Susi Qs – Week 37 – Alexandra Benedict

This week I’m talking to my lovely friend, the very talented Alexandra (AK) Benedict. She is an award-winning writer of novels, short stories and scripts. Her most recent novel is The Christmas Murder Game. She was an RLF Fellow, ran the highly successful Crime Thrillers MA at City University, and now mentors, coaches and edits writers.  She lives by the sea with writer Guy Adams, their daughter, Verity, and dog, Dame Margaret Rutherford.

Take it away, AK…

What’s your secret party piece?

I can recite Pi to many places, sung to the tune of The Smiths’ Shoplifters of the World Unite and Take Over. I can also do the splits, and juggle. I have yet to do all of these at one time. 

What was your first gig?

BROS, Global Push Tour, Bournemouth International Centre, February 1989. I didn’t have Doc Martens so I attached Grolsch bottle tops to my Clarks corrective shoes.

Are you any good at potato sculpture?

I love crafting but had hitherto not partaken in potato carving. Always keen to acquire a new skill, today I made a first foray into the art by attempting to sculpt a heart. It was a soothing activity, yet full of melancholy, for I found deep symbolism in how I kept whittling away at the heart, trying to make it perfect. 

Who would you rather play golf with – Michael McKintyre, Take That, or The Queen?

Crazy golf with all of Take That, and I mean all, would be an excellent late afternoon activity. I would place a bet on Jason Orange winning by some margin, Robbie cheating in a charming manner, Mark getting cutely annoyed by people not following rules, and Gary Barlow managing to win another round on that last hole that pilfers your balls.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

I am an arachnophile so the idea that I could eat one (live! Aah!) by mistake is horrifying. I apologise to the spectres of any spiders I’ve swallowed.

Have you ever broken a bone?

When I was 17, I went to see Jim Rose’s circus at Poole Arts Centre. Me and my best friend were approached in the interval to join Jim and his self-proclaimed freaks backstage after the show. Now I was, and remain, rather naive, and hadn’t counted on entering a room filled with other teenage girls, and only girls, and a lot of booze. We were all told to sit on the floor for a ‘ special after show performance’ which involved one particular circus ‘member’ taking out his cock, in close proximity to me and the other young women, and twisting it into odd shapes. It looked, and I felt, extremely uncomfortable. We didn’t stay for the finale. It was the night before my first A Level exam so afterwards I had to run for the bus in the depot opposite. My only obstacle was time and the railings that surrounded the bus station. I tried to vault the railings, and instead crashed onto the pavement. I screamed. Fortunately, an ambulance was in the depot and took me to Poole Hospital where it was found that I had badly broken my elbow.

You can’t plaster up a broken elbow so I had to wear a sling, and it fucking hurt. The injury continued to be painful for years, until one day, stopping at Glastonbury after going to the festival, two women approached me. One looked like, and probably was, a cat, the other called herself a psychic surgeon. The Cat Woman declared me a Star Child and the psychic surgeon gave me a free consultation at the back of a shop that smelled of patchouli, feet and chai. My elbow has yet to hurt since. I presume the placebo effect giving it welly, but it’s still weird.

Is there life on other planets?

Probably. It is highly unlikely that Earth is the only planet to support life of some kind.

What’s the last book you read?

Bob Mortimer – And Away. I adore Bob and he writes SO WELL.

How many times have you watched Top Gun?

I watched it a lot when growing up. I’m going to guesstimate 17 times. At a Christian camp talent contest when I was 14, I dressed up as Maverick and serenaded a male leader in a Kelly McGillis wig with You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling. I couldn’t understand why the leaders were so concerned that we were going to corrupt the watching innocents. They should have more concerned with all the innocents having sex in the bushes.

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?

Coconuts are a test sent from the gods. When humans can open coconuts using only their minds, the gods shall reveal themselves.

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If you want to know more about Alexandra, you can find her on twitter @ak_benedict. Her books can be purchased HERE and HERE.

 

Harrogate Happenings

Yesterday afternoon, I returned from my annual trip to Harrogate for the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, the event where 100s of crime writers, bloggers, authors, industry professionals and many, many readers converge at The Old Swan hotel (of Agatha Christie disappearance fame…) for a weekend of talks, parties, drinks, books, scandals and hangovers. As usual, the festival was excellent fun – and even the rain didn’t stop play 🙂

Great things…

  • The Pimms-in-A-Tin tent… genius
  • Promoting my new book The Deaths of December at the Hodder drinks party, which included pulling crackers and saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a lot of bemused faces (and keeping my reindeer antlers on all night afterwards)
  • Reading my short story ‘The Chair’ while my fellow Slice Girls A.K. Benedict and Steph Broadribb duct taped author Neil White to a chair at The Blues Bar (thanks to Zoe Sharp for the torch!)
  • The Slice Girls performance afterwards (as part of fringe event Noir At The Bar)
  • The Dark Side panel on Friday, featuring Clare Donoghue, Elly Griffiths (this year’s fab festival chair), Simon Toyne, Lesley Thomson & James Oswald – chatting about supernatural elements in crime and why we should all read it
  • Chocolate cake and Prosecco at the Bonnier drinks party
  • Hanging out with lots of really cool people and laughing very much at lots of unrepeatable and ridiculous thing (…laughing at Katerina Diamond telling me to stop laughing so much)
  • Ed’s highanus
  • Danny not being dead

Annoying things…

  • Not getting a burger because it started to piss down with rain and they had to close it down before everything blew away
  • Not spending enough time with some people (and not seeing others at all…)
  • My agent not being there
  • Rain
  • Forgetting to buy Farrah’s fudge
  • Rod Reynolds*

Sad things…

  • Thinking about the beautiful Helen Cadbury, who had planned to be there and will always be missed 💔

Some pics below, mostly stolen from others. Thanks to the organisers for a fantastic event, my publishers for spoiling me with a lovely meal and showering me with praise, the cleaner at The Cairn for giving me extra biscuits, and all the lovely people who kept me entertained. Roll on 2018!!

*Not really 🙂