Thursday, 9 May 2019

Meet Our Members: Ben Dixon

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today interview is with Ben Dixon (aka Wolf McTavish)

Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from, Ben. 

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, I’ve pastored in several churches from NSW to Outback and North Queensland, but by far, my favourite job was in the Christian Bookselling industry. For over ten years I worked as a Bookshop Manager for a non-profit Christian book chain. You could say I married into it. When I moved to North Queensland to take up a position as a youth pastor I found the local Christian bookshop. There nice young lady who volunteered at this shop, and was also a member of my church, so it made visiting the shop all the more attractive.

After we married we were presented with two options, move out to a small outback mining town and continue as a pastor there or join the Christian mission as managers of a new book shop they were opening. We choose the latter. It was an interesting time. One of the things I loved about working for this small company was that there was a lot of job variety if you wanted it. I got to create several websites, train new staff and help set up shops in places like Mount Isa and Alice Springs.

By far my greatest achievement, and biggest challenge is parenting my four children and supporting my wife as she home schools them.

Tell us about your writing. What do you write and why?

Most of my writing can be described as non-fiction, I have a blog (and a YouTube channel) where I write about books, reading and why we should read. It focuses on science fiction mostly. I blog under the pen name Wolf McTavish.

I'm currently working on an adventure novel with a fantasy twist, along with a superhero novel, a non-fiction book for home schooling dads and two science fiction novels. I think I need to focus on one and get it finished.

When I was younger I tried my hand at writing a few science fiction stories. I presented them to my Grandfather to proofread and provide some feedback. He tore my stories to shreds and went to great detail describing how scientifically impossible my stories were. I know he meant well, but it did shake my confidence in writing.

Years later I discovered blogging, but as I looked around I noticed the internet was clogged with so many blogs already, some just waffly streams of conscious post that went nowhere. I decided that there was too much 'noise' on the internet already so why should I contribute to it as well. Then I read an article about how creating content (like writing a blog post) rather than consuming content passively is a far more rewarding use of your time and energy. It may be more difficult to do but this well eventually help you develop character. 

So, I decided instead of just reading books, I would review them. Rather than reading about books I would write about them. The other reason I decided to blog was for the experience. Recently my desire to write and publish some novels has been rekindled so part of my plan was to write more in order to improve my writing skill. 

We were all created in the image of God and have an innate desire to create as well. So in order to grow I believed we need to become creators, not for the recognition that might follow (even though that would be good), but for the sake of the process itself. My preferred way of creating is to write. 

Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

Most of my work can be read online, it’s free to view on various platforms: Blogger, Medium, Wattpad and YouTube. I’ll add the links below so you can take a look for yourselves. 

My novels, though, haven’t been read by anyone yet. The exception would be the Adventure Story with the fantasy twist. My father has read a few chapters and told me to blow something up and I’m currently getting feedback on the first chapter from the Omega Sci-fi / Fantasy chapter. 

My target audience for the novels would be a general audience, with maybe the exception of the superhero story which I’m trying to write for my children to enjoy. 

Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most? 

For my blog posts, I normally read a book or an article which starts me thinking about a certain topic. I’ll write down some ideas that I have, then read what others have to say about that topic and grab some quotes. I’ll them mash that together into article.


In regards to writing a novel this is my process so far:

· I come up with an idea and think about it for a while.

· Then start world building – basically I do a mind dump and write down everything about this universe: the characters, their backgrounds, the way the magic or tech works etc.

· Start drafting out a few chapters…

· Come up with another idea and start world building that universe.

· Get distracted by life, which gets in the way and give up for a few weeks before starting the cycle again.


My greatest challenge is completing a writing project. But I find that becoming part of a community of like-minded writers, CWD is a good example, provides the encouragement that I need, along with the opportunity to help others by sharing my knowledge and story to encourage them.

So hopefully you feel encouraged :)

Silence would help me the most, but trying to work from home with four children who don’t know the meaning of silence, is definitely a challenge.

What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I have two for this list: 

· Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline by Dean Wesley Smith 

· How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson 

I knew I wanted to write novels but I didn’t know where to start so I just kept reading more books on the craft of writing. In the introduction of Writing into the Dark, Dean Wesley Smith says he wanted to motivate writers to write and not be bogged down or scared by preconceived ideas of how you should write. It certainly helped me. After reading all those other books on the craft this was the one that really motivated me to start writing and stop being scared of starting. 

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method was another book that I found really helpful. He claims that his snowflake method will work for people who plot, those who write without an outline and those in between. But the line that really stood out to me what this one: “You’re going to get lots of advice on how to write a novel. But that’s all it is. Advice. If you don’t like that advice, if it doesn’t work for you, then ignore it. If it does work for you, then run with it.” 

If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

That would be Adam Collings and Jeanette O'Hagan. Adam introduced me to this group and the Omega writers group and both Adam and Jenny have made me feel welcome within the group.

Also they both write the type of genre l love to read, science fiction and fantasy. I can't say how much I enjoyed reading Adam’s Jewel of the Stars novels and would recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction. I was privileged to beta read book two in this series and can say that both stories are better than a lot of the newer science fiction novels I've read over the last few years.

I've just started reading and enjoying Jenny's Heart of the Mountain fantasy series too. What I also like about both of these authors is the way they’re able to subtly weave in ideas about Christianity and their faith without breaking the reader out of the story. This is something I'm still working on with my writing. 

What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

I have an ambitious goal of completing and publishing two books by the end of this year. That was my goal last year but I ended up helping my wife publish a nature journal. (Still a win!) 

I believe the first and most important step to achieving this year’s goal is to finish a first draft of at least one of my projects.

(Could place image BenHeatherNatureJournal.JPG here with following link  Ben and Heather with the One Year Nature Journal. Click on link to find out more and purchase in Australia.) 

How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian from an early age so I view everything that happens through a Gospel worldview and hopefully my writing and videos reflect that too. I’ve read some really good science fiction and fantasy novels which teach scientific principles or discuss philosophical and religious ideas as its part of the storyline in a way that seems natural. A good example of this, despite its name is Amish Vampires in Space which juxtaposes Amish, Christian and Secular beliefs, discusses each in detail and keeps the tension of the story going at the same time. It’s well worth the read. (See Adam Collings YouTube review for more detail)

This is what I want to do with in my novels, write them from a Gospel worldview and be able to have the characters discuss ideas like redemption or show these ideas through their actions without ‘taking the reader out of the story’ because it’s to cheesy or seems forced. This is something I’m struggling with but want to accomplish especially if I’m aiming at the general market.


Ben Dixon spends his days taking photos of his beard and dog to post on his Instagram page, while his wife, Heather home school's their 3 children.

He is also on a quest for a good book. While Science Fiction is his favourite genre to escape to, he also enjoy Fantasy and Detective Fiction. In the non-fiction section he likes to read Theology, History and Leadership books.

This quest is never ending as there are always more good books to read.

You can read Ben Dixon aka Wolf McTavish's work at:

BloggerYouTube |  Wattpad | Meduim | Facebook | Twitter 


  1. Hi Ben. I loved reading about your passion for books and your goals to write. Balancing family life with creative goals does present its share of challenges - then again, our rich and exciting (or mundane and normal) family life can just as easily fuel our passions and reasons for writing too. It sounds like you've been doing life in inspiring places and you're ready to key into the vast universe of ideas in order to set forth the most important ones. All the best with your writing and publishing goals.

  2. Hi Ben. I enjoyed reading your interview. Fun fact - the Crusade Bookshop in Mt Isa (which operated for at least thirty years, maybe longer) started in our lounge room. Dad was manager from 1974-1983, & both Dad and Mum were involved in running the shop in the early days.

    Thanks for the shout-out. I'm intrigued by 'Whiting in the Dark'. I also enjoyed Stephen King's On Writing and Stephen James' Story Trumps Struture which are great restores for pansters.

    Looking forward to reading more of your writing. All the best for getting one (or more) of your projects finished.

  3. Hi Ben, the scope and variety of your projects are great. I also love and relate to your feelings about how writing content such as reviews and blog posts in a seemingly saturated world helps feed our souls. Thanks for your encouragement to all of us to keep on keeping on.