Tuesday, March 08, 2011

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)
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)

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

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
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.*


  1. +JMJ+

    I love the Mediterranean Sea. It was such a huge part of the ancient world's politics, trade, culture and mythology.

    Thanks for the giveaway! =)

    I am a follower and this is on my sidebar:


    Total Entries: 3

  2. I'm going local with the Chesapeake Bay!

    I'm a gfc follower


  3. Isn't Ben great? He was one of my favorite authors to interview! You'll love Moon Over Soho too:)

    Don't have to enter me, just wanted to tell you great interview!

    Kristin@ My Bookish Ways

  4. I am italina so I love the Mediterranean Sea!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  5. Another fabulous giveaway! My favorite ocean would be the Atlantic. I was born in Germany, so I've crossed it many times. Nostalgia.
    +1 follower
    +1 comment

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  6. I am totally in love with the waters in the Wicklow Mountains (Dublin), those little rivers who ens up in the big lakes are breathtaking. Especially the Guinness Lake
    Would love to be there again... *sigh*

    +1 Follower

    Thx for a great post and giveaway!


  7. I would say my favorite river is the Arkansas, its the only one I ever get to see!
    +1 follower
    +1 comment
    Stephanie- thegirlonfire
    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  8. I was born on an island off the pacific so I would have to be biased and say the pacific ocean!


  9. Because it seems to be so involved with history from the Pharaohs and ancient Egypt up to the search for its source and even now as a water resource for modern countries in Africa, my vote goes to the Nile.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    +1 for comment
    +1 I am a Follower via GFC

  10. My favourite would be the Mediterranean Sea!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    +1 GFC follower


  11. Does Tempe Town Lake count? It's not real, but when the light rail goes over it, it's kind of awesome.

    I am a blog follower (it says "The" on my sidebar. I really need to fix that).


  12. My favourite stretch of water (so far) is Loch Ness. So beautiful and so much mystery surrounding it. Going back this year! Whoop!

    I'm now a follower (it was your zombie posts last year that led me here.) +1
    I have tweeted which in turn posts to FB http://twitter.com/#!/craftywhoopidoo/status/47564677714161664 +1
    I'll also pop you on my sidebar http://whoopidooings.blogspot.com +1 (I think?)


    Many thanks for the chance to win :)

  13. Hi! I'm a follower.
    My favourite river is the Seine from Paris. I think it's a very romantic river.