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Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview with Benedict Jacka + giveaway!

Benedict JackaI’m absolutely delighted to welcome Benedict Jacka to the blog today. I fell in love with his first Alex Verus novel earlier this year and so I'm a little giddy right now. =) Today, Benedict's here to talk about the second Alex Verus book, CURSED, which was released last month.

Read on to get to know Benedict and to learn more about CURSED. And stick around for a chance to win a copy of CURSED from the lovely folks at Penguin!




Welcome back to the blog, Benedict! We're excited to have you back with us.
To begin, could you tell our readers what to expect with CURSED?

Thanks – good to be back!

Cursed is the second book in the Alex Verus series, and though it follows on from Fated it can be read as a standalone. Alex and Luna are the focus of the story, and there's more action than Fated as a series of enemies target Alex for reasons unknown. New characters arrive and old ones return, including Arachne, Sonder, Starbreeze, Cinder, and Deleo – some are friends and some enemies, and Alex has to figure out which are which.

One of the things I adore about your books is that Alex has to use his smarts to get out of trouble because his divination powers only give him information, not solutions. How did you decide to make Alex a diviner, rather than giving him a flashier ability like some of the other characters?

Fated is actually the fifth book I've written in the setting, and in books one through four I did give the protagonist one of the more flashy abilities. The problem I found with those, though, was that the more I wrote the harder I found to keep resolving conflicts in an interesting way. The most natural solution to any problem tended to be for the protagonist to brute-force it rather than use their magic to maneuver or give information. So when I sat down to write Fated, I had the idea to try out a story where the main character's primary ability only gave information. Alex developed from there.

Luna's curse is very interesting and I love that we get to see her learning more about it in CURSED. Will she ever be able to control it?

Depends what you mean by control! It's not going away anytime soon, but she's getting better and better at using and directing it with each book.

My favourite character (other than Alex) is Sonder. Can you give us any hints about his future?

Sonder's the most "white hat" of the main cast – he's got much less of a dark side than the rest of the primary characters. That's going to cause some friction in the future, but he's still going to be around!

Benedict Jacka Cursed UKFATED got a lot of positive buzz, including some major praise from Jim Butcher. How did it feel to interact with him and hear all of the comparisons between Alex and Harry Dresden? Do you feel extra pressure now?

Getting to talk with Jim was awesome – he's an incredibly nice guy and the advice he's given me has been really helpful. The comparisons between Alex and Harry Dresden, though . . . eh, I pay less attention to those. I can see where they come from, but I know so much about both characters that I notice the differences more than the similarities. Not enough to make me feel any pressure, anyway!

Are there any other authors or public figures you'd like to be able to sit down and chat with?

Heh. Lots, but I doubt I'll get the chance – I still feel like I was lucky to get to talk to Jim! Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, and Lois McMaster Bujold for a start, but they're all way more established than me.

Getting back to your books, what can we expect from TAKEN? Will that be the last we see of Alex Verus?

Taken's going to be a shift of pace from Cursed – slightly less combat and more poking around in dark corners. There are still action scenes, but they're more integrated into the story. The book focuses more on the apprentices of Alex Verus' world, and what life's like for the younger mages. It also introduces a couple of new characters who are likely to be long-term additions to the cast (one of them made a very small cameo in Cursed, but it was of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it sort).

And finally, one last question before we wrap up: One of the plot points in CURSED involves the monkey's paw, a magical item that can choose its bearer and grants his or her wishes (with a catch). If you could have catch-free wishes, what would they be?

I actually used to think about answers to that question, about ten-fifteen years ago. Now that I look back on it, nearly all the things I would have wished for would either have been pointless, or out-and-out counterproductive (because getting them without working for them would have taken away the whole point of the experience). So while I'm not saying I'd turn them down, I'd think REALLY carefully before making them!

Thanks for having me here on the blog, and hope you enjoy the books!


Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Benedict! I'm so curious about who this new long-term addition is. I think I'm going to re-read CURSED and try to figure out who it might be. =)

Here’s the scoop on CURSED:

Benedict Jacka CursedThings are going well for Alex Verus. He’s on moderately good terms with the Council, Luna’s settling in as his apprentice, and nobody has tried to kill him in weeks.

But when a mysterious woman bursts into his shop one night with a construct assassin on her tail, he’s thrown into the middle of a plot to revive a long-forbidden ritual for draining the power from living creatures. Alex’s old enemies Cinder and Deleo are after the secret, as well as a Council mage named Belthas and a mercenary named Garrick; at least one of them is trying to get Alex killed, and unfortunately for Alex he doesn’t know which. And finally, Luna’s found a boyfriend.

In between dodging assassination attempts and trying to keep Luna in one piece, Alex needs to figure out who’s really playing who – and whose side he should be on. He can see the future, but knowing who to trust is something else.

Jenn's thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

And in case you haven't had a chance to read FATED yet, here's the scoop on Alex Verus' first adventure:

Benedict Jacka Fated Alex Verus is a diviner, able to see the future. This is impressive to most people but less so to other mages, who can do things like throw fire, disintegrate things, and fly. Right now Alex has a problem – a site’s been discovered containing an ancient and powerful relic, and lots of people are looking for a diviner to open it, including a trio of dark mages, a faction of the Council with an agenda of their own, and a shadowy figure out of Alex’s past, all of whom are looking to recruit, press-gang, or kill Alex, not necessarily in that order.

As if that’s not enough, Alex has to take care of his would-be apprentice, who has some connection to the relic which is making her a target as well . . . and who also just happens to carry a curse that’ll kill anyone who gets too close, assuming the mages hunting her don’t do it first. His allies are an air elemental with the memory of a goldfish and a creature living under Hampstead Heath that would make most people run screaming.

Sometimes seeing the future isn’t as fun as it sounds.

Jenn's thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository



Penguin is graciously offering one (1) copy of CURSED to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

US only

Ends Thursday, July 5, 2012

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Born and raised in the Toronto area, Jenn moved to St. John's, Newfoundland, eight years ago for school. She's still in school (thankfully on another degree!), now trapped in her dissertation. When she's not dissertating, which happens more often than it should, Jenn spends her time reading, watching movies, playing volleyball, travelling, and enjoying the local music scene. Her latest addictions: yoga and Almond Crunch cereal.

20 People left their mark' :

  1. I wouldn't wish for anything because I remember that episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" - bad things happened.

  2. Ugh, Monkey's Paws creep me out! I don't really know what I'd wish for - maybe superpowers that I had complete control of? Tough question

  3. I wouldn't. I'd bury the thing somewhere so it would cause any problem. The monkey paw is just too freaky.

  4. Hmm, make it give me the winning lotto numbers?

  5. Um, ick. I'd wish the monkey had its paw back.

  6. I would wish for a nice tropical island with lots of books! Yeah thats its!

  7. I don't think I would wish for anything because I know every wish comes with a price.

  8. thanks for a great post and giveaway! I guess if I could wish w/out bad consequences, I'd wish for winning lottery numbers :)

  9. I'd wish for immortality for me, my friends and family. And maybe a couple of actors I think are hot, then I'd have an eternity to stalk them ;)

    Loved the first book!

  10. I would wish for me to get pregnant and have a baby. Tore923@aol.com

  11. I guess I would wish for the winning lotto numbers. Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. Wonderful interview. Great giveaway!

  13. I read a short story about a monkey's paw and every wish granted had a terrible cost to the wisher, so I think I'd pack away the monkey's paw unused.


  14. Winning the jackpot

  15. I've read The Monkey's Paw, which is so creepy and sad. I probably wouldn't wish for anything.

  16. If I had a Paw, I would wish for 10 million dollars - that would take care of retirement =)

  17. I would wish for the monkey paw to return to it's rightful place...every wish that comes true by magic always has some unforseen consequence that I just don't want to deal with