I am delighted to welcome Benedict J Jones to take part in my Getting To Know The Character Interview with Charlie Bars
Can you describe your character?
Charlie “Bars” Constantinou is a three time ex-con from south east London who has finally vowed to go straight. After spending his thirtieth birthday on twenty-three hour lockdown he decided that there had to be a better way to live and that is something he is still searching for. While he is doing everything he can not to go back to prison Charlie’s world view is a pretty bleak one in which violence can be an everyday occurrence.
While in prison he developed a love of art and painting. For a while he tried to work as an artist but that alone wouldn’t pay the bills and hence the private detective work once he got tired of working in his uncle’s kebab shop.
Physically he is pretty unremarkable; five ten, prison build, short brown hair, green eyes. He does seem to have an ability to punch above his weight though. Throughout the books and stories he does seem to be accumulating scars, including one from a machete that bisects the palm of his left hand.
What is his job role and where does he work?
Charlie works as a private investigator, along with his partner Mazza Toshak, in London – although “The Devil’s Brew” sees him leave his usual stomping grounds for the rural wilds of Northumbria.
In quite a few of the stories the city herself is a major influence on events and operates very much as a character in its own right.
Where did the original idea of Charlie come about?
I was unemployed at the time and had been doing a lot of reading around fictional private investigators. The idea came to me of a man with an innate ability as an investigator who has never actually worked as one, down on his luck, who gets thrown into a case.
What makes him original?
I think his originality lies in several areas; in his criminal past, his artistic tendencies, and an inherent decency that comes through no matter how out of step that is with societal mores and the law itself.
What makes him tick?
I think that inherent decency I mentioned previously. Even when everything is finished Charlie can’t leave things alone if he feels there is a wrong that should be righted. Mazza often tries to convince Charlie that they aren’t white knights, they aren’t there to save people but Charlie can’t quite bring himself to believe that. In a lot of ways I think it stems from the guilt of things he has done in the past – he feels that he isn’t allowed a “normal” life until he has atoned for his crimes, despite the prison sentences he has completed.
What is his biggest fear?
Probably going back to prison. The three stretches that Charlie has done have mentally damaged him in a lot of ways.
If you and your character met in real life, do you think you’d get on?
That’s a great question and also one that I’ve considered a few times myself! I have to say even though I’ve poured a lot of myself into him Charlie has evolved and really taken on a life of his own. I think he’d tolerate me, perhaps, rather than like me. We could share a few beers but I don’t think we’d end up being best mates – maybe it’s because I’ve put him through so much.
Who would you like to see play Charlie if your books were made into a film or TV show?
That’s a question that has come up a few times. Some people have suggested Tom Hardy as Charlie but I’ve always thought of Toby Kebbell would be great in the role
How many books do you have in the series so far?
Three books so far. There’s been a novella, “Skewered”, as part of a bigger collection (“Skewered and Other London Cruelties”) which also featured two short stories with Charlie, two novels “Pennies for Charon” and “The Devil’s Brew” as well as a handful of other short stories published in a variety of places.
What’s in store for Charlie next?
I’ve just finished work on the new Charlie Bars novel and it involves the murky world of British politics, long-forgotten secrets, the shadow world of government agencies, and feuding criminals with Charlie up to his neck in all of it.
Benedict J Jones is a writer of crime, horror and western fiction from south east London.
His debut novel “Pennies for Charon” has been described as a “masterful mix of crime and the occult…”.
His work has appeared in magazines such as One Eye Grey, Pen Pusher, Out of the Gutter and Encounters, on a variety of websites including Big Pulp and Shotgun Honey and in anthologies from Dark Minds Press, Crystal Lake Publishing, Full Dark City Press and Dog Horn Publishing.
You can check out all of Benedict’s book on Amazon and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/benedictjjones