The Godless is out NOW!
Leviathan’s Blood is out May 31, 2016!
So go grab some copies!
It’s All In the Delivery
It all began, really, with Deadwood, the HBO show.
I’ve never been the biggest watcher of television. I’ve nothing against it. Honest. It is just that, well, Australian TV is shit. I am not speaking of the quality – though that is, frequently, shit – but rather it is just how awful networks are here. Networks buy things and don’t play them. They change time slots without notice, drop a show for weeks, and play seasons out of order. Cable isn’t any better. It is expensive and has many of the same issues. It is why you will occasionally see a headline that reads, ‘Australia Downloads More TV Than Any Other Nation In Known Universe’, or something similar. It’s just a bad industry that has no desire to become a good one.
The impact on me was largely one of ambivalence. I mostly gave up TV for a long time. It wasn’t a huge thing. There are books, after all. To read. To write.
So, naturally, I didn’t hear about Deadwood until season one was released on DVD here. I’d read about it online before and I picked it up.
I liked it, obviously. A lot of people did. But one of the things I quite liked was how the season had one long storyline for each season. Each episode had its own plot, but each episode, by and large, contributed to the larger storyline. It wasn’t the first time I had seen that, of course, but it was the first time that I was struck by it as a narrative.
I remember thinking very clearly that you could structure a book like that, if you wanted to. Instead of chapter after chapter – chapter one, two, etc., as is traditional – you could create ‘episodes’, ten or twelve, which were essentially large chapters of around ten to fifteen thousand words. Each of the episodes would be split into multiple point of views like a TV show. Each would have an event to tie it together, but would also contribute to a larger narrative that would reach conclusion at the end of the book.
I thought the idea was an interesting one. So much so, in fact, that I began to write The Godless, the first book in The Children Trilogy, that I used exactly that.
I am, I admit, a big of a structural geek when it comes to my work. I like experimenting with it, I like doing different things to get different voices and different vibes. It’s also one of those interests in writing that means different things to different people. Some people like it, some people think it is just wank. I can understand the latter, for some people. But it’s just part of the craft, and if you do it while you pay attention to characters, plot, action, theme, and all the other pieces and parts that go into a book, it shouldn’t intrude on the reader. It should just offer a different delivery in the story to the reader.
What I liked most about the structure was how much it favoured an ensemble cast. I had three point of view characters in The Godless, and I weaved them back and forth, let their voices rise and fall in each section, much like how characters in Deadwood, Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, or any other ensemble pieces of television does. It changed the nature of the book I wrote, made it a pure ensemble cast piece. In Leviathan’s Blood when the cast grew to five, it was important to maintain that structure to ensure that the ensemble cast was kept.
I was happy with the results, but I was also, at times, surprised by what I learned. The attraction of the ensemble piece is that you’re not hooked to any one particular frame of reference, so characters can be used to contrast each other, be foils, create narrative tension, and so on. It also means, that should one character hit a low point in the narrative, another can hit a high point, and you can keep a series of rises and falls happening in the book without falling into that dreaded pitfall of nothing happening. It also allows for the narrative itself to carry some of the weight of the book, rather than a central character.
Mostly, however, what I truly enjoyed was tapping into that episode structure, that slow build of a narrative over twelve episodes. Unlike some authors, I write from the first page to the last page, and I write in the order that I intend for the book to be read. For me, the structure unfolds as it does for you, the reader. The sense of unknown beneath the city, or across the ocean; the twists as characters betray, reveal truths; the bursts of violence; the reveals of huge, strange pieces of landscape; it all came upon me as it does for you in the books. It was very much a similar experience to watching a television show, week in, week out. I can only imagine that binge reading the entire book works the same, though on that, I will admit, I have no idea – I have never been able to read anything I’ve written after it is published.
At any rate, for those of you who haven’t read The Godless or Leviathan’s Blood, I hope my piece here today draws your interest to the books. I’ve greatly enjoyed writing them and I hope you will greatly enjoy reading them.
In 2016, his novel Leviathan’s Blood, the second book in the Children Trilogy, will be released by TOR in the UK, Thomas Dunne in the US, and Piper in Germany.
He holds a doctorate in literature and splits his time between teaching and writing.
His first novel, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, had Rave Magazine say, “Ben Peek [has] joined the ranks of writers to realise dressing up their memoirs as a novel is less interesting that writing an actual autobiography with Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth….” Originally published by Wheatland Press, the series of alphabetical entries lists author hoaxes whilst also is an actual autobiography. His second novel, Black Sheep, was reviewed by Paul DiFillipo who said Ben Peek “crafts a quietly horrifying world displaced from ours by a century of time and an implosion of globalist attitudes.”
Peek is the creator of the Urban Sprawl Project, a psychogeography pamphlet for which he wrote and took photographs. It was given out free in the suburbs of Sydney. With artist Anna Brown, he created the autobiographical comic, Nowhere Near Savannah, which was run in weekly instalments on his blog. In addition to this, he also conducted the first Australian Science Fiction Author and Artist Snapshot, interviewing over forty writers, artists and editors in the space of two weeks. He has since written reviews and articles for Strange Horizons, Overland, and various street presses.
Peek’s first piece of short fiction was published in 1996. He has since had published over thirty stories, novelettes and novellas. These have been published in anthologies such as Forever Shores, edited by Peter McNamara and Margaret Winch; Leviathan Four: Cities, edited by Forrest Aquirre; Paper Cities, edited by Ekaterina Sedia; and the Agog! series, edited by Cat Sparks. His stories have also appeared in a range of diverse magazines, including Fantasy Magazine, Overland, Phantom and Aurealis. Peek’s work has also being reprinted in various editions of Year’s Best volumes and nominated for a number of awards.
- Series: Children Trilogy book 2
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (May 31, 2016)
- ISBN-10: 1250050030
- ISBN-13: 978-1250050038
At the end of The Godless, Mireea lay in ruins, the dead of the city had risen as ghosts, and the keepers Fo and Bau had been slain by Zaifyr.
The Mireeans have now fled to the city of Yeflam with the immortal Zaifyr in chains to barter for their safety. With the threat of war arriving at the Floating Cities, Zaifyr’s trial will become the center of political games. However, Zaifyr is intent on using his trial to begin a new war, a motive that many fear is an echo of the dangerous man he once was. Ayae, a young girl cursed with the gift of fire, sees a chance to learn more of her powers here in the floating city, but she is weighed down by her new responsibilities regarding the safety of the Mireean people.
Across the far ocean, exiled Baron Bueralan and cartographer Orlan have arrived in the city of Ooila with some chilling cargo: the soul of a dead man. As the two men are accepted into the city’s court, they are pulled ever deeper into the Queen’s web of lies and deceit. All the while, a rumor begins to spread of a man who has come ashore, whose seemingly innocent presence threatens them all.
BUY HERE: The Godless: Children: Book One by
- Series: Children (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (August 19, 2014)
- ISBN-10: 1250050022
- ISBN-13: 978-1250050021
The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. Split between the three points of view, the narrative of Godless reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm.
The first installment in Ben Peek’s exciting new epic fantasy series, The Godless is a fast-paced page turner set in an enthralling new world.