I’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!
FATED 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:
Things 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.
And in case you haven't had a chance to read FATED yet, here's the scoop on Alex Verus' first adventure:
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.
Penguin is graciously offering one (1) copy of CURSED to a lucky reader!
To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Ends Thursday, July 5, 2012a Rafflecopter giveaway