The Minaea Chronicles
The demon stepped on to the Darum Plain and howled. A pair of blue-grey doves rose from a nearby belt of prairie grass and fled south.
So begins Jonathan Benton's first novel, A Wicked Kind of Dark, which introduces an exciting new voice in Australian young adult fiction. Jonathan always wanted to write books having won first place in a short story competition when he was ten. Inspired by authors such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, Jonathan discovered the crossover genre of literary-fantasy while reading Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.
A Wicked Kind of Dark introduces the first book in the The Minaea Chronicles trilogy.
Robert Duncan no longer believes in magic. A mysterious call about a blood moon, however, leads him back to the magical world of his childhood and to Luthien, the beautiful girl with flame-coloured hair, who he loved and lost. In a race against time and barely eluding the demons that stalk him, Robert discovers that Luthien is not dead, she is being held comatose in a hidden location. Robert has to find her before the rise of the blood moon aided by his twin soul Rafael.
A Wicked Kind of Dark is a dark fantasy for young adults that explores the relationship between experience and environment. It is only through coming to terms with his painful – and sometimes exquisitely happy – childhood memories that Robert's perception of London changes from a dull city to a city full of magic and miracles. This is the first instalment of a planned trilogy with the second book being set in Australia.
Jonathon Benton grew up in New Zealand but always dreamed of traveling to London, finally making the pilgrimage in his mid-twenties. Following years of travel, he decided to call Australia home. He now lives in Brisbane and A Wicked Kind of Dark is his first novel.
A Wicked Kind of Dark
Author: Jonathon Benton
Question: What inspired the idea for The Minaea Chronicles?
Jonathon Benton: The imagination. It's a natural resource without limits. I wanted to build a world that explores that potential: a world that can be accessed by the imagination, no matter what life throws at you. Some of the most vibrant landscapes in Minaea are inspired by Earth's own spectacular natural geography. Like the coral reefs that I've scuba dived: bursting with colour, rich with life.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Jonathon Benton: Nobody specific. Perhaps I've encountered a bare-footed bohemian before, and a wise-cracking painter too. Then my subconscious combined the two individuals to create Arthur. As long as the characters are as unique as we are.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Robert Duncan?
Jonathon Benton: The worst thing was letting him go, handing the manuscript over to the publisher. The best? I loved creating a character so real to me that I felt what he was feeling. I might have dropped a few tears onto the keyboard as Robert remembered his childhood.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Jonathon Benton: Real life is everything. It provides the foundation for imagination.
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing young adult fiction?
Jonathon Benton: The surest way to help prepare the future, is getting to know the people who are going to be responsible for it. Young adults are such an amazing, energizing, inspiring group of people: their ideas are fresh, and this means the writing needs to be too. I love that challenge.
Question: What's next in The Minaea Chronicles?
Jonathon Benton: Australia. I am shifting the earthly setting from England to Australia. I am also looking forward to revealing more of Minaea. The feedback so far on my fantasy world is that people want to know more about it. That's exciting!
Interview by Brooke Hunter