British author, Benedict Jacka, wrote his first full-length work when he was only eighteen. Although it was never published, he kept on writing, and his Ninja series was released seven years later. These days, Benedict stays busy writing his Alex Verus series, a popular adult urban fantasy centered around the proprietor of a London magic shop, who happens to be able to see the future. Fated, the sixth book in the series, will be released on August 4th. Benedict was gracious enough to spend a little time with us, so we hope you enjoy the interview.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
BJ: I didn’t, really. I just started writing a story one day and it turned into a book, and after that I wrote another book, and so on. I didn’t start thinking about whether I was a writer or not until people started asking me about it.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
BJ: J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Richard Adams, Robert Jordan, Jack Vance. And probably lots of others that I can’t think of at short notice.
Kyle R asks: What would you say is your biggest obstacle in life—and how do you deal with it?
BJ: My biggest obstacles have tended to relate to my personal life, rather than my professional life. Writing is pretty straightforward by comparison!
Kyle R asks: What are you most conscious of while writing?
BJ: I usually find that my writing goes best when I’m not actively and consciously thinking of anything. It’s a weird, trance-like state. The hard part is staying in it, since maintaining it can take a lot of work.
What kind of impact would you like your work to have?
BJ: For there to be some people out there for whom reading my books makes their lives better or happier in some way.
astroannie asks: What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
BJ: Lots of parts can be difficult, especially the getting started. But if you mean the part of a book’s life cycle that I find takes the most stress and hard work, that’d definitely be rewriting.
What is your favorite setting for writing?
BJ: Hmm. Good question. I don’t think I have one. I’ve read and loved stories in lots of settings. I think I care much more about the characters than the location.
What is your favorite thing about writing fantasy?
BJ: The fact that I can write the sorts of stories I like, and people will want to read them. I’d never be able to do that if I wrote highbrow literature!
Gumby asks: Do you still practice ninjutsu and if so, do you feel that it helps your writing, both the physical and the mental discipline it takes to write?
BJ: Not ninjutsu specifically, but I always keep up some kind of physical exercise, whether it’s climbing, skating, martial arts, or just going to the gym. I find it’s a huge help with keeping up my energy levels and mental focus.
What are you reading right now?
BJ: A biography of Elon Musk.
J Anfinson asks: What was the biggest lesson you learned during the writing of your first novel?
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
BJ: It’s hard to answer those sorts of questions because you’re viewing it from within your own perspective – it’s like trying to see the back of your own head. A critic would probably have a better take on it. From my point of view, the most obvious difference is that I’ve become a lot more efficient with how I use my ideas.
What is your role vs. your publishers’ in marketing your books?
BJ: My publishers shop the books around to the sellers and distributors, and do occasional promotions. For my part I maintain my website and post up new stuff every week.
What advice do you have for new writers?
BJ: Read a lot, write a lot, and expect to take years if not decades before getting any kind of commercial success. Writing is like any other craft – it takes a really long time to get good at it.
am_hammy asks: Are there any characters you’ve created who you identify with? Why?
BJ: I identify with nearly all of my viewpoint characters, to one degree or other. The only ones I have trouble identifying with are the ones with genuinely alien viewpoints, in which case I just have to analyse them from an outside perspective and take my best guess.
Are there genres you haven’t tried, that you’d like to in the future?
BJ: Well, I’ve had several people tell me that I ought to write paranormal romance, but I’ve got the feeling that’s mostly for their own amusement.
What are you working on now? When will it be available?
BJ: I’m just finishing up the first-round edits for the seventh Alex Verus novel, Burned. It’ll be out in April 2016.
For someone new to your books, what do you suggest they read first?
BJ: The first book in the Alex Verus series, Fated. The later books are better (I was a much less experienced writer when I started the series), but you’re better off starting at the beginning.
Where can we discover more about you and you work?
BJ: At my website: benedictjacka.co.uk