook, which is just edible creativity! 


10. If you had to write one kind of story for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Probably contemporary, but I guess it’s hard to say since my first two books have been variations of YA Contemporary (ACITV being survival YA fiction and Casually Homicidal blending contemporary with elements of suspense/horror fiction). Currently, I’m writing a post-apocalyptic novel, so that’s probably another genre I could write forever. 


11. Is there anything else you would like new and old readers alike to know? 

Just like ACITV, Casually Homicidal is not for the faint of heart. On the back cover, I’ve given Casually Homicidal a 14+ rating, similar to TV-14 for Language and Violence. However, please don’t let that scare you off. I think Casually Homicidal has a lot more heart and meaning than my previous works. 




Where to find Olivia: