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Interview with Benjamin Thomas, author of Jack Be Quick

Here’s my interview with my pal and special guest Benjamin Thomas. He’s the writer of Jack Be Quick, and a fellow Owl Hollow Press author. He loves writing and Souls games, so he’s good people!

*Clears throat*

Hi Benjamin. Your debut novel Jack Be Quick has been a big success. Is your life any different now that it’s out in the world?

Thank you for saying that about Jack. It’s definitely been a fun ride. My day-to-day life isn’t any different aside from the few events here and there that I’m doing to continue support for the novel, but one thing that is different is this incredible group of writers I have around me now on social media, specifically Twitter. Yourself being one of them. I was never, ever one for social media and it is only because of an editor I worked with prior to Jack that I even had Twitter to begin with, but it’s been worth it. Had some seriously good laughs with other writers and even though we’ve never met I feel like we could all walk into a pub and it would be like we’ve known each other our entire lives.

Can you tell us about the book? What’s your favourite scene and why?

So, Jack Be Quick follows a paramedic, Noah McKeen, who, after suffering an on-the-job injury, becomes wrapped up with someone attempting to recreate the Ripper murders. Favorite scene? Hmm. Without giving a lot away, there’s a scene that follows Noah through a painkiller withdrawal fueled lucid dream that takes place in a Gothic-style church and kind of involves an idea around the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Anyway, I was playing a lot of Bloodborne at the time and also infatuated with this television show The Killing (which is a fantastic show for anyone who hasn’t seen it) and when I went back to edit the scene later the influence from these two external things was both abundant and apparent. And I just think that’s cool because it illustrates the mindset I was in at the time and sort of where I was in the head space, you know?

Noah McKeen has a tough time in this book! What do you think is the most important aspect of his character? What defines him?

As a paramedic, Noah has been exposed to and witnessed awful points in people’s lives. A decade of this has cemented the fact that happy endings are really just for fairy tales. It doesn’t stop him from fighting for the best possible outcome in his own world, but I think having that knowledge in the back of his head, really knowing that despite my efforts this probably isn’t going to work out, kind of keeps him grounded. I don’t know if that makes sense but I think it’s important for his character to realize that.

What has been the hardest part of bringing this novel to life?

Some of the rewrites were difficult. I say this, but my editors at Owl Hollow Press were fantastic to work with and they really took the time to explain their thought process behind certain things they wanted to see done differently rather than just highlighting sections and say ‘change this’. That collective teamwork made a challenging part of the process actually enjoyable.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice before you started writing, what would it be?

Two things: First, don’t compare yourself to others. It took me awhile to realize how different each writer’s path is. Never mind the one less traveled, we’re all blindly stumbling through an overgrown forest looking for the same shiny lake. We’ll get there. It’s just going to be different for each of us. Second, impostor syndrome is real. It’s real, it sucks, and it isn’t going to go away. Learn to live with it and don’t let it claw at you.

You’ve done Jack the Ripper. Will you explore other characters from history now? Or other unsolved mysteries?

I’d like to. I think one of the things that makes Jack the Ripper permeate with a lot of people is the fact that he or she is an unsolved mystery. And not knowing is what fascinates us. I don’t know about other murderers. The Zodiac Killer was interesting to read and learn about, but if I was going to go straight unsolved mystery or something debated, I have an inkling to maybe lean towards Roswell. But who knows.

What are you working on now?

A few things. I’m trying to balance short pieces with longer work. It’s fun, good to practice in a different style, and keeps the creativity going. My last short story Songs We Play When We Pretend We’re Ourselves came out last month in The Lascaux Review and I’m working through a few more with my writer’s group. As far as longer works, I have two I’m rotating through various stages in the process: edit one, re-draft the other, to give time in between each stage and keep a fresh eye. I can’t talk to much about them because then, at least in my head, I’ll jinx them, but I’ll say that they’re both horror. One speculative and more dark fantasy, while the other is deeply rooted in the medical world just horror versus thriller.

And what are some of your dream projects? What would you love to have a crack at writing one day?

To work with J.J. Abrams. Hands down. Or even just grab coffee and BS with him about different aspects of story-telling. His TED talk about keeping mystery is amazing. I’d also love to try writing for video games one day. I know you have experience in that area and I think that’s awesome. I love dialogue and feel that it’s a huge part in a lot of major game releases these days. I’d also, even though it’s not writing related but since we’re on the subject of games, I would love to try voice acting one day. I think I’d probably be laughably awful at it, but hey, people sing karaoke right? I can’t be any worse than that.

Souls time! What’s your go-to build for Souls games? I would guess dex with dual katanas. Am I right?

Ah, the good stuff! You would guess correct! Though no katanas. I’m a huge fan of sword and shield. But I like fast-paced, squeeze a lot of little jabs and slices in then evade like crazy. So much fun.

Best and worst Souls games areas?

Hmm. My favorite area would be the Painted World of Ariamis from Dark Souls 1. Absolutely loved it. Followed immediately by Cainhurst Castle in Bloodborne. Worst area? I don’t know if I would say there were any particularly bad areas. Just ones that were more of an annoyance to navigate through. The Forbidden Woods was obnoxious. But the boss at the end was fantastic so I guess it makes up for it.

Quickfire round!

  • If you had to meet one of your characters for lunch in real life, who would it be?

From Jack – Detective Madsen ; overall? there was a character named Logan from a cyberpunk novel I trunked a long time ago. He’s probably my favorite, I just could never get his story right.

  • Prequel or original trilogy?

Original trilogy with more Kenobi.

  • Last Jedi – triumph or tragedy?

Triumph of nostalgia – tragedy in pacing.

  • Rank the souls games (including Bloodborne and Demons) best-to-worst.

Dark Souls 1 is without a doubt the best. The story of Sif and Artorias alone is one of the greatest, saddest, gut-wrenchingly raw stories ever. So Dark Souls 1, Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, Dark Souls 2, and I’ll be honest I never played Demon Souls.

  • Marvel movies – modern classics or mainstream nonsense?

Mainstream entertainment.

  • Horror books – blood and gore or abandoned mansions and ghosts?

Abandoned mansions and ghosts hands down.

  • The scariest book of all time is?

Adam Nevill’s The Ritual. Movie was awesome too.

  • Favorite author

Currently? Ruth Ware.

  • Greatest movie line of all time?

“The things you own, end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Thanks Benjamin!

Get Benjamin’s fantastic debut novel Jack be Quick on Amazon now.

Benjamin says that if people want to get in touch the best place would be his site where they can message him on the contact page or sign-up for his mailing list. It’s not frequent so don’t worry about too much spam. He’s also on twitter at @jigsawkid7 or instagram at @benjaminthomas7.

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