The world you've created in the books is fascinating and I'm curious, where did you draw on your inspiration for it? (Authors often hate this question but I can't seem to stop asking it. I've gotten such great answers in the past!)
No problem - glad to be on here!
I can see why they'd hate the question - it's a hard one! For the Alex Verus series, about half of it comes from all the books, films, series, and games I've ever watched or read. The other half comes from the setting - my childhood growing up in London and the sense of the city. It's hard to put into words, but there's something about London which makes me think of stories and magic.
When it comes to Alex, do you see yourself in him at all or is he totally different from yourself?
Hmm . . . tricky one. We're probably more similar than different. I used a lot of my personality traits as a starting point for Alex's character, but they've developed in a different way since they're all filtered through his (much more violent) history. We do have the same sort of approach to solving problems, though.
What was the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome when writing?
*laughs* Getting rejected over and over again! Writing's not a job for the easily discouraged. I'm not even going to go into how many books I had rejected before Fated was published, but let's just say it was a lot!
Do you have a favorite character to write?
Probably Alex himself. His personality's a natural fit to mine and so it's very easy for me to figure out what he'd do in any situation. Also, I love coming up with ways for him to use his divination magic to get out of whatever overly-lethal trouble he's in this time.
Oh yes, I think I would have fun figuring that out as well!
Or a character that's particularly difficult to write?
Deleo's scenes were very hard. This is because she's insane. Since I'm not insane (as far as I know) it's tricky to put myself in her shoes. Luckily she snaps back and forth between psychotic episodes and periods of lucidity so at least she has some spaces where she's not full-on-crazy.
And I loved how she was done! The insane pieces along with the parts where she's lucid were done very well and added a nice element to the story. I'm sure it was difficult though!
In Fated do you have a favorite scene and if so can you give my readers a bit of a tease?
Ooh, hard to choose. Maybe Alex's final confrontation with Khazad. It's probably the darkest and the most vicious scene in the book, but it shows Alex's character really well - both his vulnerability (Khazad plays with him in a very cruel cat-and-mouse fashion) and also his dangerous side (Richard picked Alex as an apprentice for a reason).
Oh yes, that was one intense and crazy scene! I loved it!
We're lucky enough that you have three books from the Alex Verus series coming out this year. I love that it is being done more often because quite often a year between books results in me losing interest. If it's only a few months then I'm still excited and eager for more of the world and characters. How did you get lucky enough for that happen? Did you have three books already finished when they sold, or how did it all come about?
It was actually a publishing decision by Orbit, for the reason you just described - it's a lot easier to build up momentum for a series if it's getting released at three-month intervals. I wrote the first draft of Fated all the way back in 2008. In 2009 I started to get interest from Orbit, in 2010 I rewrote it, and in the same year I was offered the contract for all three books and got to work on Cursed and Taken. Fated's been sitting waiting for publication for a long time!
Yay! I'm so glad they are doing that more! I love having three books that I can read closer together, I hope they do it more often!
And the three books come out this year but will there be more of Alex Verus in the future?
If I have any say in it, definitely! I'm plotting out Alex Verus #4 at the moment.
Oh good! I'm sure that three won't be enough for me. ;)
Can you tell us anything about what will happen in Cursed, the next Alex Verus book, or is it still a secret?
A lot of Cursed is about the relationship between Alex and Luna - although probably not in the way most readers are going to be expecting! There's a lot more about magical creatures and their place in the world (especially Arachne) and we get to see an item that's referenced to in Fated, along with exactly what it can do.
I'm definitely anxious to see more Luna and more magical creatures? YAY!
Okay, so if you lived in Alex's world what would you like to be, or what ability would you like to have? I have to say that Alex's seer ability was far more useful then I would have ever imagined... it helps that he's a fast thinker too though, not everyone would be able to all that he can do, that's for sure!
Hehe, everyone has a different answer to that one. Probably air magic, just for being able to fly. Although Alex's abilities might just be more useful in the long run!
Yes, being able to fly would be great! I would be traveling the world... But you're right that Alex's abilities sure would be useful!
I see that you've traveled a bit but you always end up back in London. Of the other places you've lived, or even just visited, which was your favorite and why?
Probably China. I spent half a year there in a small city in Anhui province. It was the first time I'd spent a really long time in a completely different culture and it was quite an experience - especially since there were 200,000 people in the city of whom about 5 were from outside the country! Luckily I speak a little Mandarin but it was still very very different from what I was used to.
I have a friend living in China right now and my aunt lived there for a few years as well. It's so beautiful, I know that!
I'm an eclectic reader, but I love unique worlds with characters that POP, what book (or series) do you recommend?
One that I read when I was much younger that's always stuck with me is The Book of Night with Moon by Diane Duane. It's an urban fantasy written back when hardly anyone knew what 'urban fantasy' meant, with a set of wizards trying to save New York from a multi-universe threat involving an invasion by dinosaurs. Oh, and the main characters are all cats. If you're an animal lover and a fantasy lover, you'll like it!
Oh I looked it up and it sounds very different! I'm definitely going to have to read it!
Thanks so much for being on Benedict! I'm looking forward to reading much more from you. And one day I'll travel to London and I'm hoping that you'll 'just happen' to be having a book signing right at that particular time so I can get my books signed. Or you could always have a US tour too. ;)
Heh, I'd love to have a US tour - maybe it'll happen some day! If you ever do come to London look me up so I can plan a signing in advance. And thank you for the very nice review and for doing this interview. I'll keep on writing the Alex Verus series - hope you'll keep on reading them!
I will most definitely let you know if I can make it to London, it's been a dream for a very long time! And I can't wait for more Alex!
In the meantime, I have a blog (http://benedictjacka.co.uk/) that I update regularly with a series called the Encyclopaedia Arcana that describes the background to Alex's world, as well as news and reviews and updates - the most recent is an email exchange between me and Jim Butcher. If you'd like to find out what's going on with future books, take a look!
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 awesome folks at Penguin/Ace are offering up one copy of FATED to one lucky person!
Open to US only (sorry international folks!)
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