Author Benedict Jacka stops by SciFiChick.com today on his blog tour for an exclusive interview! Jacka has written the recent release Fated as well as the sequel Cursed which releases today.

Can you tell us a bit about Alex Verus?

Alex is a diviner: he can see the probabilities of possible futures. He was originally trained as a Dark mage and it ended badly, and when he went to the Light mages that ended badly too. As a result he’s ended up divorced from magical society, running a small magic shop in North London. He’s been keeping his distance from other mages for years, and they’ve been happy to forget about him . . . until the events of the first book, Fated.

What can you tell us the sequel Cursed?

After the events of Fated Alex is on better terms with the Light mages, but that doesn’t mean they like him. When a new adaption of an old life-draining ritual surfaces, Alex gets caught between several groups, Light and Dark, who all want to get it. Along the way Alex also has to deal with a monkey’s paw, find out who keeps sending assassins after him, and figure out what to do with Luna’s new boyfriend.

Alex is a mage with a unique ability. Are all of your mages (light and dark) the result of his or her gifts (something they’re born with), or can it be a choice?

The type of magic that a mage can use is set by their personality, so the question of choice vs nature in magic works exactly the same way as it does in psychology. Mages definitely do start out with a certain inclination magic-wise, but it can also change depending on the choices they make and (especially) what they use it for, in the same way that the actions you take affect your long-term character. I spend a lot of time working out this sort of world-building information – there ended up being so much of it that I started putting it in a series of weekly articles on my website called the ‘Encyclopaedia Arcana’ because putting it all in the books would have slowed them too far down.

How many books do you have planned for Alex Verus?

Lots! *laughs* #1 through #3 are written, I’m writing #4 now, and I’ve got ideas for #5. As long as people are going to keep buying Alex Verus novels then I’m going to keep writing them . . . at least for the moment. I’m sure a natural end point will come sooner or later for the series, but right now I don’t know when that will be.

What’s next for you, besides your these Alex Verus novels? Any other stories on the horizon?

Nope, it’s all Alex Verus all the time right now! I’m spending the bulk of my free time on writing Alex Verus #4 and most of what’s left goes on Encyclopaedia Arcana articles.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

I actually started out as a children’s fantasy author, and for a long time that was how I saw myself. My first three novels were children’s fantasy or young-adult fantasy, depending on how you look at it, with a this-world-and-otherworld style, and I’ve written several others too. The more I kept writing, though, the more I noticed something odd – I seemed to do best when I only did either ‘childrens’ or ‘fantasy’ but not both. Finally I tried just doing ‘fantasy’ with the Alex Verus series, and I haven’t looked back since then.

What inspires you?

Weather. I can spend ages staring out of the window at clouds and sky, usually while my brain replays little bits and pieces of past stories and films and books. The one thing I can’t stand is not having an outside view.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

Watership Down by Richard Adams is one of my old favourites – I read it so many times as a boy that I practically know it off by heart. I’m also a fan of Jack Vance, especially his later books like the Lyonesse series. Agatha Christie is great, and there are very few of her books that I don’t own a copy of, and it’s probably not a surprise to anyone who’s seen any of the Alex Verus covers that I’m a fan of Jim Butcher. More recently I’ve also been reading my way through Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.

What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

Skating. I had a set of four-by-four skates when I was a little kid and I switched up to inline skates when they came in. I’ve been skating almost as long as I’ve been walking and it’s still how I get around London if I have the choice. (Actually, I’m just about to skate down to the London West End as I’m typing this now.)

Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview, and hope you enjoy the book! It’s been quite nerve-wracking watching the Alex Verus novels roll out, but I’ve been really encouraged by all the positive feedback I’ve gotten. Hopefully Cursed will be as well-received as Fated was, and I’ll be able to keep writing more in the series!

Courtesy of the Ace Books, I have a copy of Cursed by Benedict Jackafor one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 15. I’ll draw a name on June 16, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!