Benjamin Cheah, author of Eventual Revolutions

Welcome, Benjamin. It’s good to talk to you today. What is your book about?

Eventual Revolutions is a mystic thriller novella. Michael Chang, professional magician, is hired to send a runaway girl home. But he must face demons, gangsters, and the ghosts of his past. This is the first book in the Michael Chang series.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Lots of things. The hard-edged, gritty realism of thrillers. The thoughts of various philosophers. My own spiritual journey. The people I know. I’ve been thinking about the Michael Chang series for half a decade. This is the first time I managed to write a viable Michael Chang story.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I’ve been compared to Michael Chang. It’s true that I’ve poured a fair bit of my personality into his, and some of his experiences and history are based on mine. But honestly, I see bits and pieces of myself, who I was, am and can be, in every single character I write. I suppose, at some point and to varying degrees, a work of fiction is an autobiography in disguise. Especially if it’s written in first person, like the Michael Chang series.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Before I start writing a story, I have an opening scene in mind, the themes of the story, the major characters, and a sense of how the story will flow. Sometimes, I have an idea of the climax, important plot points, and the ending – but I don’t wait for that before I start writing. I prefer my stories to grow organically from the beginning, informed by my characters’ abilities and motivations.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes. Wherever possible, I walked the ground where Michael went, to get a feel of the location. I also studied violence at least as intensely as Michael did to prepare myself for the action scenes, scrounging from Internet resources and books on the subject matter, and talking to a few people I know who are much more knowledgeable than me in this subject.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

When there are no more changes to make, no corrections to be done, and when the entire story flows seamlessly.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

For this book, I want people to recognise that they have free will, that they can choose to make their lives better. It’s not easy, it requires a lot of work, but it’s possible.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The real world is complicated. Don’t seek simple answers. Seek instead complete answers. Don’t be satisfied with what people tell you. Always look for the full picture, and discard everything that does not meet the test of logic and reason. Always strive towards a greater understanding of the world, without settling for dogma or over-simplicity. Every action has a consequence. And always remember that you are free – and with this freedom comes the necessity, burden and power of choice.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Without a doubt, the climax. I had to rewrite the entire sequence a couple of times, and make a hundred or so edits before I was fully satisfied. I had to make sure everybody stayed in character, that the escalation was realistic, the tactics employed feasible, the mindsets plausible, and the writing solid. At the same time, it’s probably the best segment I’ve written in a while.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’m a blogger and a citizen journalist. I grew up in a working-class family that was hit hard by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. I had to save as much money as I could, because there wasn’t much left after we pay the bills. I study violence fairly intensely. Much of what I know I taught myself. This background became the basis for Michael Chang’s history, skills and mindset. My experiences as a self-taught journalist and blogger also influenced my style somewhat.

What are you working on right now?

Two things. I’m editing Watchman. It’s a short story that follows Michael’s exploits some time after Eventual Revolutions. In Watchman, Michael protects a pair of women (and himself) from a trio of hardcases in a club, and redefines his sense of right and wrong. I’m also writing Games of Magi, a novella that follows Watchman. In Games of Magi, Michael meets a fellow magician whom he doesn’t particularly like, and must decide whether to treat him as friend, foe, or something else.

Does writing come easy for you?

Words come easy enough. The real trouble lies in picking what words to use, and how to arrange them into a coherent and powerful narrative. That one is decidedly more difficult than just plunking words on the screen.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

At any given moment, a half-dozen at least. Right now, I’ve got the outlines of 4 more Michael Chang stories, waiting to be written. I’ve got a military science fiction story idea that is fusion of Ghost in the Shell (manga, anime and movie), The Unit and Deus Ex. And I’ve also got an occult noir story idea, which is ‘traditional’ urban fantasy meets Arkham Horror (the tabletop game) and the detective thriller.

What do you like to read?

I like fiction that is intelligent, illuminates the human condition, provoke thought, realistic, and entertaining in a realistic fashion. My favourite writers include Barry Eisler, Marcus Sakey, Jim Butcher, Marcus Wynne, Cormac McCarthy and David Drake. As for non-fiction, I read all kinds of things, so long as it’s insightful, well-researched, and cogent.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Write. Write until you are done. Keep going until you are done. Stay true to your vision, but change your vision if it harms the story and your overall writing style. Learn everything you can about writing and publishing and promotion, and use that knowledge well. If you keep improving yourself, dedicate yourself to being all you can be, at some point, you will be noticed. And then the cycle begins anew, and you need to do the same thing all over again – only at a deeper level.

Where can we learn more about your book?

Eventual Revolutions is available at the following:

Benjamin Cheah’s ebook store (preferred):




Connect with Benjamin Cheah here:




Click here for an interview with: Michael Chang, protagonist of “Eventual Revolutions” by Benjamin Cheah

Michael Chang, protagonist of “Eventual Revolutions” by Benjamin Cheah

Welcome. Who are you?

Michael Chang. I run a spiritual consultancy service. That’s legalese for ‘professional magician’. Think of me as the guy who solves problems that can’t be solved so easily. If you have a stalker, I can make him go away. If you’re struggling to make an important decision, I can read your situation and help you decide. And if someone you know has been possessed by a demon, call me and I’ll send it back to whatever hole it crawled out of.

Where do you live?

I live by myself in a studio apartment in Toa Payoh, the Republic of Singapore. Most Singaporeans live in flats with their families, what Americans would call ‘apartment blocks’. The government encourages this through tax breaks and propaganda, and it’s pretty expensive living on your own over here. But I have to. Need to. Only way for me to develop my skills and stay sane – and to prevent my enemies from causing collateral damage if they attack me at home.

What is your problem in the story?

In Eventual Revolutions, Anna Tan ran away from home. Her parents want me to bring her back. It’s supposed to be an easy job: cast a couple of spells that would re-arrange the universe and influence her to come home. But the demon who ‘encouraged’ her to leave home took offence. So do the gangsters who are holding her. And, along the way, I need to keep my cool, remain calm even though the clients resemble my parents so much it’s not funny.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

Yeah. In my line of work, sometimes you make powerful enemies. Some of them aren’t human. Sometimes, you have to make difficult choices, and attract the wrong kind of attention. It’s bad karma all around. At some point, it’s gonna come around and sneak up on me with a knife in some dark alley. It’s inevitable. You can’t run from karma. So I’ll be preparing for that moment. This is why I need to be so careful in the story, why I need to study violence and magic, why I need to stay away from the law and violence lifestylers. Maybe it’ll reduce the karma coming my way, turn it from a runaway train to a sledgehammer. Or maybe not.

Do you embrace conflict?

It depends. Conflict is transformative. It is the furnace that forges steel from the soul. And to get things done, sometimes you have to put yourself in conflict with others. In my spiritual journey, I embrace conflict when it comes to me, when it serves a purpose. But I don’t drag it out any longer than I have to – I go into conflicts with a view to solving them, be it an obstructive bureaucrat, annoying demon, or criminal hunting someone down. I don’t start conflicts when I don’t have to. I don’t go around being rude, hunting demons for fun or provoking really powerful beings without good reason, and I sure as hell won’t walk into conflicts that are suicidal. Or just plain stupid. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

How do you see yourself?

I’m a human looking for a quantum of truth in a messy, complicated world. And who is sometimes called upon to do some things most people can’t.

How do your friends see you?

I’ve got very few friends. They told me that they think I’m a complex, intelligent man who can be counted on to get things done and who demands the best of people. Also, a jaded man with many emotional issues, who lacks social skills, who has a penchant for violence. The kind of guy who might, someday, eat a knife in the back, or worse. The kind of guy who might change the world. Maybe both.

How do your enemies see you?

I don’t have very many enemies. I try to neutralise them as quickly as I can. I think they think of me as a smart, dangerous and ruthless person who will destroy them if they cross me. Usually they see me assaulting them or negotiating with them. If they see me at all.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

I’d say so. He and I talk often. Compare notes. Helps that we think in similar ways.

What are your achievements?

Every time I complete a job, that’s an achievement. Every time I stop a predator from harming someone, that’s an achievement. Every time I finish a dangerous job safe and sane, that’s an achievement. Every time my work becomes one step closer to fiction, that’s an achievement.

Do you have any skills?

Magic, obviously. I’m not talking about Hollywood magic – I’m talking about magic that lets you change the universe to your will, act subtly yet powerfully on the fabric of reality. I’ve been studying the use of magic ever since the day I was cognisant of its existence. I’m a general purpose magician – I’ve studied healing, divination, cleansing, protection, destruction, enchantment…all kinds of useful stuff. But my talents seem to run towards divination and protection…and, arguably, destruction. And, well, talking to the gods too.

I’ve also studied violence. Since I was a boy, I looked into the employment of violence in all its forms. For entertainment, self-discovery, sport, self-defence, offence. To enhance social standing, to get what you want, to utterly destroy somebody. Much of what I know is self-taught – I could never afford formal martial arts training. My arsenal of techniques is actually very limited – it’s a patchwork of techniques from all kinds of martial arts, backed by knowledge of body mechanics. It’s closer to a set of combatives and tactics than any formal art. I’m not gonna win any competitions. But what I do know has seen me through many difficult situations. That’s good enough for me.

Do you have money troubles?

Yes, unfortunately. Singapore is the eighth most expensive city in the world to live in, and there’s very little demand for magical services in the First World. The majority of my actual income comes from my day job as a freelance writer, followed by various divination services. What I do earn is just barely enough to pay the bills. In a good month.

What do you believe?

I believe that reality is way more complicated than the claims of priests, scientists and ideologues. I’ve done things that should have broken the laws of science. I’ve seen things that defy religion and non-religion. I’ve experienced things that too many people say are impossible. I believe that if we are ever going to understand reality, we need to set aside every preconception, truly study the world for what it is, and base interpretations on that study.

What makes you happy?

When I complete something difficult. When a work of magic goes off perfectly. When I have a chance to appreciate the finer things in life. Good music, good food, good people. When I prevent somebody or something from harming others, preferably without violence. When I get a glimpse behind the veil and see something truly divine.

What are you afraid of?

That I’ve screwed up somewhere, somehow, and innocent people are going to suffer for it. Or that someone or something somewhere is coming for me and I won’t see it coming until it’s too late. There’s a lot I can’t see. And what you don’t know can kill you.

What makes you angry?

Lots of things. The whole gamut of human failures. Closed-mindedness. Hypocrites. People who cling to their beliefs instead of seeing reality. People who blindly follow tradition, just because it’s tradition. Unnecessary violence. People who, when given a chance to transcend their failures and weaknesses, choose instead to define themselves by them. Beings who harm innocents, or use them for their own ends without informed consent. Bad logic. People who prey on others.

What makes you sad?

People who squander their potential. People who make bad choices when they know better. People who close their eyes when faced with the truth. Victimisation by predators, tyrants and societies.

What do you regret?

Lots of things. Not learning social skills when I was younger. Not learning how to fit in until later in life. Not making more friends whenever I had the chance. Choosing violence when there was a better way. Failing to avoid the use of violence. Sometimes I wonder if this magic business is worth it.

Are you honorable?

I set myself a code of behaviour, and I live my life by it. If people think of me as honourable, well, I’m not going to stop them.

How do you envision your future?

Meh. I’ll probably continue to be the self-taught occult detective-cum-warrior poet-cum-mystic seeker Benjamin Cheah wants me to be. He tells me he’s got 4 more stories about me in the works. Along the way, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be inching this much closer to the truth and a greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Where can we find out more about you?

Eventual Revolutions can be found at the following sites:

Benjamin Cheah’s ebook store (preferred):




Click here for an interview with: Benjamin Cheah, author of Eventual Revolutions