Friday, March 02, 2012

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012

Please welcome Benedict Jacka to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Fated, Benedict's adult debut and the first novel in the Alex Verus series, was published on February 28, 2012 in the US. You will definitely want to read this wonderful Urban Fantasy series.

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?

BenedictFated 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

Alex 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).

Alex Verus 2
Ace, May 29, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and Ebook, 304 pages

 The UK Cover (Orbit, June 7, 2012)

About Benedict

Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.


The Giveaway


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?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

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.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. Usually I prefer the UK covers, but this time, I'm liking the US covers more. Go, USA! ;)

    Enjoyed the interview. ::runs off to add yet another book to the TBR, thanks to Qwill::

    +3: comment, follower, serial-retweeter :p

  2. I like the UK covers more, which tends to be the case. I like the fading/burnt edges on the UK covers :) For books with way better UK covers, I usually fork over the extra money for the imported UK version.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    ssosborn at gmail dot com
    I am a follower :)

    1. I do the same thing! I generally end up with 2 sets of books though - US and UK covers. :)

  3. I prefer the US cover.

    Great interview! The book sounds very good.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  4. I like the US covers much better. The UK covers are really plain and look outdated.

    GFC Anne38 & email

  5. I believe I like the US covers more.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    I am a follower.

    I mentioned the giveaway on Twitter.!/russc98/status/175647408380841987

    russ98 at gmail dot com

  6. I definitely prefer the US cover versions- they spark my imagination. The UK covers just seem so flat and unimaginative. I'd pass those right over in a bookstore.
    I can't wait to read Fated- it looks so good! (And with a compliment from Jim Butcher on the cover, I was immediately sold.)

    +1 comment
    +1 email follower

    debbie at burdeen dot com

  7. thanks for this great interview! I really like the two covers they're very different but I think I have a preference for the US covers, I really like the colors.

    I'm a follower: Melliane

    shared on twitter:!/betweendandr/status/175656761901056000


  8. I love the US covers best.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower

  9. I have to admit that often I prefer the UK covers, but in this instance the US in my mind is much more intriguing and as shallow as I am it cause me to enter this fun giveaway and want to read the book LOL Thank you for taking the time to share with us today!
    +1 comment
    +1 email / GFC follower
    +1 tweeted =!/ZDz59001/status/175657091208450049

  10. I am also liking the USA covers more, but I do agree with Sabrina about the burnt out edges of the UK covers, I think that looks great.
    Thanks for the interview and giveaway
    I'm a follower


  11. I like both covers; though I prefer the US version. It is "BAM! In your face" type of cover. The UK version is a bit more subtle.

    +1 follower
    +1 comment

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  12. [+1] I prefer the US covers :)

    [+1] Follower. My GFC name is Cherry.

    [+1] Twitted about your giveaway at!/cherrymischivus/status/175681935899766785

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-blackward [at] yahoo [dot] com

  13. Sometimes I like the UK and sometimes the US.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  14. The UK cover! The US one is good, too, but I just love the UK cover. :)
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower
    + tweet:!/Cayce_23/status/175695710593888256

    cayce006 at yahoo dot com

  15. In this case I will have to go for the US covers.

    +2 follower, comment


  16. This is one of the rare occasions I prefer the US covers. I MUST read Fated. I only wish I had some of Alex's magic to increase my reading time.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower

  17. I love the USA covers. edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    GFC Krystal Larson

  18. I find the UK covers more appealing. They have a more graphic sensibility, and look like someone took time to really think them out. Simplicity is so much harder to do well. I follow the Qwillery with great interest and mention books covered on my blog. I also share the posts on facebook.

  19. I love the US covers. Although I also like the UK covers. Really, it could go either way. But the US cover for Fated is what caught my eye!
    GFC: Vivien

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  20. I like the US covers best, but only just. I like both.

    I follow.


  21. I prefer the US cover more.
    Great interview! The book sounds very good.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Email and GFC follower as Filia Oktarina
    +1 facebook :


  22. UK, no comparison.

    GFC follower: Frederikke Reimer

  23. Most of the time I prefer UK covers but this one is a draw on the first cover and definitely UK cover for the second one!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 blog mention
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  24. I prefer the covers and I can predict that if I was to win this there would be a fight at our house as to who could read it first. Since my two boys would like this one too.
    I prefer the US covers
    I follow via GFC
    I tweeted!/Pamk258/status/176148162933817344
    and I posted on my sidebar
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  25. I prefere US cover more. It is brighter and has more datail.
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower
    +1 tweeted:!/soni_sonik/status/176235734510993408

  26. I like the US covers. Thanks for introducing me to yet another new-to-me author!
    I'm a gfc follower.


  27. I normally like US covers better...but this time it's really hard to choose because they're both good and since I haven't read the book I can't say which one shows the spirit of the book better. I guess I'll find out once I read it.

    thanks for the giveaway!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower