There be good reviews, and there be bad, as the pirates would say. A critical review from someone who didn’t like your work is still a good review – carefully considered criticism can be extremely useful. I learn from some of the criticisms levelled at my own work. People must be allowed to have opinions, including whether they like, or dislike, a novel. The nasty reviews from people, who think abuse is some kind of intelligent criticism, are wasting everybody’s time. They reveal more about the reviewer’s character (or lack of) than the book itself.
I’m deep into my next book, using the five P’s to make sure my writing is improving, so it was a nice surprise to receive an email from my publisher advising me that an Amazon top 500 reviewer had read and reviewed A Wicked Kind of Dark (published by Odyssey Books 2013). Pop Bop has a way with words – I enjoyed reading the review for this reason alone. It was also nice to know that someone with such great command of the English language enjoyed reading my book.
So … A big thanks to Pop Bop and all those people who take the time to read and write carefully considered reviews. We authors appreciate it.
Jonathan K Benton
I was watching a documentary about Queen and realised that parallels can be drawn between a super group and a great book. Each member of Queen brought their own unique elements to the mix, that when combined, clicked to make extraordinary music.
A great book is a successful combination of elements too: Plot, Theme, Structure , Voice and Character. Think of these things as members of a super group. If you can successfully meld them into a novel, you’ll make ‘A Kind of Magic’ too.
Jonathan K Benton
Halfway 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
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.
I believe that most people are good. If the reverse is true then humanity is in a whole lot of trouble.
Being good doesn’t mean being perfect. We are all capable of behaving selfishly – perfection is mostly subjective anyway. An example of good is this: if we saw a child crying, and if it were obvious that child was lost, we would ensure the child’s safety by delivering him or her to the appropriate authorities or caregivers. I believe 95% of people would act this way, their sole motive to protect the child.
Anything can happen in the future and I’m sure it will. I think our concept of wealth will change: is changing. Various forms of evolution like technology will redefine our notion of what a reward actually is. In the distant future, money will not exist. Greed will be a thing of the past, assigned to the history books. Reward will be defined by the depth of the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, with the Universe itself. These things are infinite – material possessions are not.
Left-Right debates in terms of politics are largely pointless. It’s a bell curve, anyway, and most people sit somewhere in the middle. There are extremes (I’m not referring to ‘extreme’ in terms of terrorism) on both sides. We must remember that the people sitting on the edges of the bell curve are just as likely to be ‘good’ people as those in the middle. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. Extremes propel us towards a balanced future; they are the narrow walls of the river canyon. Humanity is the river that will emerge from that canyon into a tranquil meandering waterway leaving the extremes behind. The river is always more powerful than the rock. There will be no such thing as left/right, liberal/labour, democratic/republican in a few hundred years as we move towards an economic system completely alien to anything we know today. The goods and services will be different, the resources foreign. Freedom of choice – and I fervently believe in an individual’s right to choose – is the way forward. It nourishes and moulds our future.
Bill Gates gave his opinion (click here) on how the world improved in 2013: the worldwide poverty rate went down and so did the rate of child mortality. These are positive developments. Little steps towards a bright new future.
Serious exponents of change don’t lecture us on getting from A to C without telling us how to deal with B. B is the roadmap, the transition period. It takes real brilliance to understand B. Most ideologues who loudly advocate change possess no realistic idea how to achieve it. They will use key words to obfuscate their lack of understanding. Search for that rare and brilliant individual who can transition.
I’m aiming to finish my next novel by September this year. It’s a heady mix of fantasy and adventure with a pinch of literary cleverness. I’m excited to be working with an entirely fresh set of characters. Australia is a great setting for any book and I love Minaea.
Have a great 2014
You’re beautiful – yes that’s you. Everybody.
Jonathan K Benton
Music has always played (excuse the pun) a massive part in my life. I love how it makes me feel, what it means to me, its magic and its power. I listen to all genres, everything from the soaring rock anthems of Queen to Lorde’s 2013 hit Royals and Flumes haunting trance-like ballad Insane. Every once in while along comes a song that I need to hear. Timing has a lot to do with it. The song might have been around for years, centuries in some cases, but I stumbled upon it when I needed to hear it most. Here’s a list of ten such songs. I would love to know what songs have been there for you.
1) Moonlight Sonata: Beethoven 1801
2) Time: Pink Floyd 1973.
3) Life on Mars: David Bowie 1976
4) Back in Black: ACDC 1980
5) Romeo and Juliet: Dire Straits 1980
6) Street Spirit (Fade Out): Radiohead 1995
7) Better off Alone: Alice Deejay 1998
8) Lose Yourself: Eminem 2002
9) Resistance: Muse 2009
10) Insane feat. Moon Holiday: Flume 2013
Feel free to contact me if you want to know how these songs helped me to move on: pick a song and I will tell you what was going on in my life at this time.
Jonathan K Benton
Minaea is a difficult world to map – the constantly changing Outerlands need to be updated on a daily basis. They are as abstract and eclectic as the imagination itself. The more earthly familiar Corelands and Borderlands can be mapped; the issue lay in finding a cartographer capable of reaching inside his or her imagination deep enough to travel to Minaea and correctly interpret the geography.
The current map featured on www.jonathankbenton.com.au is based on word of mouth, therefore it isn’t reliable. Fae would get lost if they used it, and likely flattened by a stone giant or slurped up by a troll. I had to find a cartographer who understood the power of imagination, and the world in which it led too.
Josh Bracken travelled to Minaea, and was able to provide us with an accurate map of the Corelands and Borderlands. To map the Outerlands would have taken Josh an eternity – literally. But the map does indicate where the Outerlands can be found, and how to get there for those daring enough to explore infinity.
Josh’s magical map will be revealed shortly, together with some more exciting images of Minaea.
A thousand smiles
Always 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