Scott is always delighted to hear from readers, but if you’d like a quick reply to a question you want to ask him, check below as the answer may very well be here!
1. Do Scott’s books need to be read in the order they were published, or doesn’t it matter?
If you’re a new reader and find that you’ve picked up a book that’s midway through the Ben Hope series, don’t worry – it’s not essential to read them in order as each one can be largely be read as a stand-alone story. You won’t be left scratching your head wondering who’s who or what’s happening. However, if you really want to get a feel for the ever-evolving character of Ben Hope and experience the full impact of the various twists and surprises that pepper his life, the ideal thing is to follow his adventures from the start.
Below is the complete list to date of Ben Hope novels and novellas, in order of their chronological sequence starting with Passenger 13, which is a prequel to books written earlier:
Bring Him Back
The Alchemist’s Secret
The Mozart Conspiracy
The Doomsday Prophecy
The Heretic’s Treasure
The Shadow Project
The Lost Relic
The Sacred Sword
The Armada Legacy
The Nemesis Program
The Forgotten Holocaust
The Martyr’s Curse
The Cassandra Sanction
Star of Africa
The Devil’s Kingdom
The Babylon Idol (May 2017)
2. I’ve read all the series except The Hope Vendetta. Is this a new Ben Hope novel?
No, The Hope Vendetta is the title that US publishers Simon & Schuster have given to The Doomsday Prophecy. Other than the title change, it’s exactly the same story! So if you’ve already read Doomsday, please don’t go buying The Hope Vendetta expecting a brand new Ben Hope adventure – you’ll be disappointed. Scott had no intention of creating any confusion with the titles, but being merely the book’s author and not its publisher, he doesn’t get a say in these things!
3. Are Scott’s books available in other languages?
Yes, the list of translated editions of Scott’s books grows constantly. It currently includes Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Taiwanese, Thai and Turkish. English language editions also exist for Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
4. How does Scott do his research?
It depends on the subject he’s researching. To get a real flavour of a location, whether urban or countryside, he sometimes travels there in person – for example, he spent some time in Rome while putting together The Lost Relic, and for The Alchemist’s Secret he enjoyed exploring the mountainous region of the Languedoc in southern France. Scott always takes his trusty Nikon D90 with him, so he can bring home hundreds of images – of landscapes, cityscapes, cathedrals and ancient monuments and artifacts, that he then draws on for inspiration back at his desk in west Wales. Scott also makes extensive use of books, maps, the internet, and his own experience.
5. Where did the idea for the Ben Hope character originate?
Not from any carefully worked-out plan or deliberate desire to create a ‘commercial’ character who could carry a series, but instead completely out of the blue. Scott was out walking in the fields and hills of rural Wales one day, books and storylines the last thing on his mind, when pretty much the whole concept came to him, together with much of the storyline for the first book in the series, The Alchemist’s Secret. After that, it was just a question of filling in some of the details of Ben’s past and background. It’s the way that Ben Hope just seemed to materialise out of thin air, fully-formed as a person, that makes Scott feel so close to the character.
6. Where does Scott get all his story ideas from?
Just as the basic idea for the Ben Hope character came when least expected, Scott finds that it’s when his mind is elsewhere that the best ideas can suddenly strike out of nowhere. His countryside lifestyle often finds him outdoors, whether it’s splitting logs for the fire, tending to his little patch of woodland, or exercising his dogs – and it’s at these moments that an idea can come rushing in, sometimes almost fully developed. In other cases, researching the background for one book can spark off an idea that will eventually find its way into another. Or else, Scott finds himself drawing on events and people from his own life experience to inspire him. The rest of the time, it’s the traditional slog of scouring libraries, periodicals, the web and any other resource for ideas and information for the giant melting pot that it takes to put together a complex ‘history-mystery’ thriller.
7. Dogs often seem to feature in Scott’s writings. Is he a dog lover personally, and if so, what’s his favourite kind?
Yes, Scott is a big ‘dog person’ and his canine friends play a big part in his life. He was even once interviewed in the UK’s top dog magazine, Dogs Today, where he spent a lot more time discussing dogs than books! He’s been blessed with the companionship of many different kinds of dogs in his life. One of the most special was a Pekingese named Yoda – and yes, he really was just like Master Yoda of Jedi fame. Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Rottweilers are also among his favourite breeds. But his all-time top choice is (like Ben Hope) the German shepherd. The real-life Storm is Scott’s own dog, but doesn’t get up to as many adventures as his fictional namesake!
8. Does Scott read his fan email?
If it’s a wacky business proposition; a request for Scott to write, co-write or advise on a book manuscript; or anything else that might be inappropriate, it will be trashed before it reaches Scott’s personal inbox. Everything else is certainly read by him. Scott is always happy to hear from readers and will always do his very best to reply to each and every message he receives. If he’s out of the country on a research trip, or is up against a book deadline, he may not be able to reply immediately, so please be patient!
9. What does Scott do when he isn’t writing?
There is no question of being inactive or sitting idly in front of the TV in this author’s down-time! Scott has many other interests, which he tries to pursue when he can. Nature photography often takes him out to the beautiful wild places he loves so much. He is a keen archer, and has built his own archery range. Scott also likes to have a blast now and then with his Brown Bess musket, and has a lifelong interest in medieval longsword fighting. When he’s in a more contemplative mood, he will spend time with his astronomical telescope studying the night sky. He loves walking with his dogs. And he’s also a big movie fan, with a very eclectic DVD collection that ranges from Quentin Tarantino to John Ford and absolutely everything in-between. Aside from all that, of course, there’s his lifelong passion for good food and wine. Scott has to admit that he isn’t quite as Spartan in his gastronomic tastes as his character Ben Hope – though Ben could drink him under the table any day…
10. What advice would Scott give an aspiring or new author?
You have to believe in what you’re doing. Simply chasing the current popular literary fashion isn’t going to guarantee anything, except that by the time you’ve finished writing it the fickle marketplace is likely to have moved on to the ‘next big thing’. So be true to yourself and write from the heart. If you want to write commercial fiction, a strong story idea, punchily executed, and an even stronger lead character are far, far more important than fancy writing skills and a beautiful turn of phrase. A series of books featuring the same returnable hero / heroine will always be much more interesting to publishers and readers than a ‘stand-alone’. Writing is a business, so approach it with the same serious attitude that you would adopt if embarking on any other highly competitive and challenging endeavour, and don’t let anyone stand in your way. Be extremely careful who you bring on board to help you take your work to its target readership: while there are lots of great agents and publishers out there, there are also plenty of bad ones who, if you let them, will wreck your career even before it’s begun. (And Scott speaks from personal experience here – if he’d listened to what his first agents told him when he was just starting out, the Ben Hope series would not exist today. Don’t let it happen to you!) Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of going it alone. The rapid and revolutionary changes in independent eBook publishing are making it more and more feasible for authors to be their own publisher, retaining 100% creative control and a lot more of the profits. Whatever you do, however you choose to do it, enjoy the ride and good luck!