The Life of J.L. Benét
In horror writing it helps to be somewhat familiar with the some variety of horror. Jean-Loup Benet’s personal introduction came in the form of the small, northern Michigan town. To be honest, it wasn’t the town that was horrific but the need to somehow experience other horizons that lead Jean-Loup to the vistas of horror. John Bellairs and Stephen King were devoured alongside Doyle, Poe, and Asimov. It was this last author who sent the young thinker out into the world.
Jean-Loup attended the University of Michigan with the desire to see Asimov’s fiction become engineering reality. Majoring in both electrical and mechanical engineering, he discovered a horror too real even to be in a novel: the life of an engineering student. After three years of drinking hyper-caffeinated bad coffee, spending 20 hours a day coding and showering far less than desirable, Jean-Loup decided to be done with engineering before he was done in by engineering. It was onto the green lawns, historic markers and protesting hippies of U of M’s Central Campus.
Changing his major to English, he discovered a natural talent for teaching and enrolled in the College of Education. While engineering had never really dampened his love of the written word, the greater immersion in literature caused it to bubble to the surface with renewed vigor. He also discovered the terrible bias of academia toward the inferior realm known as genre fiction. This was the style of writing he enjoyed most and considered many genre authors to be as great of writers if not better than those taught within the ivy-covered walls.
For this reason, Jean-Loup chose to attend Seton Hill University for his Master’s. Obtaining a degree in Writing of Popular Fiction, also finished his first novel. While this novel is still trying to find a home at a publisher, other works of his have been published in both fiction and non fiction magazines, as well as an up-coming anthology. But as many writers lament, it’s not a well paying field.
The search for employment brought Jean-Loup full circle when he found a position as a middle and high school English teacher in the next town over from where he grew up. After working for a while in the fine arts school in northern Michigan, he decided to head south to warmer climes. He and his anthropologist wife (who is also a fantastically talented seamstress) currently reside in Tampa, Florida. Jean-Loup teaches creative writing and reading at a Tampa area high school, where he also acts as faculty advisor to the creative writing club. When not playing rugby or procrastinating on the internet, he complains about the lack of time and resources available to teachers and writers alike. In his office he has gargoyles, bats, ravens, and a foam Jack-o-Lantern which he leaves out all year and his wife puts a Santa hat on at Christmas.
-Courtesy of Erica Marks