Irene Bennett ICL Published Grad

Irene Bennett

Published Work: Battle of the Artisans: Making the Bells of Marquis Yi

Irene is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. View Course Catalog >


Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW published graduates. Today we are celebrating Irene Bennett! Irene is a graduate of the ICL Writing for Magazines course. Let’s learn more about her book Battle of the Artisans: Make the Bells of Marquis Yi.

BATTLE OF THE ARTISANS: Making the Bells of Marquis Yi by Irene Bennett What are the names of your book?

Battle of the Artisans: Making the Bells of Marquis Yi

published by Proverse Hong Kong

Give us a short summary of your work.

In BATTLE OF THE ARTISANS, Tangtun, a conflicted, artistic twelve-year-old in 5th-century BCE China, sets out to save his macho father from a killer. He crosses wits with a vengeful king, armed thieves, and disgruntled villagers to discover new powers that rock his Bronze Age world. While creating the Bells of Marquis Yi, now a National Treasure of China, what matters most is not Tangtun’s artistic abilities or his father’s muscles and might but their realizing the strength of acting together.

With this story of Tangtun and his village on the Yangtze River, Bennett provides the first well-researched and persuasive solution to the mystery of who and why these world-renowned bells were made.

Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to to submission to publication.

A chance encounter with a book in the Hong Kong Central Library, SUSPENDED MUSIC by Lothar von Falkenhausen, introduced me to a Bronze Age Chinese tomb filled with musical instruments, including the two-toned Bells of Marquis Yi. Intrigued, I began to study the tomb and the historical period. Then one day I read the sentence, “No one knows who made these bells nor why,” and I thought, I do!

So beginning with the ending, I built the story, sharing many drafts with critique groups and Chinese friends in Hong Kong. After several rejections by publishers, I submitted my story to the International Proverse Prize competition—and won! Hence, it’s publication in November 2023.

How long have you been writing?

Two teachers first called me a writer after reading my 12-year-old book reviews, but I didn’t pursue writing professionally until my late twenties, when I began writing articles for religious newspapers and leadership magazines as well as curriculum materials, including videos and chapters in two books. Later I’ve published essays and poems, but BATTLE OF THE ARTISANS is my debut historical novel for teens and young adults.

What’s your favorite genre to write and why?

I love connecting art and life, so my favorite genre is memoir! But, truthfully I am never without a story or 2 or 3 in my head.

Irene Bennett PhotoWhich ICL or IFW courses have you taken?

Writing for Magazines

How has taking our courses helped your writing and/or career?

The first lesson convinced me I could create a story with only a picture as a prompt, that I could write a story, decide it had an implausible ending I could delete and rewrite, AND that I could begin a novel my teacher thought  it so marketable that she sent me a list of potential publishers to contact! My one ICL course empowered me to create fiction, and I will be forever grateful.

Have any of your class assignments been published?

The idea for this my first novel was submitted as the last assignment in the ICL Writing Course, Magazine Writing for Children, with Teri Martin and Jan Fields, instructors.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?

Trust that readers are out there who will like your voice, so submit, submit, and re-submit!

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, what would it be?

I would go back to that course I took in 2005-6 and say to myself, “Listen to your instructor. Submit this book proposal now!”

Is a writing ever finished or perfect?

No, but let it go sooner rather than later!

What’s the most valuable thing you learned from your experience with the Institute of Children’s Literature and Institute for Writers?

The course did two valuable things for me:
1) the positive reinforcement from two experienced authors taught me how to encourage beginning writers, and
2) it made me believe I could write publishable fiction.

From her first sharpened pencil to her latest computer, Irene Bennett loves writing. A Louisiana native with degrees in education, this “people person” regales her family and friends with stories in real time, while writing curriculum and books, editing academic and theological writing, and teaching in America, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Irene now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and works in Washington DC where story ideas abound!

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1000 N. West Street #1200, Wilmington, DE 19801

© 2024 Direct Learning Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 

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