What: Book talk and Signing
Who: Ben Aaronovich
Where: Waterstone’s Guildford, Surrey
When: Friday 22nd June 2012
Why: to promote Whispers Under ground, book three in the Rivers Of London series.
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.
At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil.
Having just made the talk by the skin of my teeth (no thanks to the ridiculous and unusually busy Guildford traffic), I managed to slink in at the very back. This isn’t so good when you’re borderline deaf in one ear with the other ear not much better, and once through vanity, now through laziness, I never bothered to get a hearing aid. But ho hum. I think I managed to hear the majority of the talk, apologies in advance then if I had misheard anything and start reciting a load of nonsense!
When Ben Aaronovitch(who, from now on will just be ‘Ben’ for the sake of my sanity) arrived you could so tell by his manner that he wasn’t used to doing talks etc. That, and the fact that this is the first thing he told us along with the fact that he hadn’t prepared any notes in advance so was pretty much going to ‘wing it’.
This I guess is Ben all over. A self confessed ‘geek’ who can’t quite believe that his ‘urban fantasy police series’ or as Ben prefers, ‘Magic cops’ has become so universally popular. Ben still tries to get his head round people’s gran’s and middle class women’s book groups enjoying his work alongside the more stereotypical fan base of pasty, spotty teenagers who could recite the entire narrative of the episodes he wrote for Doctor Who without a seconds hesitation.
Ben must have felt right at home in Waterstones as that is where he used to work. He remembers handling so many books by debut authors and thinking, ‘I could do better than that’ that prompted him to start writing. It also explains the intricately beautiful covers on his books as Ben realised how books needed to stand out and be identifiable just by their spines when sat on shop floor book shelves.
Ben explained how some of his ‘one off’ characters just wouldn’t go away. For instance Beverley Brook’s role was supposed to be limited to opening the door in, ‘The Rivers of London’ but somehow she just kept popping up until she became a character that people connected to and needed to know what would happen to her. The common problem with this though is that sequels start to get longer and longer as more and more characters within the book need their own stories told which is a problem for Ben bless him as trying to keep within his publishers deadlines is enough of a challenge let alone having to write more than the agreed word count to try and fit everything in!
Ben confessed that he does enjoy writing about Inspector Nightingale’s character in particular. He will even talk and act very posh to try and capture Nightingales reserved, middle class character. Ben has deliberately ensured that Nightingale is busy with the faceless man and the crocodile club in ‘Whispers underground’ so as not to interfere too much with Peter Grants investigation, knowing that Nightingales methods are to eliminate any threat quickly and efficiently as opposed to Peter’s more holistic approach.
Even though Peter Grant’s dad famously plays jazz, and ‘Moon under Soho’ is very much based on the historical Soho jazz scene, Ben admitted that he doesn’t actually like Jazz! Instead he relies on a good friend to give appropriate music recommendations to add authenticity to his story.
Abigail, a family relation of Peter Grant does have a bigger role in, ‘Whispers Underground’ but apparently will be stepping back in book 4 as Ben is looking into Abigail having her own, spin off book series. Due to Abigail’s age I’m going to assume that this series will fit into the young adult genre and will be something I will look forward to reading!
I always assumed that Ben had personal links to the police force due to his knowledge of police life. I was obviously surprised then to hear that the police are willing to tell you anything you need to know as long as the price is right……although Ben was keen to point out that they have a specific public media officer person thingy, where you contact them saying, ‘I’d like to speak to a 20-30yrs old, male traffic police officer, working in South London’ and if there is someone that fits that criteria and, with the added financial incentive is willing, he then gets the information he needs, all legit and from the horses mouth, so to speak.
Amusingly, Ben has lists. Anyone who in real life or on the Internet that annoys Ben may find their name on his list. When Ben needs a name for a character destined to die, guess where he looks first for inspiration! If on the other hand you’d quite like to be on that list, and the messier the death the better, then may I suggest you start trolling the web and being distinctly unpleasant about Sci-fi. Then you never know, you might find yourself in book 4!
Verdict: I really enjoyed meeting Ben and he came across as a lovely guy. I am also very grateful for getting the chance to read this brilliant series including book 3, ‘Whispers Underground’ that has just been released.
If you like the sound of Ben’s work or are already a fan, keep checking out our site as very soon we will be announcing a huge giveaway including the chance to receive a signed HB copy of the recently released,’Whispers Underground’.
Post by Karen