Saturday Night Fever – Jonathan K Benton

GROVER-Saturday-Night-FeverI always have good intentions surrounding my blog. Big ideas. Global peace and the betterment of humankind. Then Saturday rocks around and I’m staring at an empty page.

Thank goodness for Saturday night television and the plethora of movies that I’d already seen. I picked one of the greatest movies this side of 2000 AD and used the ads to channel surf the other six.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Great special FX could not save this one.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I think it’s the best of the series.

Men in Black 2. It’s fun, but suffers from the same spit and polish issues as most sequels (Terminator 2 and The Empire Strikes Back are rare examples of sequels improving their respective stories).

Six Days and Seven Nights. No comment.

New Years Eve. It’s nice, but it’s no Love Actually.

Miami Vice. Hmmm.

When the ads finished, I returned to the truly great film. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. I give it a Wow rating. Yep – it’s that good. Brilliant scripting; it’s quirky and original, and superbly acted. I loved spending Saturday night with Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers and thank them for inspiring this blog.

Let me know a movie that you think deserves a Wow rating (or even a Terrifying rating based on my unique system) and I’ll watch it.

Jonathan K Benton

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And some people with whom I shared the theatre

captain americaI saw the latest instalment of Captain America  on Easter Friday and boy did I love it. He’s not the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe but he’s one of the coolest – in a geeky kind of way. I give this movie a Wow rating.

Have you ever sat next to a popcorn rustler before? I didn’t know they existed until Easter Friday. I asked my partner why anyone would rustle a box of popcorn and she advised me that it shakes the popped popcorn to the top … apparently. I wanted to shake the man rustling the popcorn.

Why any parent would bring a toddler to an M-rated movie is beyond me. It’s very sad. I should have told the ushers. I think I will next time.

Finally – Darth Vader is the most powerful being in the universe. This is a FACT.

Jonathan K Benton

Queensland’s largest newspaper The Courier-Mail reviews A Wicked Kind of Dark


Courier Mail 1I truly love it here in Queensland. The support given to me by the people of this justifiably proud and beautiful State has been overwhelming. Councillor for the Deagon Ward, the amazing Victoria Newton, read and recommended A Wicked Kind of Dark to the Brisbane City Council libraries. The sensational Jacqueline Husson from one of my favourite papers the Bayside and Northern Suburbs Star interviewed me, and now Queensland’s largest newspaper The Courier-Mail has run the following book review:


‘Brisbane writer Jonathan K Benton has created a parallel world of magic interwoven with reality in this dramatic debut tale of good and evil.


Young hero Robert Duncan refuses to believe in the supernatural until a chilling phone call from an unknown woman forces him to remember his past and his childhood sweetheart. Robert finds himself thrust into the dark, dangerous world of Minaea, where magic is everywhere and humans are forbidden. But a powerful demon threatens to overshadow the good of Minaea and, to save the world from darkness, Robert must find his lost friend Luthien before the next blood moon.


Dripping with descriptive language, A Wicked Kind of Dark is a sinister kind of fairy tale that grips readers from the first chapter. It is a climactic tale for teens that explores the limitless power of the imagination.’


A big thank you to The Courier-Mail

This link will take you to a smorgasbord of places where you can purchase A Wicked Kind of Dark.

And thank you, Queensland.


I love the Sunshine State

Jonathan K Benton

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A Wicked Kind of Dark – what is literary fantasy? Jonathan K Benton

Madur-woodI think the best explanation I’ve found for the genre in which my writing sits goes something like this: Books that are written to entertain with words as much as plot. Books like Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Christopher Priest’s The Glamour, and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Most YA books – and I read a lot of them – are not literary (in the genre sense only). This doesn’t mean they are not brilliant and clever. They are. I loved The Hunger Games, absolutely adored it. But my classically influenced style lends itself towards literary fantasy. I was invited to participate in the ‘Books that changed me’ column in The Sun Herald. The column shows how I arrived at this amazing genre.


Top Ten Reasons I Write: It’s all about the books!

minaea-desktop4-preview1)       The Lord of the Rings:

The Lord of the Rings was always going to be on this list. However, why number one? The writing is not as rich as Something Wicked this Way Comes, and not as clever (in a literary sense) as Dickens’s or Heller’s featured works. But for me, reading The Lord of the Rings was an out of body experience. Tolkien’s masterpiece transported me to Middle-earth and kept me there for all of its 1000 + pages. Part of me remains there still. That’s what a great book should do.


2)      A Tale of Two Cities:

If this list was about beginnings and endings, then A Tale of Two Cities would be No. 1. The middle is fantastic too. Dickens uses knitting needles to build dramatic tension. How clever is that!


3)      It:

It was raining in New Zealand when I first entered the fictional town of Derry, Maine. The weather wasn’t much better in Derry. I knew something awful was about to happen: Enter Pennywise. For those who suffer coulrophobia (fear of clowns, although I couldn’t find the word in my edition of the Macquarie Dictionary), don’t read It. Like Peter Pan, It eulogises how important it is not to lose touch with your inner child. It is a terrifying book; terrifyingly good too.


4)      Magician:

Fantasy is my ‘go to’ genre. Feist’s magnum opus towers above most other high fantasy novels. Faster paced than The Lord of the Rings, and almost as epic, Magician showed me the muscle that powerful magic can bring to a novel.


5)      Catch 22:

Life is chaos. Novels take a slice of this chaos and try to make some sense of it. Catch 22 makes sense of it all. That is why the book reads crazily. Crazy brilliant I say.


6)      The Hunger Games:

Every few years, I read a novel that takes my breath away. The Hunger Games is one of those novels. Suzanne Collins’s first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy is destined to become a classic.


7)      The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:

Crossover genres sometimes never reach their intended audiences because too much is sacrificed in the mix. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time mixes genres perfectly: in fact, I believe Mark Haddon’s book wouldn’t work quite so well without crossing over. A literary children’s novel. Brilliant.


8)      The Magical Faraway Tree:

I have climbed the Faraway Tree many times. I have used the slippery slip repeatedly and revisited all the lands at the top of this most excellent tree.  I cannot pinpoint what inspired my love of fantasy – was it the classic fairytales I used to read by torchlight under my doona, or was it Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. Either way, Jo, Dick, Fanny and Bessie played major roles in funnelling me towards fantasy.


9)      Amazon Adventure:

Willard Price’s ‘Adventure Series’ took me all over the world – and I didn’t need to leave New Zealand.


10)   Something Wicked This Way Comes:

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Like Shakespeare, Bradbury writes beautiful prose: rich and layered; full of wonderful images, his characters cleverly drawn. ‘There be good books, and there be bad’. Bradbury writes the good ones.

By Jonathan Benton

Jonathan K Benton – On books

jkbLife is chaotic, which is not a bad thing. It just means there are infinite possibilities, lots of potential. It also means don’t ever give up. There might be something incredible waiting for you centimetres (or inches) down your timeline. I won’t lie – there could be something frightening too, but we must search for the good in life. There is a lot of it.


Novels take a slice of this chaos and mould it into something that makes sense. Catch 22 is the only book I know that successfully captures the ‘big picture’. Milo Minderbinder is a brilliant character, and Yossarian most definitely lives. Fantasy is no different. We readers like to relate to stuff – especially characters. That’s why every significant character possesses human traits. Hazel the rabbit from Watership Down couldn’t be more human. Robert Jordan turned honour into a character and gave him a name: Rand al’Thor. Some characters are more nuanced than others, perhaps because the novel is character driven, rather than plot driven. But we must relate to characters.


What constitutes a great book? This question causes heated debates, and because of the chaotic nature of life, there is no right answer. Some argue copies sold – a sound argument. If a book brings pleasure to a large amount of people, then it is doing exactly what a book is meant to do, more so than a less popular book. Others argue a great book must be thought-provoking, full of cleverness and beautiful writing. A fair assessment perhaps? No, because there is no right answer. Books inspire individuals, and we must accept that individuals are unique, and being unique is beautiful (as long as you’re not hurting others).


Yours truly



Jonathan K Benton – Ranking Movies

jkbTime wasters: these films owe us all an apology. The only good thing about time wasters, is that they are utterly forgettable. They fill up the empty spaces in DVD stores, preying on the indecisive (and occasionally adventurous) consumer.


Bearable: exactly that. If you’ve got nothing better to do, and you don’t feel like sleeping, then why not watch a bearable movie. It might have a weak plot, but passable cinematography; alright script, but poor acting.  If anything, a bearable movie will give you something to complain about.


Good movie: good isn’t a great word but these films can be watched again. They might even draw a tear, or surprise a laugh.


Wow movie: most classics (and destined to be classics) fit into this category. The Godfather, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Forest Gump, The Silence of the Lambs – the list goes on and some of these films can crossover into the final category. Everything works in these movies; acting, directing, scripting.


Terrifying movie: this final deeply personal category evokes such profound emotions in us that we are terrified to revisit the experience for fear of losing ourselves in their vast transformational depths. Terrifying movies are unique to the individual – what touches me might not have the same effect on you, reciprocated. They are addictive films, ones that linger in our thoughts, and remain with us forever. Two films that have terrified me are Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful. Subtitles aren’t usually my thing, so it is testament to the harrowing nature of these films. They took me on a journey of extremes, soaring joy and deep, wrenching sorrow.

I watched a Wow movie on DVD last night. Definitely a classic fantasy. Labyrinth. The masquerade ball scene is haunting and beautiful.