Name: Benjamin Smith
Publisher: Charles Towne Publishing in Charleston
Residence: Lifelong Beaufortonian
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Where to buy: Beaufort Bookstore, McIntosh Book Shoppe in Beaufort and Nuances in Port Royal; online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Plot summary in 50 words or less: Danny Gentry, a Lowcountry writer struggling with inner demons, receives word that the mother of his children is dead. As his best friend campaigns for president, Danny must uncover the conspiracy behind her murder and a plot to disrupt the election.
First sentence: "There was a calypso band playing in Waterfront Park the night I found out Susan Cobbler was dead."
Story behind the title: For many, life becomes a carousel. "A carousel goes round and round without really going anywhere. The ride is different for everyone. You may never really know what's going on the other side, what stories or secrets are hidden," he said.
Previous experience: "Carousel" is Smith's first published novel. Smith originally started as a stringer for The Beaufort Gazette as a teenager and spent 17 years in the radio business. He now freelances and ghost writes.
What prompted the novel: Though their relationship had rough patches, Smith grew close with his father in the years before his death in 2010. One day his father told him, "You're not happy." Smith realized it was true. He wanted to write again. The prompting from his father inspired him to get to work again.
Writer's quirk: He used speech-recognition software to write all of his dialogue. He spoke into the program and it typed it for him. "(Beaufortonians) have a particular way of speaking," he said. "I wanted that to come across in the dialogue."
Early influences: Pat Conroy. "Great Santini" was the first book he read for the fun of it. He has read "Beach Music" seven or so times. "(Conroy) wrote the perfect portrait of Lowcountry family dysfunction in 'Beach Music.' "
Favorite bedtime reading: Tom Clancy. "He's fantastic at making technical things easy to understand," Smith.
Why he set "Carousel" in Beaufort: "I'm biased, but there's no other place quite like Beaufort," he said. "The old and the new. You have so many cultures mixed together on these islands. And it just works."