This week, I interviewed Lake Benson - the man behind three series of books. Without him in Lingerie Wars, Invertary book 1, we wouldn't have any Benson Security books, and if we didn't have any Benson Security books, Callum would never have met the Sinclair Sisters. When you think about it, Lake Benson has a lot to answer for!
Before we get into the interview, let me tell you a little bit about him. Lake Benson, and yes that's his real name, was born into a family of "hippies". He grew up traveling around the country with his parents and two siblings - Rainbow and River - while they protested various issues. In an act of rebellion (and desperation for order), Lake joined the military at 16, where he found his groove. For twenty years, he served in the British Army as part of the special armed forces. Apart from that, we don't know much about his career as it seems to mostly be classified. If you ask him about it, he just raises and eyebrow and his lips twitch with amusement. He does seem to have connections everywhere, in every level of society, in the UK and around the world. He also seems to know rather a lot of spies...
Anyway, a few years ago, Lake went to Invertary to rescue the money he loaned his younger sister Rainbow (or Rainne). She'd sunk it all into buying Betty's old Knicker Emporium and it wasn't going well. That's when he met Kirsty Campbell, the former lingerie model who owned the competition. One little lingerie war later and Lake was proposing to Kirsty. They now have two gorgeous adopted daughters, a successful lingerie shop, and a growing security company.
But it isn't all sunshine and roses - they also have Betty.
Let's get on to the interview.
JEH: So Lake, your security company has taken off. You have an office in London, one opening in America, and a head office in Invertary. Do you ever think you'll take your head office somewhere that isn't in the middle of nowhere in the Highlands?
JEH: Lake, we talked about this, you have to answer with more than one word.
LB: Sorry, no, I don't plan on moving my head office.
JEH: Smart arse. So tell us about the new office in America. What brought that about?
LB: We seem to be taking on more work in the Americas, north and south, so it makes sense to have a presence over there. People who know the terrain and have the connections needed to get the job done. Was that long enough for you?
JEH: And comments like that are why you didn't get a second book... Anyway, if it's important to have people in the states who know the place and have connections, why are there so many Scottish people in the new team?
LB: Because that's where they'll be of the most use.
JEH: You mean, you ran out of places where they were welcome on this side of the pond and had to send them abroad! Have you considered not taking in every sad case you come across?
LB: Violet Lee and the triplets are far from sad. They have a tonne of skills between them.
JEH: And criminal records. And people after them. And problems with antisocial behaviour...
LB: I don't hear a question in there.
JEH: Fine here's a question. This comes from Andrew Dyer, who asks: Have you ever pranked Betty to get back at her for her behaviour over the years?
LB: Fine. No, I don't prank Betty. I control her. Or mitigate her behaviour, but I don't do anything as payback. To be honest, I don't think she's done anything that warrants retaliation. She earns her keep by being entertaining. Mainly, my time is spent trying to stop other people from killing her. I'd like to spend less time on that.
JEH: In a related question, Monica Parkhill asks: Why do you put up with Betty? Is there any way to make her a better human being?
LB: She has the mind of a military genius. In any other place or age, she'd be prime minister or running a conglomerate. But because she was born in a small town, with limited opportunities, in an age where women didn't get the same respect as men, she's had to find other outlets for her...ideas. And some of them are hilarious. Come on, she's the size of a Hobbit, built like a barrel, and cackles like a witch. On top of that, she's about four hundred yeas old. And yet, she can still upset the whole town with very little effort. That's entertaining.
JEH: Some people would disagree. Some would say that she's dangerous.
LB: Which is why I monitor her.
JEH: You're also the reason she has access to weapons.
LB: A little shock from a Taser never hurt anybody.
JEH: Have you told that to Grunt?
LB cocks eyebrow.
JEH: We know your sister Rainne is married to Alastair and they run a business together, but we never hear anything about your brother River, or your parents. Do you talk to them much?
LB: No. They disagree with my business. They think I'm running my own private army.
JEH: Aren't you?
LB: We offer security services and help to those who need it. That covers everything from protection work to investigative work. We aren't mercenaries.
JEH: But you do hire hackers, former spies (who may or may not have been assassins), and ex-military types. All of whom can get a little trigger happy. What is that if it isn't a private army?
LB: Look. Do we bend the rules a little? Yes. But we have integrity and a moral code that prevents the company from straying into unethical situations. We're the good guys.
JEH: You certainly seem to be a very close knit company. Some might even say a family. Do you encourage that?
LB: We're a unit. We look out for each other's backs. We don't leave anyone behind and we hold up the people who have problems standing on their own. We've all gone through tough times, there's nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to needing support, and that's what Benson Security teams do - they support each other. It's what makes us so good at our jobs.
JEH: The head of your American office is a former FBI agent. Word is that she left in disgrace. Does this bother you?
LB: Rochelle Davis is one of the most capable people I've ever met. She's smart and insightful, and hard as nails when necessary. I know exactly why she left the FBI and I don't have a problem with it. I've known her a long time and I'd trust her with my life.
JEH: Is she thrilled that her new team is filled with Scottish people who all have personality issues?
LB: Violet Lee is working on her anger control. And the triplets haven't been in jail for quite some time. I call that a win. Plus, Rochelle is just the boss they need. She won't let them get away with any crap.
JEH: Just to be clear for our readers. The triplets are three Scottish guys in their twenties who've had run ins with the law. We're talking a conman, a thief and a hacker. Aren't you worried that hiring them will ruin the Benson Security reputation? And don't just answer no!
LB: These three guys have IQs that register off the charts and skills that match. All they need is a firm guiding hand.
JEH: There you go, adopting the crazies again.
LB: I like to think of it as seeing the potential in people.
JEH: Like Betty?
LB: One day, war will break out and the government will just parachute her into the middle of the enemy zone. She'll have them desperate to surrender within 24 hours. That's potential.
JEH: And there you go entertaining yourself again... One last question: is it true you matchmake your friends and employees?
LB: I don't have a clue where you got that idea.
JEH: That wasn't a denial.
LB: It's been great talking to you, but I need to go pick up Kirsty from her mother's place. She's been helping knit for their next yarn bombing protest and she'll be there all day if I don't turn up.
JEH: That's avoidance! Answer the question.
And that was the end of the interview. I hope you enjoyed this catch up with Lake Benson. Look out for more interviews coming your way.