Book Love: Benita: The Adventures Of Diva Secret Agent By L.B Bates
With summer freshly upon us, we’re picking out a few great characters and authors to introduce you to. This week we’re taking a dive into the life of Benita Renee Jenkins, a Brooklyn beautician turned secret agent and how she came to be. Author L.B. Bates has always had a zest for telling stories. As a young child, while children her age were playing with dolls, she was developing characters and writing short stories. As she got older, her love for writing only grew and we’re happy it did. Take a peak behind the scenes and learn more about Benita and Bates as we sit down to chat with the author.
Tell us how you got started with Benita, where did the concept and character come from?
I actually wrote the screenplay (La Femme Benita) which the book is based on while I was in film school. However, after the project was sitting around collecting dust for about five years, I decided that I wanted to revisit the story. The main character Benita Renee Jenkins grew up in Brooklyn. She is street savvy, but not necessarily from the streets. She is focused on creating a good life for herself, first as a hairstylist, then transitioning into a career in law enforcement. She is smart, witty, charming, loving, caring and is a third-degree Jui Jitsu expert. She plays by her own rules.
Are you originally from Brooklyn, why did that serve as the best setting?
I grew up on a farm in Virginia (Brookneal), and after finishing college, I moved to New York to pursue a writing career. First moving to Queens to be near my family, I eventually moved to Brooklyn where I instantly fell in love with the vibe. Way before Brooklyn was the “hot spot” to hang out, I observed the cast of characters residing throughout the borough. Brooklyn became the perfect setting for a young woman who was familiar with her surroundings, but grew up in a stable environment.
Who is your ideal audience?
“Benita” has an appeal for multi-generational and multi-ethnic readers, females 18-35. Males 25-34 are a great target since the content included in the book (government agency, martial arts, music, etc.) is male skewed. What’s interesting about this book is that I have been able to reach an older audience (grandmothers from 54-75).
What are some of the biggest themes in the book?
The main themes included in this book are: family, girl-power, love, determination, feminism, revenge, justice and fearlessness.
You mention one of the major themes is girl-power, did you do this purposely? And how important do you think “girl-power” is in today’s society ?
I think that “girl-power” is extremely important in today’s society, especially for young black women. I don’t think that young kids have enough positive images in the media, and I wanted to create a character that would serve as “the voice” of positivity.
What inspires you to write?
Whenever there is something that grabs my attention and affects my psyche, I have to put pen to paper. Over the years, I have written down many ideas, and I prioritize what is the most important to me. Overall, my desire is to inspire others with my writing.
What do you want readers to walk away with?
When you find yourself in a bad situation, there are always options at your disposal to get out of it. Despite a person’s past or circumstances, it doesn’t have to determine your future.
What’s next on the horizon for Benita? And for yourself?
There hasn’t been a black female superhero since the 1970s with Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. The Benita stories are limitless for the reader. This series is a start of a revolution. She provides readers with an “authentic voice” to urban life and her action adventures. As for me, I plan on writing more Benita stories as well as other strong female characters. Eventually, I plan on publishing other works through my publishing company Southern Girl Publishing.
What advice would you give other aspiring authors?
Follow your dreams and never let anyone stop you from creating your own success. Since you can’t please everyone, you should focus on making yourself happy (whatever that may be.)
Take a peek at the book trailer below.
Bates started her career in the entertainment business over a decade ago and her experiences include writing, producing, directing and editing for film. She has also written several plays focusing on family and relationships and they were a part of several play festivals throughout New York City, Detroit and Washington, D.C. She has finally found her calling… creating sexy and strong heroines like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones.
Want more? Grab Benita: The Adventures of a Diva Secret Agent here.