An interview with Benedict Jacka

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The quote from The Lord of the Rings resonated for me the uncertainty I felt when writing the article How Stories Connect Us. I truly did not know how it would all turn out in the end, or in the manner of Bilbo, I did not know where the road would sweep my feet once I went out that door.

When the first author Chris F. Holm replied to my interview request I thought the series would finish as a single piece, lightning never strikes twice as they say. In my own mind I felt I had achieved a measure of success, providing a little deeper insight into one authors perspective and literary back-story, and I was content with this.

Much to my surprise and delight (including a little jig – I am Irish) Benedict Jacka, author of the Alex Verus and Ninja series, was gracious enough to reply to my questions, which meant another chance to delve around into the words and stories that shaped Benedict’s writings.

A great thanks to Benedict for taking time out of his schedule, I know he must be very busy with promotional responsibilities for his latest Alex Verus novel, ‘Hidden’ which comes out 2nd September 2014. I am really looking forward to reading and reviewing it for the site. If you wish to know more about Benedict you can read his biography here.

Down to business then, it’s not like you’re here for my prattling.

Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?

Watership Down.  I first had it read to me when I was VERY young and I went on to read it over my childhood more times than I can count.  I always loved the story.

Which book or series do you read which makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?

Difficult one… a lot of books in different ways.  I’ll pick an author more or less at random and say Gerald Durrell, especially his book My Family and Other Animals.  I went through a phase while I was young when I kept reading his books over and over again obsessively, often in the middle of the night.

Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?

Brandon Sanderson’s new series, Stormlight Archive, is pretty good.

Which book or series is your guilty pleasure? The one you read when no one else is watching? Maybe it’s the Twilight Saga (not that there is anything wrong with the Twilight books) with the dust jacket of War and Peace?

Heh.  I actually don’t have any books that I feel guilty about reading, not really – the way I see it, if they’re interesting enough to get all the way through, they were obviously doing something right!  I think it’s because my original genre was children’s fantasy – the same kind of books that (unsurprisingly enough) get called childish.  So I’ll read everything from Harry Potter to Hunger Games to Twilight quite happily.

Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters into e.g. Peter? Would you want them to thrive and integrate or want them to burn it all down?

Well, sticking Alex into the Dresden Files setting would be fun, if for no other reason than I’d have an answer to all those readers who keep asking when Alex and Harry are going to meet up. 

Fingers crossed there is more to come.

Article and interview by Fergus McCartan.