Hooray for being a Kiwi! – Jonathan K Benton

new zealandFeeling a little home sick: it’s times like this that I love being a Kiwi. Pink Floyd’s new album reached number one in NZ. I’ve always known Kiwi’s have great taste. My B’day is just around the corner and I only want one thing (apart from world peace and a candlelit dinner with Darth Vader): Floyd’s The Endless River.

DV dinnerIt might seem like I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere, but I’ve been buried in my new manuscript, estimated date of completion February 2015. Loving this thing called writing.

I’ll blog more – promise.


There’s not enough time but there's always time for a writing tip – Jonathan K Benton

writing tip and updateI’m approaching the end of my new manuscript and I’m really excited. This book has been a collaborative effort – I’ve realised that you don’t have to write solo. My mentor’s contribution has been immense and I’m kind of hoping she’ll continue to work with me as my writing grows. I don’t think the manuscript will be ready until February but I can taste the final sentence. It’s not far off.

Which is the reason I haven’t blogged for the last two weeks. My apologies. It also explains why this week’s blog is short and sweet. My manuscript consumes me at the moment. Yesterday I managed to squeeze in a course at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival held by the energetic, witty and intelligent Lenny Bartulin – I was so impressed by him I raced out and bought one of his books. Infamy is the next book on my reading pile, behind Anna Dressed in Blood.

Here’s something I learned at the course – six questions you need to ask yourself when starting to write a novel. I can’t read my scrawling notes so I apologise if I am misquoting the source – I believes it’s Robert Mckee.

  • Who are the characters?
  • What do they want (desire – in its myriad forms – moves the story forward)?
  • Why do they want it?
  • How do they go about getting it?
  • What stops them?
  • What are the consequences?


Jonathan K Benton

Two more P's and a progress update – Jonathan K Benton

writing updateHalfway through the year, and I’m about to start writing the climax to my new novel. It’s Part One of a young adult fantasy trilogy and should be finished by January 2014. I’ve spent the last nine months polishing the rest of it. It has taken me two years to write, so far.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the three P’s being the three keys to getting published. There are a couple of other P’s that deserve a mention, so I have updated the post to the ‘Five P’s – I promise no more P’s!


Jonathan K Benton

Then the news came on – Jonathan K Benton

angel despairIt’s hard to blog deep every week. I have to mix it up because most of my creative energy is spent on my new manuscript. Sometimes an idea germinates and I’m driven into a flurry of blogging activity, like what happened here.

I’m sitting in front of the television after a day on the computer. It’s late Saturday night and I’m trying to scrape together something interesting to blog about. I can relate to Oscar Wilde when he said: ‘I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again’.

Then the news came on. It’s the 21st Century and there are wars popping up everywhere. Governments (not countries) are still behaving like playground bullies. Good people are suffering because we cannot sort out our shit. It makes me physically sick. Our children deserve to inherit a safer world. I’ve decided to leave you with three questions. If there are a whole lot more good people than bad in this world (and I believe there are), why does it sometimes feel like there are not? Is it just a case of a few power-drunk bad apples spoiling the bunch? How do we stop them?

My heart goes out to the good citizens of Ukraine and everyone else forced to live in fear.

Jonathan K Benton

A Tale of Two Presidents – Jonathan K Benton


A Tale of Two Presidents

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of life-saving medical advancement, it was the age of life-taking weapons of mass destruction; it was the spring of freedom of choice, it was the winter of poverty and oppression. It was the weekend when a group of kids got together to celebrate my boy’s fifth birthday, it was the weekend when Vladimir Putin called Barack Obama to discuss World War Three.

You, me, us. We need to stop the shit so that every child on this planet can enjoy every birthday to a ripe old age.



Jonathan K Benton





Please note: Charles Dickens’s brilliant first paragraph in A Tale of Two Cities (read it here) kicks all other opening paragraphs out of the literary ball park.  His words are as a relevant today as they were 200 hundred years ago.

Sometimes it's important not to write – and my thought for the week. Jonathan K Benton

lonely writerWriting tip:

Yesterday was one of my most productive days yet, and I didn’t write a single word. I sat in a café with two extremely talented individuals discussing our respective manuscripts. Discussing ideas is important – I now have a fresh and exciting twist on a new demon world. One of my main protagonists has been dressed appropriately, taking into account her personality, and her needs. Parts of the dialogue will be strengthened too. A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective – these things are invaluable when writing a manuscript. Don’t be too precious about your work. Share ideas and the manuscript will grow.

 Thought for the week:

This is worrying. Click here. Many theories are disproven. Some theories become fact. Population is a problem. We don’t yet have the technology to support our burgeoning numbers. I believe we’ll work something out. We’ve proven ourselves to be remarkably resourceful, as the astronauts of Apollo 13 showed on their dramatic return to Earth. The fact they left Earth at all earns us a gold star in ingenuity. Let’s not wait until we’re forced to save ourselves, though. Let’s do something about it now.


Jonathan K Benton

The Prologue for my next book and a Q and A with the main character – Jonathan K Benton


So this is fear.

The man stood trembling on the edge of the plank as dark clouds tumbled towards the boat. The approaching storm sent cannonballs of wind to clear its path. Inside the storm, the ocean was black. Outside, it churned blue. The water was rising and the sky was falling. Something had to give.

Swells rolled towards the North Australian coast, trying to dislodge the man, who was naked apart from a pair of white boxers stained yellow with urine. He was also bald, with a chunky physique, and beady close-together eyes. Angry red welts criss-crossed his back, and burns blistered his cheeks like chicken pox. Desperate for fresh water, he licked his cracked lips, tasting salt mixed with blood

The man had not felt fear before.  He had seen it in others – that silent scream trapped inside wide, white eyes. Sometimes, like steam whistling from a kettle, the scream escaped, and sometimes it hid itself in short, sharp breaths which mirrored the rapidly beating heart.

Fear made its own noise. Horror movies captured it perfectly: psychopaths plunging their knives in time to fear’s screech. Sitting in the comfort of the theatre, the man had thought that noise beautiful, but now he was the victim.

Fear screeched through his body as he overbalanced, falling heavily onto the plank. Scrabbling, he managed to cling to the wood. His willpower abandoned ship. The man closed his eyes, expecting to die.



 Q & A

Jack is the main character in my next book. He’s agreed to an interview. I’ll be asking him questions at the end of some of my blogs. Part of Jack’s contract stipulates he cannot reveal specifics about himself and his past – it would ruin the story. Some people might say this interview is an exercise in dialogue. Others could suggest it’s a unique way to introduce readers to a character before he’s officially unveiled to the world.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Jack.

A: No worries.


Q: You’ve been through a lot.

A: Yeah, but I’m not the only one in this world with problems.


Q: Do you have any advice for people who’ve had similar experiences to you?

A: Just the usual things. You know – stay strong. Don’t give up. It’s all right to ask for help sometimes.


Q: Have you always followed this advice

A: Tried to, but it’s harder than you think – especially when a creature from another dimension wants to bite your head off.


Jonathan K. Benton

Returning to the keyboard – Book 2 of my young adult fantasy series

dragonI’m on holiday, which means writing. I’ve given myself four weeks to finish the first draft of the next book in the Minaea Chronicles. I’m loving returning to Minaea. I’m also enjoying the change of scenery on Earth for Part 2 – Australia this time. The landscapes in my adopted country are magnificent. I have travelled widely here and I’m constantly inspired. I’ve camped at the top of Cape York, and woken up to find a crocodile track etched into the sand ten metres from my tent. I’ve sailed up the coast of NSW past sparkling white dunes that seem to stretch on forever. Australia – where there’s something for everyone. Including my characters.

I’m introducing some new characters in Part 2. I’m also developing the existing protagonists. Luthien – how does someone overcome waking from a seven-year coma? Will Robert’s memory return for good? Is Jakal really dead?

Part 2 is much more menacing than A Wicked Kind of Dark  . But I feel it’s important to mix darkness with humour, like The Empire Strikes Back. Definitely the darkest movie in the original Star Wars trilogy, Han Solo still managed to make audiences laugh. ‘Never tell me the odds,’ Han said in response to C3PO stating the statistical probability of surviving an asteroid field. I once used Han’s words when someone told me how difficult it was to get published.

Postscript: I watched Silver Linings Playbook last night. Nothing like a well-made rom-com to help you feel better after a rough day.

A Wicked Kind of Dark – Book signing – Angus and Robertson Post Office Square


Angus and Robertson are holding a book signing for A Wicked Kind of Dark at their Post Office Square store in Brisbane’s CBD on Thursday 19th September. I’ll be there between 12 and 2.30 pm to sign copies.

I live in Brisbane so this will be the unofficial second launch. I won’t be making a speech but I’m happy to chat. I’d love to see you there.

Live long and prosper, may the force be with you AND

I’ll be back


Jonathan K Benton

Writing a speech – tips for a book launch.

31 I was going to write a detailed account of the book launch until I realised most of what I wanted to say I’d already said in my speech … So I’ll simply copy and paste my speech into this blog. Who knows – you might find some useful tips. An author mustn’t talk about their book much (during their own speech). That role is for the person launching your novel, in my case the brilliant Irina Dunn. I needed to talk about how I got there, to that moment, standing holding a copy of A Wicked Kind of Dark in front of family, friends and book-industry guests.



The jazz band introduced me to Star Wars’s Imperial March:


Being introduced to Darth Vader music was always a dream of mine. The other dream was to get published. That’s two boxes ticked today.

(Thank yous)

33One of the first books I remember reading was a collection of illustrated nursery rhymes. I used to imagine I was part of the illustrated worlds written about in the book. Who Killed Cock Robin was the stand-out rhyme in this collection … ‘I said the sparrow with my bow and arrow, I killed cock robin’. That murderous little sparrow proudly declaring its guilt used to keep me up late at night. Even way back then, I marveled at the power of the written word … Even way back then I knew I wanted to write my own stories.

I was a better author when I was 14 than when I first started developing the craft. Whenever I wrote a story I either won a competition or got top marks.  But as I stumbled through my teens I lost my writer’s voice. The car accident – such a huge part of my life. It still is – hardly a day goes by that I don’t wonder what Julie King would be doing now if she was alive.

59All these experiences muted my expression. But it’s these same experiences that now fuel my creative engine room. They are what makes me want to, as Stephen King puts it in Lisey’s story: ‘Go out in my flimsy wooden boat and capture the big ones’. The big stories, the compelling tales from the pool of life.

I’ve lived in a quartet of countries, each one an essential part of my journey to publication.

In many ways Fiji saved me. I swear – if anyone is experiencing tough times I recommend they get on a plane to Nadi, find a reef, throw on some scuba and sink beneath the swells. The underwater world is easily as good as any of the great fantasy landscapes of literature. Being a PADI Divemaster, and looking after the people I used to take diving, centered me. It gave me a sense of responsibility that I don’t think I had until Fiji.

England. Rather than base myself in Earl’s Court with the other Kiwis and Aussies, I found a quiet little English village, and immersed myself in its culture for two years. How a small town could have 7 pubs I’ll never know – I was drinking back then though. Several pubs probably filed for bankruptcy once I left. New Zealand. Another beautiful country, and Australia, the place I now call home.

25I arrived here in Australia, and with the help of a trilogy of wonderful mentors – Jan, Sean and Irina – I was able to reconnect with my author’s voice and re-learn the craft. A Wicked Kind of Dark is all about reconnecting too. Reconnecting with your inner child, reconnecting with the richness of that part of your imagination. We seem to have so much imagination when we’re young. I don’t believe we ever really lose it!

Young adults … What a wonderful market to write for. What an amazing, energizing and inspiring group of people. I believe they deserve books that have layers, thought-provoking books. I certainly enjoyed those kinds of books when I was a strapping young lad! Books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Something Wicked this Way Comes. AND I’m hoping A Wicked Kind of Dark. But writing is a balancing act. One of my mentors – Jan – once told me his thoughts on Moby Dick: what is the significance of the white whale; what are the deep underlying messages; how these questions have been discussed and debated  in the ivory towers around the world. Jan then went on to say that Moby Dick wouldn’t be talked about at all without it first being a ripping good yarn. That is the kind of balance in their literature that I think young adults deserve.