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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - March 8, 2011

Please welcome Ben Aaronovitch to The Qwillery. I invited Ben back to answer a few questions that occurred to me after I'd read Midnight Riot / Rivers of London, the first book in his Rivers of London series.

TQ:  Rivers obviously play an important role in the Rivers of London series, but not just as waterways around or upon which events happen. They became people in your mythology. What drew you to the rivers of London, especially the lost rivers of London?

Ben:  London exists where it does because it is the lowest place on the Thames that could be bridged by Roman engineering. Prior to the Roman invasion there was no substantial settlement at London (that we know of) and the Roman's never planned for it to be their capital (that was supposed to be Colchester). The city grew out of that intersection of river and road.

To write a supernatural thriller in London and ignore the river is to misunderstand the true nature of London. So it wasn't so much a question of being drawn to the river rather it was a question of how you deal with this major fact in London's existence.

TQ:  Why did you decide to anthropomorphize the rivers?

Ben:  The Thames has a long tradition of anthropomorphism and there are representations of Father Thames going back centuries. So again it becomes a question of 'how' you anthropomorphize them rather than 'why'.

TQ:  Is there a mythology on which you based your living rivers?

Ben:  There isn't a specific mythology but the concept of river spirits is prevalent in just about every mythos I've looked at so far. Once I'd decided who the Father and the Mother were and from whence they were derived then a certain amount of Romano-British/Celtic and Yoruban flavour was bound to creep in.

TQ:   In the Rivers of London series, does everyone have the potential to do magic or is it only particularly gifted individuals that have the potential?

Ben:  This is a good point that needs to be made clear. Doing formal Newtonian magic is like learning the violin. You can have aptitudes that will help you learn but in the end true mastery comes down to hard work. It's also something that is almost impossible to do without a teacher to provide exemplars and to teach you, for example, the difference between what is vestigia and what is the random product of your own brain.

TQ:  The Punch and Judy puppet show was used to great effect in Midnight Riot / Rivers of London. How much embellishing did you do to the history of Punch and Judy?

Ben:  You do not need to embellish the history of Punch and Judy, the first recorded performance in Britain (in Pepys diary no less) was in the Portico at covent garden, the script I drew from is real and there really is a Puppet Fayre at Covent Garden every May.

TQ:  What's next for Peter Grant?

Ben:  Peter will continue his apprenticeship both as a wizard and as a police officer. Nightingale will have come to terms with the fact that he may have seriously neglected his duties in the last fifty years. Beverley Brook is still somewhere upstream dreaming of Peter and easily available hair products. Leslie must come to terms with her horrific injuries.

And of course, like the feeling you get when the weather starts to turn in spring, magic has begun to creep back into the world.


Ben's Books

Midnight Riot / Rivers of London
Rivers of London 1
(Del Rey - February 1, 2011)
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - March 8, 2011
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.


You can read my review of Midnight Riot / Rivers of London here.
 
 
Moon Over Soho
Rivers of London 2
(Del Rey - March 1, 2011)
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - March 8, 2011
BODY AND SOUL

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.


UK Covers
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - March 8, 2011


About Ben
 
Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. He had parents, some brothers, some sisters and a dog named after a Russian cosmonaut. He also had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction.
 
Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world's cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin's New Adventures until they pulped all his books.
 
Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake's 7 Audio dramas. Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller.
 
Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas).
 
At some point during the above, the most important thing in his life happened and he became a father to a son, Karifa, whom he affectionately refers to as 'The Evil Monster Boy'. The Evil Monster Boy will be reaching university age soon, so all donations will be gratefully received.
 
Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers.

Ben's and Peter's Links:

The Folly: http://www.the-folly.com/
Twitter:  @Ben_Aaronovitch

Peter's Blog: http://westendblues.blogspot.com/
Peter's Twitter:  @PC_Peter_Grant

The Giveaway
 
THE RULES
 
What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Moon Over Soho.

How:  Leave a comment telling The Qwillery your favorite river, stream, brook, creek, ocean, sea, etc.? Please remember: if you don't answer the question you're entry will not be counted!
 
You may receive additional entries by:
 
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
 
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
 
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
 
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
 
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
 
Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.
 
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Review - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 Qwills

Midnight Riot
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Rivers of London 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (February 1, 2011)
Price: $7.99
Language: English
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-345-52425-6
Review Copy: Arc provided by Publisher

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders

Review - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 Qwills
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.



UK Cover and synopsis
Review - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 Qwills
My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - we do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden ...and there's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.

My thoughts:

While Ben Aaronovitch has written some Doctor Who tie-in novels, this is his first original novel and his urban fantasy debut. Midnight Riot / Rivers of London is quite simply fabulous. It's a mystery, police procedural, and urban fantasy wrapped in a rich mythology of London's rivers.

I find it interesting that this novel has two different covers and two different titles. This is not the first time this has happened in the history of novels, of course. I find it interesting because the covers and titles reflect two different aspects of the same story.

"Rivers of London" seems to emphasize the fantasy construct underlying the story: a mythology of London's rivers. Peter Grant, the main character, has to deal with issues created by the rivers. He deals directly with the gods and goddesses of the rivers and streams - the rivers personified. "Midnight Riot" seems to emphasize the police procedural aspect of the novel. A terrible chain of events has been set off. The mystery underlying the crimes comes from London's past. These two themes of the novel intertwine sometimes in surprising, but satisfying, ways.

Themes aside, this is essentially a story about Peter Grant. I find Detective Constable Grant to be a likable, flawed character. He makes mistakes. He's sometimes foolish, but he's got a curious mind and a willingness to learn. He's also got a scientific mind which would seem at odds with his new assignment working with DCI Nightingale investigating crimes that involve magic. However, this serves him well as he starts to navigate the world of magic. It's incredibly fun to read about his attempts at magic and watch him begin his journey to wizardom. He's starting to grow into both his jobs - Detective Constable and wizard.

The characters both paranormal and normal are well written. The river gods and goddesses are particularly well drawn. I'm intrigued by DCI Nightingale and hope to learn more about him in future books. The pacing is well done. The police procedures are detailed and interesting. There is quite a bit of detail about London and environs, which I enjoyed. I love the understated humor that suffuses Midnight Riot / Rivers of London. I'm looking forward to Moon Over Soho (March 1, 2011).

I give Midnight Riot / Rivers of London 4 1/2 Qwills.


Review - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 QwillsReview - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 Qwills
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - March 8, 2011Review - Midnight Riot / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - 4 1/2 Qwills

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