FIVE MINUTES WITH A FICTIONAL CHARACTER

Benedict Jacka recently published BOUND, the eighth novel in his magical urban fantasy series, the Alex Verus novels. While the author himself has often been interviewed about his work, we thought we'd do something different and set off to interview the character himself – Alex Verus.

We’ve tracked Alex Verus down to an undisclosed location in London to interview him for Orbit readers. We find the probability mage in a leather jacket, sitting at the front of the café, alternating between reading his book and staring watchfully out of the window.

It’s my round – what are you having, Alex?
Tea sounds good, thanks. Milk, no sugar.

You said you were coming here by tube today. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever overheard on the Underground?
I don’t really take cabs ever since that time one got blown off the road while I was inside it. Overhearing . . . if I’m eavesdropping, it’s because I’m on the lookout for something. I pretty much filter out personal conversations these days.

We’ve heard rumours you’re working for Richard again, the Dark Mage who you were once apprenticed to. Are the rumours true?
I suppose.

Does this mean you’ve gone to the Dark Side?
You sound like a reporter trying to get a soundbite. “Alex Verus, who is reported to be currently working for Richard Drakh, denied allegations that this means he’s a Dark mage”. Look, piece of advice: if you really think someone’s a Dark mage, you shouldn’t be interviewing them. Those guys do not respond well to personal questions.

Got it! So, dark magic, light magic, cabs getting blown off the road, it all sounds pretty stressful. If you won two all-expenses paid holiday tickets to get out of the city and get away from it all for a while, who would you take?
I did that last January, minus the all-expenses-paid part. We got targeted by assassins an average of once per week. I think we’re using “get away from it all” to mean different things. London’s a lot easier to avoid attention in.

You seem like a Londoner through and through. What’s your favourite London attraction?
Probably the Heath. It’s big and open and I like the company.

And what’s that you’re reading there?
Tactics and procedure manual for the Order of the Star. Not that exciting.

As a mage who can see the future, you don’t fancy giving us next week’s lottery numbers, do you?
If I could, that would mean that they were predetermined by the operators, which would mean that you’re only winning if they want you to. I don’t know if that’s what you’re hoping to hear. Anyway, got to go. If the guy in the blue shirt over there comes over once I leave, you should probably tell him you don’t know who I am. Thanks for the tea.