Ben Aaronovitch was the guest of honor at Contact2016, Australia’s national science fiction and fantasy convention for 2016. While he was here I took advantage of a good Skype connection and being in (almost) the same time zone to interview him.
Melanie Saward of Contact2016 asked me not to raise multiculturalism or representation in the interview so I danced around those issues. Ironically, Ben raised multiculturalism and diversity.
Below are my scheduled questions; I believe all were covered in the interview even if I didn’t actually ask them all.
FYI I was all dressed up then I received a phone call from Contact2016 telling me that Ben’s Skype wasn’t working so I changed back in to a tee shirt and took off my earrings. Then the phone line was terrible and Ben had got Skype to work so the interview was over Skype with video… and me in a tee shirt. Luckily there hadn’t been time to wash the makeup off. Next time I won’t change JUST IN CASE.
Above is the embedded YouTube video and the podcast (MP3) option.
Ben’s recent books are (links to reviews):
- The Rivers of London
- Moon over Soho
- Whispers Underground
- Broken Homes
- Foxglove Summer
- The Hanging Tree (coming soon)
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch
Ben Aaronovitch was born and raised a Londoner. His father, Sam, was an economist and senior member of the Communist Party of Britain; his brother Owen is a soapy star and his other brother David is an award-winning journalist.
Ben’s career took off when he wrote the classic Doctor Who story ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ where Ace famously attacks a dalek with a baseball bat. He wrote another Doctor Who episode, ‘Battlefield’, before expanding his horizons by writing for Casualty, B-grade SF soap Jupiter Moon, then expanding into novels, short stories, comics and audio dramas including Blakes 7, more Doctor Who and, lately, his Rivers of London series about Peter Grant, an inept policeman who accidentally discovers the supernatural world that co-exists with our own then becomes a wizard. Of sorts.
Welcome Ben Aaronovitch.
Your career really took off after writing Remembrance of the Daleks for Doctor Who.
You wrote in the New Adventures series before it diverged from Doctor Who, when it followed Bernice Summerfield while the BBC didn’t hold the rights to the series. What was it like working on Doctor Who stories while the TV series wasn’t running and while they were selling the rights?
I haven’t found any mention of you working on the New Adventures after Doctor Who left and Bernice encountered cats wearing boots carrying BFGs (thanks to Paul Cornell) and yet you wrote a prequel, focusing on Benny before she met the doctor.
Since then you’ve written 6 Rivers of London novels, set in a world you built yourself. What is the difference between writing in someone else’s sandbox and writing your own unique stories?
Can you tell us the basic premise for the Rivers of London stories, who Peter Grant is and what has happened so far?
Peter Grant is the quintessential geek, referencing everything from Lord of the Rings to various games, much to others’ dismay. Are you consciously targeting a particular audience with the various elements you include in your stories?
You’ve incorporated architecture, jazz, Patrick O’Brien novels and much more into your novels.
What is so intriguing about ‘lost’ rivers?
In one of your Rivers of London novels, vacuuming patterns are relevant to both plot and character development. Kathleen asks: how do you use that keen observation; is the technique planned or organic?
Your writing isn’t usually overly political but, when discussing media responses to bad weather in the Rivers of London, you quote the Daily Mail headlines as saying, “LLEGALS ATE MY SNOWPLOW”. What inspired you?
Would you like to write more political satire?
Where are you taking us in future Rivers of London novels?
In storytelling, what is your favourite mode, mood and intensity?
Do you consume stories similar to those you write?
What stories do you love in any medium and what storytellers?
After 3 decades in the writing profession, how do you keep your storytelling buoyant?
What are your plans for the future?
Who would win, Xena or Rassilon?