TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Benedict: I used to only write between the hours of 12 and 3 each way – that's 12pm to 3pm and 12am to 3am. I'd get a lot of work done but it did lead to kind of a weird sleep pattern and it made it a little tricky to keep up a job . . .
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Benedict: Agatha Christie's a big one - she's superb at formal structure and layout, not to mention quickly sketching characters. I'm also a fan of Jack Vance, especially his settings and cultures. Other than that – Tolkien, Richard Adams (just for Watership Down), Paul O. Williams, and Jim Butcher. I tend to take bits and pieces from anime series and computer games too, although I won't say which ones as I steal from them even more blatantly than I do from books.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Benedict: What's a pantser? *Googles it*. Oh, so that's what it means. I'd been wondering about that.
I'd say a mix of both. I usually have a skeletal plot laid out in my head, and I'll have certain details of certain scenes planned a long way in advance (often before I know when or how the scene's going to happen). But it's like a fishing net – there's much more empty space than there is rope – and all that space gets filled in as I go along, often with stuff I make up on the spot.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Benedict: Waiting! When I've finished a book all I want is to give it to people and have them read it and talk about it with them. Instead I have to wait anywhere between months and years before it gets on the shelves and other people can read it. Mind you, that's still better than how it used to be, which was waiting to see if the book was ever going to be published at all.
TQ: Describe Fated in 140 characters or less.
Benedict: To solve a mystery and protect a friend, a lonely diviner with a dark past reluctantly comes back to magical society.
TQ: What inspired you to write Fated?
Benedict: Fated is actually my tenth novel. Back when I was writing my earlier books I wrote several children's books in an urban-fantasy-esque universe split between the real world and a fantasy one. One of the main ideas I played around with in that book was the idea of magic-users who could use a very specific type of magic tied to their personality – so you could get an ice mage, a life mage, a time mage, etc. The novels I wrote in that setting never sold, but I never quite gave up on the idea.
Then one season while I was working as an English teacher I started thinking of writing a story in the same universe, but one where the main character was an adult instead of a teenager. Up until now I'd always made the main character an elementalist, but somehow or other I got the idea of making the protagonist a diviner whose magic couldn't affect the physical world but could instead be used to see the future. The more I thought about the idea the more I liked it, and in between teaching lessons one day I started on the story . . .
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Fated?
Benedict: More stuff than I could name! On a typical writing day I end up researching everything from the muzzle velocities of sniper rounds to the exact names for the steps of Latin dances. For Fated the most fun bit was probably a trip to the British Museum. It had been ages since I'd last gone and I'd forgotten how impressive the architecture is, not to mention the exhibits.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Benedict: Easiest was Starbreeze, by a mile. She's an air elemental with a three second memory and she's completely and utterly straightforward. I know exactly what she's going to do without thinking about it (because she never thinks about it either).
The hardest was Luna. She has a particularly nasty curse that makes it almost impossible for her to get close to or spend any length of time with other people, and figuring out how that would have affected her childhood and eventual personality was very difficult. I ended up having to write a couple of extra pieces just to work out her character properly. Since they're done from Luna's point of view rather than Alex's though, I doubt they'll ever be released!
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Fated?
Benedict: The scene in Chapter 13 where Alex has his final confrontation with Khazad. For a lot of the story I'd been telling readers that battle-mages (especially Dark battle-mages) are dangerous and scary, but I hadn't had much chance to show it – until then. I got to demonstrate exactly how terrifying a Dark mage can be, and why battle-mages look down on diviners . . . and why judging someone only on their brute strength is a mistake.
On top of that, the scene showed a couple of sides to Alex's personality which had been mostly hidden until then. First, it showed how frightening these confrontations are to him, which in turn acted as a test of character by forcing him to stand up to someone who totally outclassed him. And second, it showed Alex's ruthless side, and gave a hint of just why he might have been chosen by his old master.
TQ: What's next?
Benedict: Fated is coming out Feb 28th in the US, and March 1st in the UK. After that, the second and third Alex Verus novels are coming out at three-month intervals in the same year – the second volume Cursed is coming out around the beginning of June, and the third volume Taken at the beginning of September. Alex and Luna make a return, along with a lot of old faces and a growing cast of new ones!
In the meantime I'm releasing regular updates on my blog about the setting, background, and universe of the Alex Verus series. The articles are called the Encyclopaedia Arcana, and they're posted at 9:00 AM every Friday. So if you've finished Fated and would like to see more, or if you'd just like to find out more about the series, take a look!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery
Benedict: Thanks for having me!
About the Alex Verus series
FatedAlex Verus 1
Ace, February 28, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.
But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...
The UK Cover (Orbit, March 1, 2012)
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer.
In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won’t sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you’re looking for, he might just be able to help. That’s if he’s not too busy avoiding his apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.
Fated will be followed in 2012 by Cursed (Alex Verus 2) and Taken (Alex Verus 3).
CursedAlex Verus 2
Ace, May 29, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and Ebook, 304 pages
The UK Cover (Orbit, June 7, 2012)
What: One commenter will win a copy of Fated (Alex Verus 1) from The Qwillery.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
Which do you prefer - the UK or US covers?
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, March 9, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
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