Having previously reviewed Ben Aaronovitch’s first book, Rivers of London (U.S. title Midnight Riot) here on Chicks with Crossbows, it’s no great secret that I enjoy his work. So I was naturally very pleased to find out that he would be visiting one of the local Waterstones branches here to promote the latest book in the series. I’ve been anticipating his newest release, Whispers Underground, for quite some time now. I really enjoyed the sequel to River of London, the aptly named Moon Over Soho; so needless to say, my excitement was similar to that of a small child in a sweetshop when I found out that not only was the book coming out soon, I’d also possibly be able to meet the man behind the words!
Now, there’s probably something I should explain here (and a story that I shared with Ben yesterday at the signing) that I didn’t explain in my previous review. The first time that I was reading Rivers of London, I was on a train, and downloaded the book to my phone to fill the time. I’m sure you can see where this is going. A compulsive reader on a train is a dangerous thing. I will not hesitate to admit that not only did I miss my stop, I utterly failed to notice that I’d missed my stop until the train came to a halt a couple of stations later. I believe my first awareness of the world around me again was the rude interruption of an announcer stating a present location that was decidedly not my intended destination. Oops.
Regardless, this should give you some idea of how absorbed I was in the book. I’m relatively certain that I laughed quite audibly several times while reading, but I completely failed to notice any odd looks given to me by other passengers. Needless to say, any book that can distract me quite so effectively definitely deserves credit where credit is due.
Happily, it turns out that not only is Mr. Aaronovitch an exceedingly talented wordsmith (despite the fact that he makes me miss train stops and laugh in public, shock horror), he’s also very nice to talk to in person. I rather pathetically confessed to being a little bit nervous upon meeting him (one of those instances when I was definitely as shy as I felt, for once). That wore off after a couple of minutes, but I think that was because he greeted me with, “Not what you expected?” and grinned, indicating himself and managing to set me at my ease. This being despite the fact that I might have been a wee bit starstruck. Ben followed this up by admitting to some nerves as well and near gleefully expressing his enjoyment of signing from the balcony floor overlooking the whole bookshop. From there I managed to ask a few nosy questions that he very kindly answered for me.
One of the answers that he gave which I found very interesting was in regards to the length of the finished manuscript of Whispers Underground. Ben stated that he came in at just under 100,000 words, and that he feels that this is a realistic length for him personally. Of course, we both acknowledged that other authors have gone beyond that, but I agree with him that the length he stipulates for himself is a good one. It’s enough words to fit all of the details in without feeling as though you’re under pressure to immediately produce more.
And of course, I got my lovely copy of Whispers Underground signed!
If you’ll now excuse me, I believe that I’ll be busy devouring it. If anyone needs my attention before I finish it? I wish you luck in trying to get it.