A K Benedict read English at Cambridge and
studied creative writing at Sussex. She now composes film and television
soundtracks, as well as performing as a musician. She lives in Hastings. Find
out more at www.akbenedict.com.
is the greatest of mysteries. After all, it figures in almost every crime
novel. And certainly every life. It hides, waiting, not letting itself be known
till right at the end like the very best of antagonists.
viewed in this culture as something to be feared, death is ignored where
possible, as if looking at it will draw its attention your way. Many avoid
planning their funeral because they don’t like to think of dying. Somewhere
along the century, we have lost the art of dying.
fiction at its best does not flinch from death. It holds it up as a reality to
be respected and railed against. Of course, there is no common approach. There
are those deaths that take place off screen and those that are vivid and violent.
Some are investigated until the violating perpetrator is caught, death’s
scapegoat slain so we can go home knowing that death is for someone else today;
for others there is no balancing justice for a life ripped away.
I wanted to explore death in Jonathan
Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts from early on in the planning stage. I was
grieving at the time: for friends and family members; for pets; for a marriage
and felt unable to talk freely about loss. Then I saw a tweet about the Death
Salon 2014 in London. Held at St Barts Pathology Lab in London, the talks on each day of the
conference represented a part of the dying process: the first was preparation
for death; the second day the act of dying itself; and the final day was after death. It
was attended by undertakers, mortuary assistants, archaeologists, historians,
anthropologists, artists, dark tourism specialists, writers. . . and all were
keen to discuss death in an open way. I left as a passionate advocate of the
Death-Positive movement, feeling joyous, excited and that death was a friend
reminding me to live now.
Death Salon helped me to not only exorcise some of my own ghosts but also to clarify
my conception of a ghostlocked world in Jonathan
Dark (not least because I was wandering around Smithfield’s after the first
day, possibly inebriated, and thought I saw the spirit of a butcher carrying a
side of beef). Personifying the things that haunt every one of us meant that I
could look at loss square on as well as through a spectral veil, placing death
as a narrative arc as much as life.
fiction whips the sheet off the spectre of death and exposes it to the light. The
greatest mystery is never solved but, in acknowledging it, shadows skitter;
ghosts retreat and we can begin living right now.
It’s a good idea, by the way, to have a Death Wish List: what you’d like for a
funeral, whether to be buried or cremated and where etc. It saves your loved ones second-guessing your
desires during their grief. If you don’t, there may never be that New Orleans
marching band playing David Bowie songs at a woodland burial. That’s mine, by
the way, just so it’s written down for posterity. I’d also like gothic cupcakes,
gin and tonics and karaoke at the wake. You’re all invited.
About the Book
King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch
and smell. But surgery has restored her sight - only for her to find she
doesn't want it.
Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he
is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it
seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in
the most gruesome of ways.
the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never
knew. Finding the truth will mean seeing a side to the city where life and
death is a game played by the powerful, where everyone is lost but nothing is
missing, and where all the answers are hiding, if only they listen to the
whispers on the streets.
through with love and loss, ghosts and grief, A K Benedict weaves a compelling
mystery that will leave you looking over your shoulder and asking what lurks in