UA professor writes novel on obligations, conflicts with family

Laura Testino

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The creation of something new doesn’t always start with having a definite end goal in mind, but instead choosing to begin the journey. More than 20 years ago, when Angela Benson, published author and associate professor of instructional technology at The University of Alabama, chose to change her flight destination for an extra $100, she began her writing career.

“I was on a business trip in New Jersey at the time,” Benson said. “And, for some reason I was in a bookstore. I can’t remember the specifics of why I was in that bookstore, but I remember seeing Romantic Times magazine on the counter. And there was something about a readers ‘and writers’ conference in Savannah, Georgia. And I really don’t know what made me think, ‘I’d really like to go to there.’”

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After attending the conference, Benson began devoting her Saturday mornings to composing her first novel, “Bands of Gold,” published in 1994. Twenty years later, she is publishing her 13th novel, “Delilah’s Daughters.” Benson may not write every Saturday morning now, but she follows the same writing method: She first creates the characters, then builds the story around these characters and a general plot line, she said.

Wanting to cultivate a fascinating plot, Benson’s style has evolved genres, beginning in African-American romance, transitioning to Christian romance and then moving to inspirational novels. Her most recent novel, “Delilah’s Daughters,” was published earlier this year by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Camille Collins, senior publicist for William Morrow, worked closely with Benson in the post-editing stages of the publication process.

“Each author is very unique, and that’s one of the fun things about the job, is that each person is unique in each story that they tell … Each one really is different because of the person writing it,” she said. “And so that always holds my interest, and in the case of [Benson] there’s no exception.”

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In “Delilah’s Daughters,” Benson addresses obligations to oneself and one’s family and what to do when these obligations may conflict. The resulting story includes three daughters who form a singing group, and their mother, Benson said.

“[I] wanted to do a family story, and I wanted the family to work together. And [music] seemed to me like a good thing for them to work at,” Benson said.

The plot line is comparable to “Dreamgirls” and the film “Sparkle,” Collins said. She said she believes this similarity makes Benson’s novel “familiar in a good way” but that Benson also offers her audiences a new experience.

“Each book, just like each work of art or each painting in a museum, touches each person differently,” Collins said. “And so I think it is great that this is similar to other things, yet different.”

“Delilah’s Daughters” is available in most bookstores and can also be found online.

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