Curtis Bennett, '93, '12
Curtis Bennett is a decorated Desert Storm veteran, talk show radio co-host and an author with an ever-growing list of publications.
Bennett, whose readers know him as C.S. Bennett, says his love for writing dates back to his childhood, when he recalls writing love letters in school.
“When I was younger in school and I had a crush on a girl, I didn’t write just a poem, I wrote like a little novelette. Ten- or 11-page little romance letter, and I think it’s through that that I first began honing my skills,” Bennett said.
His time in the Navy began in the '70s on the U.S.S. Nimitz, where he was involved in both the Iranian hostage crisis and the TWA hijacking. During Desert Storm, he was on the U.S.S. Saratoga and he recalls the unique spirit of serving during that time.
“Everybody I served with were all volunteers," he said. "Everybody wanted to be there.”
He also recalls getting to travel to a number of exotic and historical places -- his favorites included Venice, Athens and Cairo -- all for the historical monuments and movie-like scenery.
It was on a training trip with the Navy in San Diego that his desire to write a novel was sparked. “I had an experience in San Diego when I was there training for a couple months, and I ended up writing about it," he said. "It turned out to be a romance story. I wrote the manuscript in about six or seven months. But I put it away. Actually, I lost the manuscript for about five years."
After finding the lost manuscript in a box in his garage, he worked on it using a typewriter for seven months before transferring it to a word processor.
“I worked on it and still didn't get it published until around 2011, and this was something that I started in 1977," Bennett said. "So, it took that long. It marinated during that time. I would enhance it as I improved as a writer."
Bennett recalls his UNF journey beginning after being stationed at all three Jacksonville bases, with Mayport being his last. He earned his second degree in criminal justice in 1993 at UNF, having already earned his first degree at Bethel University before his Navy career. His education in criminal justice helped him land a job in child protective services for eight years.
By the time Curtis came back to UNF for his master’s in political science, he had already finished three books. And while attending school full time between 2011 and 2013, he had finished 16 more. “I would write a novel, and then almost immediately another story would start percolating in my head. A week or two later, I was sitting down to type another one. And it went on like that for sixteen novels,” Bennett said.
Curtis has now written 28 books, with 24 publications and three new books on the way this coming year. His work covers various topics including romance, military suspense, human interest and politics. He admits that one of his favorite things about writing is getting to travel again as a keynote speaker and meet people. In his free time, he also co-hosts a talk radio show called “Southern Sense,” where he enjoys interviewing influential figures such as dignitaries, entertainers, musicians, politicians, governors, congressmen and lieutenant governors.
He looks back quite fondly at his experience at UNF, contending that he loved to watch the school grow over time. “I just love the campus," he said. "I remember at one point you could walk from one building to the other and never get rained on. Even with all the other schools that popped up in town, UNF was it. I really enjoyed my experience there and I can’t wait to get involved again."