My Bookish Ways

Interview: Chaz Brenchley (Ben Macallan), author of Pandaemonium

I’m very excited to have Chaz Brenchley on the blog today! Chaz (under the name Ben Macallan) is the author of Pandaemonium, out this month, and has also authored more than 10 novels in crime, fantasy, and children’s fiction. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy scheduled to answer a few of my questions.

Please welcome Chaz to the blog!

Chaz, your new novel, Pandaemonium, (under pen name Ben Macallan) comes out this month. Will you tell us a bit about it?
Pandaemonium is the sequel to Desdaemona. Both books deal with people who’ve been on the run for a long time, finally having to turn and face their greatest fears. In the first book, Jordan is tracked down by Desdaemona – Desi – with devastating results for them both. Pandaemonium is Desi’s book, where she has to face the consequences of her own choices and actions. All this takes place in an England sodden with myth, where their personal histories are played out in a landscape of risen legend.

Do you plan on writing more books about Desdaemona, or will you just see where it takes you?
I have one more book in my head – I actually try to avoid trilogies, but sometimes they’re forced upon you. This series started with three titles, in a triangle. I really need to write Daemonogamy, just to make that structure work. That said, though, “seeing where it takes me” is actually the way I work, so who can tell? What happens next depends on a lot of factors not under my control. Inspiration is not the least of those, but not the sole criterion either.

Your writing runs the gamut from urban fantasy, to fantasy, crime fiction, and even children’s books. Do you have a favorite genre?
Usually my favourite is the next thing that comes along, just because it’s new to me. I guess I’m a flibbertigibbet. My early novels were contemporary crime, and many of the friends I made then are still working – very successfully – in that genre, a quarter of a century later. Apparently I can’t hold still that long. There’s always somewhere else I haven’t been yet, another kind of story to be explored. Right now, I’m playing with steampunk. On Mars. Old Mars, Lowell’s Mars, with canals and atmosphere and Martians, overlaid with a little of what we actually know now.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I always used to say I read the best of everything. I love style as well as storytelling. I’ve just had to abandon two-thirds of my library, in a move from England to California; the books I’m shipping across the Atlantic include Peter Straub and Patrick O’Brian and John le Carré and Rudyard Kipling and Mary Renault and Tolkien and Theodore Sturgeon and Dorothy L Sayers and Georgette Heyer and Elizabeth David and M F K Fisher and and and. I’ve probably borrowed something from all of those and more.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Heh. That’s a really interesting question – partly because I’m a great re-reader, and part of the pleasure of revisiting a book lies in knowing the shape of the story already. I’m not sure I’d actually want to give that up. On the other hand, the first time I read The Lord of the Rings, I don’t believe I did anything else but read it, for twenty-four hours cover to cover. I’d like to recapture that, perhaps – but I was a kid then, and I think it’d be a very different experience reading it for the first time as an adult.

What are you reading now?
Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. For the first time, as it happens: people have been pressing these books on me for 35 years, and I’ve only just succumbed. I’m in the last quarter of the last book now. You’re interrupting me, damn your eyes…

In the spirit of the season, what’s one of the scariest books you’ve ever read?
Heh. That would be Stephen King’s The Shining. Which I very sensibly read late at night, by firelight, in a remote country cottage all alone. Yup. Good choices, all of those. Lord, but I was spooked…

On a personal note, you’re described as a notorious foodie. What’s one of your favorite dishes (to prepare or to eat)?
In a rather boringly traditional male macho kind of way, I love hot and highly-spiced foods; given a free hand, I tend to play with curries and dishes from further east. On the other hand, I also adore making bread. I have a sourdough loaf that I bake every week, with a mix of white, wholemeal and rye flours and just a touch of malt, which may be my single favourite thing to cook.

I read that you enjoy travel. Where would you like to go that you haven’t yet been?
Anywhere in mainland China, but Sichuan particularly (for the food, of course). Now that Burma is coming out of the cold, I’d love to go to Rangoon; my mother was born there. Hong Kong. Japan. All my thoughts are easterly, always.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
Steampunk!Mars – but I said that already. In a wholly different steampunk project, my wife and I wrote a story between us – The Airship Towers of Trebizond, by Mr & Mrs Brenchley – which will be coming out in Gears and Levers 2. I have various other short stories heading towards publication, and I’m slowly bringing my backlist back into print through Book View Cafe (www.bookviewcafe.com): Dispossession is the next in line. Amnesia and a fallen angel, how can you resist? That’ll be out by the time this interview is published…
Keep up with Chaz: Website | Twitter
Pre-Order Pandaemonium: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

About Pandaemonium:
Desdaemona has done a thing so so terrible that she has to run away from the consequences. Again. Where better to look for shelter than with the boy she was running from before?

But trouble follows. And if it’s not Jacey’s parents who sent the deadly crow-men, the Twa Corbies, in chase of her, then who is it? Deep under London, among the lost and rejected of two worlds, answers begin to emerge from Desi’s hidden past. Answers that send her north in a flight that turns to a hunt, with strange companions and stranger prey. Dangers lie ahead and behind; inconvenient passion lays traps for her just when she needs a clear head; at the last even Desi has to beg for help. From one who has more cause than most to want her dead…

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