Love, crushes and getting over a broken heart – Jonathan K Benton

fae-comboWhen I was at primary school I started to notice that girls were much prettier than boys. I even had a few crushes, but I didn’t make it to the Wendy House for my first kiss until intermediate. Crushes prepared me for the more serious stuff later in life.

My college years began and I started having girlfriends – never at the same time! – but the relationships didn’t last long. Breaking up was never easy for me; nothing is simple when feelings are involved. Tom Cruise summed it up perfectly in Cocktail: ‘Everything ends badly otherwise it wouldn’t end’.

My crushes became more intense. If I was feeling confident I could talk to the girls I liked – make them laugh. If I was insecure, then my mouth dried up and my tongue felt like it had been anaesthetised, tripping over my words.

My first true love entered my life two years out of high school. When we parted ways, I grew disillusioned about almost everything. Love is meant to last forever, right?

After nursing a broken heart (bring out the violins please) for a few years, I met my next girlfriend. She made it possible for me to move on. But time and circumstance prevented this relationship from enduring. Perhaps I was still carrying scars.

My partner today – she’s proof that lightning can strike twice. She’s smart and beautiful and I love her. When we first met, she thought I was a ning-nong. It took me a long time to convince her I was a likeable ning-nong.

I’m no expert on relationships. Being yourself seems logical, otherwise you’ll be found out soon enough. But I’ve learned a few things along the way.

If a relationship ends and you still want to be in it, then don’t pester your ex. Hold your head up high, be prepared to accept ‘no’, and be patient. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.


While I believe in fairytales, I also think if Cinderella broke up with Prince Charming, she’d eventually find another match. That’s not to say childhood sweethearts can’t grow old and die together, hands held in The Notebook perfection. But you can mend a broken heart, and you can love again. I did.


Acting Agony Aunt

Jonathan K Benton

Postscript: what does this blog have to do with writing? At the heart of almost every novel there’s a love story. It doesn’t have to involve love in the romantic sense of the word either. Writing, itself, is a labour of love.

Education – Jonathan K Benton

Jonathan small fileIt seems logical that if a country with a population of 5.4 million circa can create a highly successful publicly funded school system that provides quality education to every member of its society, regardless of background, then this model should be used in every country that truly puts its citizens first – all its citizens.

Finland has created the ideal.

Students are not selected, tracked or streamed during their basic education (4 – 15 years old) in Finland. Early childhood education stresses the importance of diversity and culture. Differences are celebrated in these first years to limit bullying and other destabilising influences in the classroom.

There are no private schools in Finland. Competition to become a teacher is fierce – only the best teachers make it into the classrooms. This is how it should be. Why wouldn’t we want all our children taught by passionate, skilled and extremely well educated pedagogues? Teaching plays an essential role in our society.  We need to recognise its true value, and reward it accordingly, both in status and compensation. Without teachers we wouldn’t have doctors, scientists, artists, or trades people. Teaching is important in terms of agriculture and economy. The healthier the education system, the healthier the society. It’s really that simple.

Some UN studies rank New Zealand and Australia highly in terms of their education systems. This is an unreality. Both these countries possess a large pool of students who perform extremely well, and thus distort results. But a significant number of children in the antipodes do not have access to the same quality of schooling, and find themselves stuck in a cycle of educational neglect.

Governments are forever forking out tax-payer money to generate reports on how to restructure and reform education when a successful working model already exists in Finland. All we need is a team of smart people – educated by brilliant teachers, no doubt – to transition us into the ideal.

Until every child is afforded the same quality of education, then humanity will never reach its full potential. And there’s so much potential.

Just a thought


Creating a Dark Lord – by Jonathan Benton

minaea-desktop2-previewThroughout the book The Lord of the Rings, Sauron rarely (if ever, from memory) speaks a word. We don’t know what he looks like, nor are we given direct access to his thoughts. His presence, however, permeates through every page of the novel. The eye of Sauron is more metaphor than plain description.


Voldemort is given physical form in the Harry Potter books. He’s much more of a character in this sense. Because of this, he doesn’t seem as powerful as Sauron.  This is understandable given that Sauron is a maia, one of the immortal spirits that entered the universe at its inception. Voldemort hates muggles; he believes in blood purity. His twisted ways are much creepier (several of our own history’s ugliest inhabitants held a similar belief about blood purity) than Sauron’s distant dark-lord malevolence. We feel more vulnerable to Voldemort’s kind of evil.


I needed to take these two styles of dark lord into consideration when creating my own antagonist. Young adult fantasy is strewn with Voldemort-like characters – Cassandra Clare’s Valentine is also motivated by purity of blood. Today most readers like to get up close and personal with the bad guys. You can’t do this with Sauron.


Racism couldn’t drive my dark lord’s evil ambitions – blood purity has been done before – but I decided that he needed concrete qualities contained in a physical form. But I love the abstract, because it doesn’t build fences around the imagination. So how does an author combine these two classes of dark lord without sacrificing their individual strengths; how does one mix the old with the new, high fantasy with contemporary young-adult fantasy?


Introducing the dark pillar fae Jakal.


A Wicked Kind of Dark – August 2013.

Fresh Thinking – A Wicked Kind of Dark – Jonathan K Benton

Jonathan small file‘Toot Fraakyl’ is an ancient greeting used by Allaria, a beautiful (and she knows it) little fae that lights up A Wicked Kind of Dark. If Allaria greets somebody this way, particularly if she’s met them before, the phrase reminds her to set aside prejudices, and start anew. This is especially important when dealing with stereotypes. Not all dwarfs are loud, nor pixies mischievous. Goblins are rarely rude.


So don’t be deceived by Allaria’s small size and big personality. She has the wisdom of the ages behind her.


Fresh thinking, or looking at stuff from different angles, is a useful tool in our own lives. The bar wouldn’t be set quite so high if Dick Fosbury hadn’t thought outside the box.

A thousand smiles

Jonathan Benton

Imbalance – by Jonathan Benton

jkbA recent article in the paper highlighted yet another heart-breaking example of the imbalance that exists in this far from perfect world. An undercover cop wrote about how she used to visit addicts’ houses and witness parents taking drugs while their kids played in the same room. Images of sorrow and neglect.


I believe in a future where technological advances and evolution (or God’s rule if that’s the way it’s going to be – I simply don’t know) have shed this pointless want to hoard, replacing it with a belief that Earth is a village. It’s the simple big-picture truth anyway. Balance would govern this future. The insecure few might say I am plugging one political system over another – I’m not. Blaming politics is a cop-out anyway – an addict doesn’t get better by pointing the finger at others. We must take ownership for our society, our humanity.


But the distant future does not help the neglected child sitting in a corner, right now, clutching a teddy, watching their mum or dad numbing themselves with drugs.


I will give to the needy.

I will go out of my way to help others.

I will be more aware, and I will always listen.


I do these things anyway, but not enough. It’ll never be enough until every child is freed from the shackles of abuse and neglect.



Trailers – Jonathan K Benton

04I spent a couple of hours a few weeks ago dressed in an ankle-length, hooded black cloak walking up and down a dark Brisbane alley. If I ended the blog here, people might call the police, so allow me to elaborate. Dave Silay, a good friend and photographer (check out his awesome Facebook page which you can access through the partners section of my website), joined me to take a series of photos. These gritty urban images will form the backbone of a trailer.


I have written a storyboard for the trailer, but I don’t possess the technical skills needed to produce the finished article. My talented publisher will help.


Here are four ingredients that I believe are required to make a great trailer.



Whether the trailer is filmed, or a series of images, it needs to make sense. Random scenes and images in a short space of time won’t leave a lasting impression. A trailer isn’t an art exhibition – although most exhibitions still possess themes.


The first and last five seconds:

Be sure to grab viewers in the first five seconds – otherwise they will move on. Be equally sure to leave people wanting to read the book.



If the trailer looks like its advertising a coffee-table book about gardens, then readers who love young adult fantasy will not want to read the book.



I think this is the hardest one to achieve. It’s also the most important. The trailer has to stand out from the pile. Dare to be different.


Yours truly