A Wicked Kind of Dark – Fairytales are not all petticoats and pixies

book-revealAlways where light shines brightest, the darkness is most pitch. It is in these extremes, real and imagined, that our greatest stories unfold, and heroes stand tallest.


We see it in Wuthering Heights, when Heathcliff recognises in Hareton echoes of his great love Catherine. The bitterness and anger that has dominated Heathcliff’s character, darkening everything in the novel, drains from his soul leaving him with nothing more to cling to. He dies.


We see it in The Lord of the Rings, when Sauron’s spirit rises, vast and terrible, into the sky only to be blown away in the winds, destroyed by two brave little hobbits.


We see it in A Memory of Light, as Rand al’Thor contests Shai’tan, and the very fabric of existence is ripped apart.


A Wicked Kind of Dark is plotted around a series of undulating climaxes, each more intense than the previous one. The trick is to ensure that the final climax eclipses its predecessors, leaving the reader breathless … You be the judge …


A Wicked Kind of Dark – Published by Odyssey Books, August 2013

Things we do to amuse ourselves

book-revealI use dialogue from movies in everyday situations – the people I am talking to usually have no idea. They just think I’m odd. I sometimes need to adapt the quote to suit the conversation. Here’s a list of my favourites; ones that I re-use because they make me smile. Star Wars features strongly. It is my favourite movie.


If someone tells me to hurry up:

I say, ‘I’m going to hit the brakes, he’ll fly right by’.  – Top Gun


If someone points out a particularly magnificent moon:

I say, ‘That’s no moon, it’s a space station’. – Star Wars


If someone keeps interrupting me when I’m in a hurry:

I say, ‘There’s no time to discuss this as a committee’. – Star Wars


If someone asks me what I’ve done with my life:

I say, ‘I have the death sentence on twelve systems’. – Star Wars


If I mention someone’s name, and somebody else asks ‘Who?’:

I say, ‘Who? Who? What are you, an owl?’. – Heat


If somebody (including myself) makes a bad decision:

I say, ‘He chose … poorly’. – Indiana Jones


AND finally, no list of movie quotes would be complete without Arnie …


If I’m feeling stressed:

I say to myself, ‘Relax, you’ll live longer’. Total Recall

USA – Thanking you – Jonathan K Benton

jkbI like America. It brought me Star Wars and Forest Gump. I want to hire a 1958 red and white Plymouth Fury, call it Christine, and drive Route 66 staying at dilapidated motels with flickering neon lights owned by cross-dressing men called Norman – as long as Norman behaves. I like Tom Cruise. He got fired from his ad agency taking nought but a goldfish. Raymond E Feist, George R.R. Martin, David Eddings and Janny Wurts. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Huckleberry Finn.  I want to get lost – on purpose – in the Louisiana swamps and stumble across a little town called Bon Temps full of pale-faced nocturnals.


Muhammad Ali – you are the king. Don King – I am not sure what you are. Babe Ruth – I knew your name before I knew the game you played. I was five years old, and I was born 50 years after you retired, and if I dropped your name into a sporting conversation, everybody nodded sagely. That is greatness. Carl Lewis and Pete Sampras. Jesse Owens and Michael Phelps.


Bill Gates, who adds value to this world with his technology, and then uses the proceeds of his success to save lives. Wilbur and Orville Wright – flight. Thomas Edison – light. World War 2 – you sent your sons to defend the world against tyranny. Bubble gum – thanking you.


I’m tired of seeing negative articles about the U.S.

Practicing Prose – Jonathan Benton

fae-comboI’d like to write a fantasy novel inspired by music – I have an idea but it requires some developing. The challenge is translating something as abstract as music into words. There’s no point writing a novel about music without being able to hear music in the prose.


I love Beethoven. Some consider his Ninth Symphony the greatest piece of music ever written. The legendary composer introduced voices to the final movement of the Ninth because he’d taken the instruments as far as they could go in the first three movements. He needed something more. The soaring choral finale inspires even the most uninspired.


Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 provided me with a slightly more realistic test. The Emperor already has a story – I just needed to write my interpretation of the music. The following paragraph is that interpretation. The characters are simply ciphers used to hone my technique. Brad (POV) is a young man searching for something deeper in life. By chance he meets a brilliant, similarly-aged concert pianist called Michael. Michael invites Brad to the Sydney Opera House … This paragraph is an exercise in writing and isn’t likely to appear in the novel. Please forgive any looseness.


The grand piano shimmered black under the Concert Hall lights. Michael stepped on stage and moved towards the piano. He looked like a cat stalking a warm spot of sunlight. His black pants were pressed, his equally black shoes, polished. A silky blue shirt danced over his lean torso. He sat at the piano and flexed his long, slender fingers. Magic fingers.

The conductor nodded at Michael.

The hall quietened; a vacuum of anticipation.

Like a wizard with a wand, the conductor cut the air with his baton, and the orchestra roared three mighty chords. Between each chord, Michael’s fingers rippled over the piano keys, impossibly fast, a hummingbird’s wings, and Brad was sucked into the story of The Emperor.

The piano dominated the composition like Napoleon dominated Europe. Trumpets marched inside the music and horns blared triumphantly. Gradually the fanfare faded and the piano took control. A gentle, weeping melody became a thundering waterfall of notes. Brad’s heart pounded like a kettle drum. Music forced its way into his pores. He was alive!

The first movement ended. It was time to search one’s soul in the second movement. The battle was over. Lives had been lost. Victory had come at a cost. A drum beat quietly, in memory of the battle, and drew the audience into the coda. A final victorious flurry of notes ended the story of The Emperor.

Copyright @ Jonathan K Benton 2013