The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Benjamin J Myers

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Benjamin J Myers

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Summary: Bookbag loved Twisted Symmetry and Strange Energy - the first two books in Benjamin J Myers' The Bad Tuesdays series. We jumped at the chance to ask him some questions about them.
Date: 21 April 2009
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Bookbag loved Twisted Symmetry and Strange Energy - the first two books in Benjamin J Myers' The Bad Tuesdays series. We jumped at the chance to ask him some questions about them.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine the readers of The Bad Tuesdays, who do you see?

Benjamin J Myers: Originally, I thought of my own children and their friends, but now I think of any reader who loves adventure, excitement and surprises (including nasty ones!). I certainly imagine them being with me as I write the books and I imagine their reactions to and enjoyment of the twists and turns.

  • BB: What was the inspiration for The Bad Tuesdays series?

BJM: There are two. The first is my love of stories like this; my head has been exploding with fantastical ideas for years. The second is a firm belief that good and bad really exist and that the tension between them is something that affects us all and is something that each one of us has a responsibility to confront so far as we are able. That's why so much of what happens in The Bad Tuesdays depends on the choices that the characters make... and the consequences they have to face.

  • BB: Chess is a wonderful central character - unassuming but courageous and with untapped and mysterious potential. Do you know anybody like her?

BJM: Chess isn't based on any one person, but parts of her are drawn from different people that I've met, in particular, some young people who have had very difficult early lives and struggle afterwards to get to grips with the world. Also, one of the most amazing things about all people is how much they are capable of, if they are given the chance and they take it. So, in that way, Chess is a bit like all of us.

  • BB: The relationship between Chess and Splinter is pivotal. Is it simply sibling rivalry, or does Splinter know something we don't? And how long will we have to wait to find out?

BJM: I couldn't possibly reveal what is going to happen (although I know exactly what will happen), but the relationship between Chess and Splinter is a basic element of the books. There are lots of mysteries that are revealed during the course of the stories, but just as in our world, answers lead to more questions. However, everything will have been answered by the end of the final book.

  • BB: If the series is ever filmed (and it should be!), who would you like to see play Ethel?

BJM: There is one character in The Bad Tuesdays who I imagine as a well-known personality, but I haven’t got anyone in mind for Ethel. I think Ethel would be really amused at the thought of someone playing her and she would be full of helpful advice and criticism on how best to do it. I wouldn't dare to suggest anybody without consulting her first.

  • BB: Does the end always justify the means?

BJM: No. What matters is the morality of the individual act. Saying that the end justifies the means is usually an excuse for doing something bad. Things usually take a sinister turn when characters in The Bad Tuesdays work on an 'end justifies the means' basis.

  • BB: By all accounts, you are the only author Orion has signed from its slush pile in the last seven years. How did you feel when you got the call?

BJM: Ecstatic.

  • BB: Which writers have influenced you the most?

BJM: Shakespeare because he is brilliant at revealing how people behave, Dickens because of his capacity to create character and atmosphere and Hemingway because of his powerful, stripped-down narrative. The poetry of Ted Hughes is incredible; it shows how words can create. In the field of science fiction and fantasy, the most influential have been H P Lovecraft (for spooky weirdness), Robert E Howard (for action), J R R Tolkien (for breadth of imagination), Mervyn Peake (for gothic eccentricity), Michael Moorcock (for refusing to conforming to genres) and Ursula Le Guin (for depth of imaginative detail).

  • BB: What was your favourite book as a child?

BJM: Any book about Greek or Norse mythology, or about dinosaurs would have kept me out of trouble for hours.

  • BB: What are you reading now, and is it any good?

BJM: I always have a load of books on the go at any one time – it drives me mad. The current crop include The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (I studied it for my O level English literature and have just finished re-reading it – the story is beautifully described, but don't read it if you want a happy ending), Hyperspace by Michio Kaku (the universe really is this weird – or is it universes?) and The Histories by Herodotus (there are more entertaining reads but it is very interesting to discover what was 'history' 2,500 years ago).

  • BB: What's next for Benjamin J Myers?

BJM: I’m just completing the third book in The Bad Tuesdays sequence. Next will be books four, five and six! They’ve all been planned carefully – I just have to write them. It is extraordinarily exciting revealing exactly what happens.

  • BB: Thank you Benjamin. We can't wait to read the rest of the series!

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Alice Preece said:

I am a big fan of Ben's books. I am asking him all the time about how he's going with them. I have been on lots of websites about "The Bad Tuesday" books and I think this interview is the best I have been on. I also agree that the books really should be made into a film if it is made correctly it could be amazing. By the way this interview is out of date Ben is actually on about chapter 5 of the fourth book maybe more.

By Alice Preece (age 10)