With the highly anticpated epic final instalment of the Bad Tuesdays series 'The Spiral Horizon', we've been luckily enough to catch up with the very busy Benjamin J Myers, who's kindly answered our questions ...
Where did the inspiration for ‘The Bad Tuesdays’ come from?
It must be a rare book for which there is only one source of inspiration. I can think of at least three that lie behind ‘The Bad Tuesdays’. I wanted to capture in words the excitement and menace of my favourite films (films like ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Matrix’) and the energy of comic book art. I wanted to create a world where the boundaries of everyday reality and the fantastic overlapped (not so very different from our world, once you accept a spiritual dimension and the extraordinary universe of quantum physics – or is that universes?). And I wanted to write about people who were faced with overwhelming challenges and faced them from what appeared to be a hopeless starting point. Young, damaged people like the Tuesdays exist. I wanted to show that no matter what is thrown at them, they are capable of pulling through, and what gets them through is who they are. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Do you have a favourite character from ‘The Bad Tuesdays’ series? Why?
I couldn’t pick one favourite character, and Ethel would slaughter me if I didn’t pick her. But some characters are easier to write than others: Ethel, Splinter and General Saxmun Vane seem to be able to say and do what they want with the minimum interpretation by me. I think that’s because none of them ever let other people’s feelings get in the way of what they want to say or do. Obviously, the Tuesdays themselves, Chess, Box and Splinter, are very close to me, but them aside, maybe my favourite characters are the ones who are there, supporting others with stoicism, notwithstanding a measure of bewilderment, characters like Pacer, Crazy Boris and Captain Riley. And of course, I love Anna. She is brave, resourceful, unswerving in her character and an iron friend. People like that really matter, particularly when chaos reigns.
Do you have an ending planned for ‘The Spiral Horizon’ since you wrote the first book, or did you let the stories evolve as you wrote them?
The stories were planned meticulously. It would be impossible to have such an intricate plot without a huge amount of planning. I knew what lay ahead of the principal characters and how the various aspects of the plot would resolve from the outset. Obviously, elements of the stories developed in the writing: you have to make space for the narrative to unfold and for the characters to drive that narrative in their direction. But I had the final sentence of the six books in view as I began to write the first.
Is it difficult to write a series or do you view them as separate stories when you write?
The six books tell one story. One of the challenges in the writing has been to break that down into six stories, each delivering a beginning, a middle and an end whilst advancing the overall story. This means that some plot lines span one book, some span several and some span the whole series. Whilst this has made the series a complex one to write, it makes it the more rewarding for readers because they are able to enjoy a deepening involvement with the characters and enjoy the hit of getting the answers to their questions as the stories unfold.
As well as an author you are a barrister – where do you find time to write?
By sleeping less than I should!
Do you have plans to write any books in the future that are based on your life experiences, such as being in the military, or the courts? Or do you prefer science-fiction / fantasy as it’s removed from ‘every-day’ life?
At the moment, I don’t plan to write any books that directly relay my experiences, but most writing must be informed by some experience so I imagine it’s all there. There is a fair amount of military activity in ‘The Bad Tuesdays’ and more than a handful of criminals. I really enjoy science fiction and fantasy but I wouldn’t say that it is far removed from everyday life. Well-conceived science fiction, in particular, is a way of writing about reality but in a way which allows for the isolation and exploration of particular issues. Just look at classics such as ‘Brave New World’, ‘1984’, and the much under-read ‘The Chrysalids’. All of them stunningly accurate. You’ll find more sensible analysis of gender, politics, power and society in science fiction than many other forms of ‘every-day life’ fiction, and have a good deal more fun whilst you do so.
Do you have any top tips for budding writers?
1. READ. Lots. Read well and read widely. That’s the top tip.
2. Plan your story – at least give it a beginning, a middle and an end.
3. Keep at it. Writing takes time so make time – it won’t happen otherwise. And don’t be spooked by the blank page. Fill it. The only way of writing is by writing. You can always cross it out and start again if you’re not satisfied.
4. Cross it out and start again if you’re not satisfied (which means, if it isn’t the absolute best you can do).
5. Write with a type of reader in mind – writing for yourself may be deeply satisfying but that’s therapy. If you want to be a writer, write for yourself by all means but make sure you are writing for others too.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?
I have so many ideas it’s amazing I ever get round to settling on any one of them. I am planning a new story but wouldn’t say more about it than that. I’ve discovered that for me, the more I talk about what I’m going to write, the less I write it!
Where can fans of you and your books find out more about you and your writing?
I am on Twitter (‘Benjamin J Myers’) but I’m not great at regular tweeting (sorry!). However, there are fans who have set up a Facebook page. I can always be contacted via the people at Orion Publishing and I’m happy to talk about the books, the writing and answer any questions.
Interview by Lynsey Evans
The Bad Tuesdays: The Spiral Horizon
By Benjamin J Myers
Published by Orion Books on 2nd August 2012
The epic conclusion to the thrilling Bad Tuesdays series ...
Can three children save the Universe against impossible odds?
Children everywhere are disappearing. Orphan, Chess Tuesday, and her brothers, Box and Splinter, don't want to be next. But they are being tracked by two powerful enemy organisations, each intent on destroying the other.
The time when the twelve suns become one is drawing closer and it could mark the end of all things. Only Chess Tuesday can prevent destruction … or make it happen.
She has a choice to make, but there are powerful forces trying to influence her decision and Chess isn't sure who the enemy is any more. Is it Splinter, who betrayed her, and who is now falling forever through time and space?
THE BAD TUESDAYS STORY SO FAR…
Book 1: TWISTED SYMMETRY
Children everywhere are disappearing. Orphan, Chess Tuesday, and her brothers, Box and Splinter, don't want to be next. But they are being tracked by two powerful enemy organizations, each intent on destroying the other.
Who is good and who is evil? Why do both sides need the Tuesdays? And can anyone escape the hunters? Chess, Box and Splinter are about to embark on a terrifying mission to find out.
Book 2: STRANGE ENERGY
Chess and her brothers, Box and Splinter, are caught in a bitter struggle between two ruthless organizations. Now they face a terrifying choice - carry out a dangerous mission for the Committee, or try to outrun the evil Twisted Symmetry alone.
Chess wants to take the mission. But it could prove fatal. And it will lead the Tuesdays into the heart of the very organization that is hunting them…
Book 3: BLOOD ALCHEMY
Chess Tuesday is on the run...And the deadly Twisted Symmetry isn't far behind. They've already hunted down and imprisoned her brothers, Box and Splinter.
In a world where neither friends, enemies nor family are what they seem, trust is not an option. And Chess is about to discover that the truth may be more dangerous than she ever thought possible.
Book 4: THE NONSUCH KING
Splinter Tuesday is hungry for power, and he has a daring plan to get it - if he can stay alive, that is. His brother, Box, is fighting for his life on a distant planet. His sister, Chess, is learning to walk between the worlds. Only then will she be ready to take on the evil Twisted Symmetry - and win.
But the Twisted Symmetry has plans of its own. Time is running out. Splinter, Box and Chess have never been in more danger.
Book 5: A CRYSTAL HORSEMAN
Chess must decide who to trust as things begin to spiral out of control.
Box is now part of the Twisted Symmetry's Elite Cavalry. Has he forgotten where his loyalties lie? Is it too late? Or can he still help Chess in her struggle to stop the Twisted Symmetry's sinister plan?
'The Bad Tuesdays' series are all available to purchase from all good bookshops and online store now. You can find more out about the books and Benjamin J Myers at www.orionbooks.co.uk/authors/j.-myers-benjamin.