CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Benedict J Jones

1) So, who are you & what have you written?

My name is Benedict J Jones, I’m a writer from south east London and I mainly write in the genres of crime and horror with the occasional western thrown in for good measure. I’m probably best known for my books about my south London private eye Charlie Bars; Skewered and Other London Cruelties, Pennies for Charon and The Devil’s Brew as well as my splatter-punk horror novella, Slaughter Beach.

I’ve been getting stories published for about a decade now and my first novel (Pennies for Charon) came out through Crime Wave Press in 2014.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

That’s a good question. I’ve always been drawn to examine the darker aspects of human nature and behaviour as they seem to tell us a lot about ourselves. In some ways I think that writing about something, telling a story about it, is a good way to keep the dark away. People seem to have been doing that since the beginning of time and if you look at some of those early stories most of them revolve around the fears that lurk around the edges of our structured lives.

I use crime fiction to try and make sense of things, to follow the secret history of our world and to try and get some kind of handle on the awful events that seem so prevalent these days. Crime fiction can really cut to the heart of social ills and be quite revealing about the nature of things.

3) What informs your crime writing?

I think place influences my crime stories, and all my writing really, quite a lot. London herself acts as a strong character in the first couple of Charlie Bars books and even in “The Devil’s Brew” the city stays a major character, albeit one off stage in that novel. As such it isn’t just the physical places and locations that I use but the history and folklore of the metropolis that has soaked into the fabric of the place. There’s something special about walking the same streets that were trod by Jack the Ripper, The Krays, The Richardsons and the rest.

It can also be the little things: snatched glances of things around the city, tiny articles in the paper, half-heard conversations in pubs and bars. It all goes in the mix and can added into stories.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

Get home from work, eat, shower, and then dive into the work. I find I can usually get about four hours in that way. It works for me in allowing me to get a lot down on the page but that level of intensity, for me, can only be managed for set periods and then I need to do something else!

5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

That’s always a hard one to answer and my answer changes with some regularity. Right now? I’d probably go for The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V Higgins. It is a perfectly formed piece of noir pitched with just the right level of sympathy and really gets to the heart of the human condition.

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