About Me

Chinese fishermen play an important role in The Queen of the Pánuco

Dear Reader,

I live here in Guanajuato, Mexico, an ancient mining capital, at 7,000 feet, high desert, on the western-facing slope of the canyon, 203 steps up from the bottom.
You can find Guanajuato on the map by laying a ruler between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, and then extending the line eastward, until you arrive at the center of the country.

Guanajuato is a lovely old colonial city, with a good university and a very good symphony orchestra. It is a fine place to learn Spanish and other languages. It is the home of the three-week long Festival Cervantino, with performing artists from all over the world. It is a small walking city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can learn more about me as a writer by going to “About My Stories” on this blog. My essay “My Friend Tonio Kröger” talks about writing and being a writer. On the sidebar, on the right, you can pull down my finalist short stories for the 2011 Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award.

Most of my stories are written here in Mexico; before that, there are stories written during my life in California.

Mexico has a way of bringing out the writer (and the painter). I think of Gary Paul Nabhan’s book The Desert Smells Like Rain (highly recommended) as the metaphor for my own sprouting.

I encourage you to read my novel Playing for Pancho Villa,  a story about a young mining engineer (based on my own grandfather) who at the age of twenty-eight and suffering from mercury poisoning—hence lacking judgment—wanders down into the Mexican Revolution in 1916 and becomes an adversary, but not the enemy, of Pancho Villa, who in the end helps him out of a hopeless situation.

It is a passionate tale of deserts, guns, horses and love, in the flavor of John Reed’s Insurgent Mexico. I think you will like it, if you like my stories.

Comandante Ibarra, my second novel, Montezuma Books 2015, is about a National Rural Policeman in 1899 who, after a mild stroke, begins to think that the Mexican Constitution of 1857, and all the rights therein contained, should apply as well to the Yaqui Indians, whom the Mexican Government is intent on wiping out. This, of course, lands him in big trouble.

And don’t forget to try out the Biff story (translated into French, Spanish, and Dutch) on your child, grandchild, great-grandchildren, or—with the proper authorities’ permission—on young students, and tell me how it went. I wrote “Biff and the Sinking Coal Freighter” for my 5-year old grandchild.

28 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Dear Sterling,
    In a moment of nostalgia while wondering what happened to you and your family, I searched on your name and found this site. I was a student of yours at SSU in the early 70’s. You were kind enough to allow my menagerie of dog and goats stay with your family for a brief while. Yours was one of the few classes I remember enjoying during those years living in Sonoma. Congratulations on your second career as a writer and will look forward to getting to know you again through your stories.
    With best wishes,
    Cynthia (Pastor) Peikoff

  2. Hello Sterling, I have stumbled across you in the most random way possible. I write to you from Brisbane, Australia. I have been researching old photographs of Soldaderas and young Mexican women for album art work to accompany a fictional Spaghetti-mex-Western album that I have been creating between Mexico City band Twin Tones for nearly 4 years. A photo of a young Purepecha woman caught my eye on Pinterest (from your blog) and later became the main heroine of the story. I am most keen to find out who she was…but now I discover you are an author! que milagro! I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Abbie Cardwell (email: info@abbiecardwell.com) Official music site : http://www.abbiecardwell.com

    1. Hi, Abbie,
      I’ve been traveling and am only getting back to you now. I don’t know anything more about the photo. I have always thought it was a slightly more middle class woman posing in a more indigenous costume. If you notice, some of the necklace is painted on top of the photo. Best Wishes, Sterling

  3. Sterling
    I was in many of your classes as SSU and have gone way on write as well. Wanted to make sure you knew that Dr Richard Paul passed away in August of 2015. Also Dr D three months before stayed in close contact with him all these years. Tears for the fallen!

    One of my dearest friends is the sister of Richard Rodriguez author of Hunger of Memory and other books. Found you in google search and on FB shocking as Richard did so much and to die from Parkinson’s disease., with such a brilliant mind, glad you are writing.

    Hope you are well don’t know how this works or of it will get to you but sending it anyway, ride dressage stallions now and dance with magnificent horses among many other things, run a company, started environmental non profit, happy with my mate and life hope you are, blessings in Mexico Pamela M Bailey

    1. Hi, Pamela! May not have replied till right now. Sorry. Much distraction. I took one of Richard’s CT classes and enjoyed it very much. Sorry he’s gone. Abrazos from Mexico.

      1. Good to see you writing prolifically and he is gone shocking really Dr Diamandopoulis three months earlier glad you are in Mexivo my best friend is Helen Rodriguez, sister if Richard Rodriguez who authored Hunger of Memory, Convetsations with my father, and most recently Darling. She loved your short stories. Life is precious, you writing makes me happy.

        All best

          1. I run a company, Zeatro, I write poetry and stories about horses..some published..I ride dressage and have two dressage stallions, run an environmental Non-profit, attended the Earth Summit in Rio with 105 world leaders and saw history in the making, not the Agenda 21 I see today, and love like crazy, with a wonderful partner, he is brilliant and compassionate, and try to stay out of the incredible fray of politics here. Was such a shock to read of Richard Paul’s death and his partner wrote me, just to many great minds passing, you stay well and healthy, will read your story, sorry for the typos but was on little keyboard, now big one, will read your book,sounds wonderful, love your short stories, you have such a creative mind and way with prose…..glad I found a way to communicate with you. I found you on Facebook but I use Mark’s but may friend you. You life seems very rich and full, that is so so good and you look wonderful and healthy. Pamela

          2. Dear Sterling:

            Not sure my response went through. Sent it yesterday but it did not post yet. If duplicate please delete this one. Happy to see you writing rich prose and so prolifically. I write also a lot of poetry, story or two loosely published. Mexico is ideal for you such vivid imagery. I run a company, Zeatro, and a non- profit environmental company, activist oriented, attended Earth
            Summit in Rio 1992 before Agenda 21 became political tool. Tough political climate here, I ride dressage on gorgeous stallions and love fiercely, great mate named Mark. Most of all stay well will read your book, excited.


  4. Mr. Bennet: Richard Grabman of Montezuma Books directed me to you. On Dec.6, SOL literary journal is staging a book fair in San Miguel de Allende at La Aldea Hotel. Authors are invited to display their works, and to read to the attendees in a separate hall if they would like. I can send you the announcement, but I fear it may be too long for this short space. If you’d be interested in participating, please e-mail me. My name and e-mail are in the boxes below this one.

  5. Hi Sterling,
    I have finished your book and it was really, really good. You are a great story teller and have such a distinctive style that actually reminds me very much of how you are yourself. What a treat to find a book I enjoyed so much! Write more.
    Also surprised to find you living “right around the corner” in Guanajuato (so to speak) from San Miguel where I have owned property for 7 years that I ultimately do not think I will build upon, nevertheless. I will be there leading a dream workshop third week in January; if you and Diane happen into town during that time, would love to have coffee or a glass of good tequila. Great to see you looking so well, and doing so well. Michael would have been happy to know this. Jean Norelli

    1. Jean,
      What a surprise! And so close by! Are you living in SMA or do you come and go? I think the latter. We live here full-time, in Guanajuato. Thanks for the kind words on my book. I am writing another one right now. Same publisher. If everything goes okay, should be out in a year. Give us a call when you’re in SMA next. Give us some lead time. You can reach my Mexican cell at 473 103-6665, from within Mexico. Home phone here in GTO is a California number but rings here: 707 703-5452. I think fondly of both you and Michael. Wish he were still around.

      1. That’s great Sterling. I will be in SMA Jan 16-27, leading the dream W/S on the 18-24 and so there are a few days after it that we can perhaps connect. I will call you when I get in and see what’s possible on your end. I will be staying at Casa de la Cuesta the whole time and you can reach me there or email: norelli@sonic.net. So glad to hear you are already at work on a new book. That’s great!

  6. Sterling (& Dianne) I have lived in San Miguel de Allende for over a year and a half and I have no rational explanation as to why I have not contacted you until now. Maybe it’s because the old life seems like a prior incarnation without connection to this new life. In any case, next time you come to San Miguel I would love to see you, talk to you, hug you, have tea, etc.
    From Lynne Parker parker.lynne1@gmail.com

  7. Es tut mir Leid, dass meine Sendung durcheinander ausgedrücked worden ist. Der Titel ist Vielleicht können Sie mich privat schreiben und wir machen Pläne. Phillip

  8. Hallo Sterling Bennett,

    “Playing for Pancho Villa” habe ich gerade gelesen und sehr genossen. Ich wohne in San Miguel arbeite im Moment arbeite ich auf meinem Vortrag Der Zugmeister war nämlich der Opa meiner Frau Lydia. Ich glaube wir haben gemeinsamen Interessen. Wenn Sie das nächste Mal in SMA sind, vielleicht können wir uns treffen. Ich bin auch Professor in Ruhastand. Phillip Herring

  9. So glad to have discovered your many web “presents”, Sterling.

    And ’tis always nice seeing you on the streets of ‘Juato. Do you agree that our dependably perfect weather keeps the brew of creativity abrewing?

  10. Herr Sterling, this is Aubrey Rose from your German and Foreign Lit class at Sonoma State in fall 1990 – I just saw online that Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, has passed away – I thought of your class so I searched you online and found you here – cheers!

    1. Hi, Aubrey! Thanks for thinking of me and Achebe at the same time. I’ve been living in Mexico for the last thirteen years, where things have been falling apart since the beginning of time. It is still a wonderful place to live. Hope you are doing well! Sterling

  11. Hey, Brian, what a treat to hear from you. How are you? Are you up on your mountain top still? Still writing away? Are you involved in veterans’ affairs at all? I’ll visit your website! Big hug from me…!

  12. merci de ce très joli conte , il me plaît beaucoup je vais l’envoyer à mes amis sur facebook
    bon voyage à mes nouveaux amis (e)
    votre dévouée monik

  13. Greetings from the beautiful State of Missouri! I have enjoyed reading some of your stories this evening. You writing style reminds me of having a conversation with you. It is enjoyable!

    1. Ian, Glad you’re reading some of my stories. I’m flattered that you enjoy them. I think one of the tricks of storytelling is to be guided by the flow of one’s own speech. Your Granddad Earl speaks very much the way Mark Twain writes, when he’s talking about Missouri and the Bottom Land along the River. Good to hear from you. Y abrazos a tu Mamá!

  14. Hi Sterling.
    I love your stories. Especially since I can see you speaking them and hear your voice so clearly. Unmistakable, your voice.
    Thank you for sharing. Tell “Carolina” I say hello. Miss you all.
    Stacey Tompkins

    1. Dear Stacey, Sorry to have taken so long to respond. You were my first comment, and a very encouraging one indeed. Thanks so much! I haven’t forgotten your story about the dog killing the goats. Or were they sheep? I believe you read that story at our house, during one of the reading evenings. Abrazos to you all!

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