Guest Post: “Behind the Scenes of Chasing Embers” by James Bennett

tolkeinjrr-conversationwithsmaugSmaug. It must’ve started with Smaug. Smaug the Magnificent. As a boy of 8, I think that’s the first time I heard a dragon talk. A Conversation with Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkien is still one of my favourite illustrations. ‘Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air’, isn’t that how it went? And that was also, I think, the first time that the 8-year-old me heard about a dragon being able to talk. Smaug was red, of course. To this day, it’s my favourite colour.

As an adult, I’m pleased to note that Professor Tolkien also drew on ancient sources, from the ‘night-scather’ in Beowulf to the talking dragon Fafnir of the Völsunga Saga. Fafnir, as it happens, used to be a man, but his greed for gold eventually turned him into a dragon, so one could argue that the seed of Smaug, in a way, was entirely human. Here you see the roots of the myth you’re tapping, a vein that stretches back to the elemental serpents of Ancient China, those noble god-beasts who were often depicted in human form, and one that will surely stretch on long into the future. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES BENNETT

BennettB-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Bennett?

That’s a big question. James Bennett is someone who finds it weird to refer to himself in the third person, but who is, predominantly, a Fantasy writer. Also an international playboy. I made that last bit up.

Your debut novel, Chasing Embers, is published by Orbit. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thank you. Chasing Embers relates the story of Ben Garston, who, to all intents and purposes, seems like your everyday Londoner, albeit a little rough around the edges. But Ben has a secret hiding under his skin. In fact, the world has a secret hiding under its skin. Imagine if all those medieval tales of fabulous beasts were actually real. Imagine if there were only a few of them left and living among us, endangered species, survivors in the modern world. The Ben Garston books take that idea as their central premise. Continue reading