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Guest Blog Post by Author Ben Starling

I would like to introduce my guest for this month's blog, Author Ben Starling. Like many of my author guests, I met Ben through social media. Ben has published a novella Something in the Air and his debut novel, Something in the Water. I have read his novel and found it to be an enjoyable read and you can read my review on Amazon or Goodreads.

When Ben Met Sally

I meant to write a post entitled Writing Spaces I Have Loved and Roamed. But as I wrote things changed. Today, I got led off in a new direction.

The thing is, I have many writing spaces: one is at my desk, and all the others are in the shining places I find as I walk out the twists and turns in my next plot. I pass canals and dogs, flower-bowered London paths, red buses and street markets. One day a few years ago, with the inevitability of a midday caffeine low, my steps led me to a beloved coffee shop.

And inside, I met Sally.

Sally is a four foot ten inch octogenarian who moves with the speed of sunlight. She’s also a feminist pioneer who moved to Hong Kong in the sixties to pursue a career, and seemed to leave no industry unexplored. Sally has worked as a hotelier in Hong Kong, opened cafes in Sudan, and was executive assistant to a Greek shipping billionaire in London. Rumor has it she may even have been a spy.

When I meet Sally at our coffee shop, she is always mid-way between events with friends: dashing in for a quick cappuccino after brunch, before bolting off to afternoon tea with her latest septuagenarian paramour. And for a moment, in our coffee shop, I get her full attention.

Sally is a storyteller extraordinaire. She’s got the content nailed down, but the way she brings her adventures to life is what keeps me rapt. She sinks into the comfy upholstered chair by the window each time we meet, and snaps open her handbag

On the low oak table between us, she lays out paper strips blaring newspaper headlines and tales of acquaintances past, sepia-edged photos, cards from fabulous memorials she’s recently attended, a bit of bright material, a keepsake. And then she begins to speak.

If you saw Rose begin her tale in the movie Titanic, then you’ll know how I feel when Sally begins.

When her story of the day is done, Sally knocks back the last of her coffee, levitates like dandelion fluff on an updraft, and powers off to her next appointment.

I rise more slowly, like a scuba diver changing worlds, and then continue on my way.

My stories are nothing like Sally’s: they are set in different times, different places and deal with very different genres and themes. But when I get home to my writing desk, I find my plot snarls have unfurled and everything just flows, the way it should have in the first place.

I look out my office window, over the slate roofs of London, and know that I have learned more than just history from my friend. I have learned about oral narrative and structure: I have learned about bringing a story to life.

Because my friend Sally is a Grand Master in the art of telling a tale.


Ben Starling is passionate about gender equality, marine conservation and boxing, all central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He boxed competitively until recently and continues to coach. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine]

Something in the Water, by Ben Starling,

is available now at Amazon.

You can read the first chapter here.


Thank you, Ben for this great post!

You can find Ben Starling at the following links:

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