An Interview with Barbara Bentley

1. In one paragraph, summarize your book, A Dance with the Devil, A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath.

The book traces my journey from victim to victor and educates the reader on the devious methods of psychopaths. I met retired Rear Admiral Perry at a friend’s home and was intrigued when he said he was the son of Admiral Perry from WWII Seabees fame. A fairy tale romance led to marriage and then, nine years later, to divorce after he tried to murder me by ether asphyxiation. I was shocked to find that my admiral was a con-man with an FBI record and then saddened to learn he was, in fact, the son of Admiral Perry. When I discovered that the California divorce law still allowed him, a convicted prisoner, to collect alimony and to get half of my retirement fund, I became enraged and vowed to change the sacrosanct law. I found a distinct voice, applied it to my vision to make a difference for others, and against all odds, I did it.

2. Give us the elevator version of your path to publication.

This is the pitch on a slow elevator going up to the top of the tallest building in the world. I had a passion to share my story to help others understand the crazymaking world of the psychopath and came up with the plan to write and publish a book. First, I learned to write by reading books, joining the International Women’s Writing Guild, and attending writing conferences. Second, I used patience and persistence as I balanced writing time with other significant life events. Fourteen years later I presented my manuscript to a professional editor. Third, I read more books to learn about the publishing business. With a polished manuscript in hand, I populated a list of agents, created a full proposal package, and submitted query letters. Through a contact I had made at a writing conference, I learned of a New York agent who was looking for a memoir and I also queried her. I made the ultimate mistake of a novice author…I forgot to include my telephone and email address! Fortunately the agent liked the query and had put it on her “follow-up” pile. Four months later I received my query letter back in the post with a handwritten note on the back asking for my manuscript…and my contact information. Three months later the agent sent me an email and asked to represent me. After some minor editing, she shopped the manuscript and it sold within three days to Berkley Books, an imprint of then Penguin USA.

3. Who are your favorite authors?

Maeve Binchy, John Grisham, Ken Follet

4. If you had to do anything over again when writing this book, what would it be?

I truly believe everything happens for a reason and in its own time. I wouldn’t change anything.

5. I imagine sharing your life in print took great courage, have negative reviews harmed your healing process?

Many people conclude that writing my book was cathartic, but my healing process took place way before I ever started putting pen to paper…or in the case of the modern world…text on a monitor. Writing the book was like putting together a gazillion puzzle pieces to come up with the complete picture. I felt like Sherlock Holmes. Fortunately I didn’t try smoking a pipe or wearing a funny hat. As far as negative reviews, I tend to ignore them. I will admit that the first couple that appeared on Amazon smarted, but then I realized that ignorant people were making judgments about me without having met me. There are a lot of sick people n the world who will find any venue to rant and rave and pontificate. I made a decision to ignore them and not allow them to suck up my energy. But I do chuckle and wonder how many may be psychopaths. Did I hit too close to home for their comfort level? And one thing an author must know….never engage with a negative reviewer. You’re not going to change their mind and you allow them to continue their platform at your emotional expense.

6. Getting a bill passed into law must have been tough, how did you figure out how to get it done?

Without realizing it, I used my four P’s….passion, planning, patience and persistence. When writing the book, I discovered that I have used these four P’s to accomplish many things in my life. The legal process started with writing letters to local state senators and assemblymen. One-and-a-half years later I sat in the office of Assemblyman Rainey and he agreed to carry my bill. Each step of the way from there on was a learning experience by experiment, taking advantage of situations as they arose. This time I did not read books. Now I hear from women who want to change a law and I provide a general template on my website.

7. If you could say one thing to a woman stuck in a dysfunctional marriage, what would it be?

Talk with someone you trust about your feelings. Do not keep things to yourself. If you have no one to trust, contact your local domestic violence shelter. By all means do not confront your abuser. Also know that the most dangerous time for a victim is when she decides to leave the relationship. It is imperative to create a safety plan before exiting. Do not tell your abuser what you are planning.

8. What are your writing strengths?

For how I like to write, my writing strength is organization. This came in handy when writing my first book and now with the research for my new novel.

9. Tell us about your television experiences.

My story has been part of four television series. In 2003 I appeared on the Erin Brockovich show “Final Justice” but did not meet her. In 2008 a producer from Dateline NBC contacted me and my story aired in June 2009. It shows repeatedly to this day on several stations in the U.S. and around the world. Several years later a Canadian production company filmed my story for their series “The Devil You Know.” The latest show I did was “Who the Bleep Did I Marry.”

10. What writing project are you working on now?

I self-published my second book “The Little Book of Success: Turn Your Dreams into Reality with Four Simple Tools.” It traces how I used the four P’s on four different quests in my life. It is a little book and did not fit into my publisher’s formats.

I currently am writing a novel based on the life of another strong woman…an aristocratic Anglo-Irish woman who exchanges silk ball gowns for rough wool uniforms, forsakes family and friends, becomes a leader in the Irish revolution and is the only woman sentenced to death for her part of the Easter Rising of 1916.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Barbara Bentley. To learn more visit her website http://www.adancewiththedevil.com where you can find links to her book’s Facebook page, and her Twitter page. You can also find links to purchase her books at Barnes and Noble, independent book stores, and at Amazon.com.

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2 Responses to An Interview with Barbara Bentley

  1. Judith Marshall says:

    Always good to learn more about a successful author. Thanks, Jill.

  2. Lynn Goodwin says:

    You’ve had an amazing journey, Barbara.

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