An Interview with David Benedictus

Our Prose Editors, Nathalia Baum and John S. Osler III, interviewed David Benedictus. David Benedictus is an accomplished writer with many publications to his credit. In this interview, he talks about his work and shares advice for young writers. 

  1. One of your books, You’re a Big Boy Now, was brought to celluloid by Francis Ford Coppola.  What was it like to see your story adapted and reimagined by someone else?

It was astonishing to have a film made out of my second novel. But Coppola was unknown and much the same age as I was so I didn’t expect anything to happen. I spent the summer with the film people in the streets of New York. I thought my novel was much darker than the movie but Francis said he wanted to make something cheerful.

  1. The Fourth of June was banned for its depiction of bullying and violence. If you could do it over again, would you have changed it before publishing, or do you suppose the work’s honesty is more important than its reach?

The novel wasn’t banned – except at the school bookshop and the (modest) scandal attaching to it was great fun.

  1. What’s the most interesting project you’ve ever had to abandon?

All my life I have had projects that have never quite made it. I started writing The Happy Hypocrite, a musical based on a story by Max Beerbohm, in 1953, and I’m still awaiting a full production. Also I have been promoting a TV series based on Amnesty International case stories for many years and it hasn’t happened yet.

  1. You seem to be pretty interested in new additions to classic stories, seeing as one of your more famous books is Return to the Hundred Acre Woods and your story that’s about to be featured in Inklette is  Alice in Wonderland. What draws you to expand on other people’s stories and how do you continue that narrative?

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is a collection of short stories. I just liked the idea of more stories about Pooh and his friends. Ditto Alice, but that proved much more difficult and remains unfinished.

  1. Going off of that, a lot of young writers start out with fan fiction these days. What do you think of this practice? Do you think adding onto out with other stories is a good place for new writers to start?

Not really. Be original.

  1. What was your own writing journey like? To what do you attribute your lifelong success?

Lifelong success? Huh. I’ve had my share of failures, but some of them turned out OK.

  1. Overall, what tips would you give to young and emerging writers?

Take risks. Write to please yourself. Don’t be discouraged. Work to a routine. 

David Benedictus’ work includes Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009), an autobiography titled Dropping Names (2005), The Fourth of June (1962) and You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) that was made into a film by Francis Ford Coppola. David Benedictus was educated at Eton College, University of Oxford and the University of Iowa. He has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Radio. He currently lives in Hove.