Firstly I owe a big apology to both Bethany and the fantastic folk at Indigo for the fact this post is late. Unfortunately lots has been happening outside my blog and it’s affected my blogging. However, today’s post is not about me but the fantabulous Bethany Griffin and her awesome book The Masque of the Red Death which I adored, and knew I had to read the second I read the summary. I reviewed it here.
To celebrate her UK release, I have a lovely interview with the author! Today I am excited to be interviewing the wonderful Bethany Griffin as part of her blog tour for the UK release of her debut YA novel, The Masque of the Red Death published by Indigo.
Bethany, thank you for being here at ChooseYA. Could you tell us a little bit about your writing journey so far?
I started writing as a high school student, gave it up for a few years when I started a teaching career, and then came back to it as a passion later. I actually had a YA contemporary book published prior to Masque, though not in the UK, but Masque is the book where I discovered what I wanted to write about…it’s a book that is very dear/important to me.
The Masque of the Red Death is inspired by the Edgar Allen Poe’s short story of the same name. How did you go about using this story as an influence and retelling into a new and original form?
I read the short story multiple times, made notes, thought about the themes and imagery in Poe’s story, and then sort of set the original aside and jumped into the story that I wanted to tell. Poe’s story provides the setting and one character (Prince Prospero). So I thought a lot about Poe’s story before I wrote, and then put it away while was drafting.
Araby is a really interesting character. I love how flawed she is and her initial hunt for ‘oblivion’ at the Debauchery club. How did you go about developing her as the novel continued and her breaking out of her, in my opinion, depression?
I really think that a dark post-apocalyptic future would be so hard to live in, and for a teen girl without much recourse changing her world, whose entire existence has been shaken by the untimely death of her brother, I think depression is a natural state of mind. Plenty of teens (and adults) hunt for oblivion from lives that are less difficult to survive that Araby’s…I wanted her to start from a place of complete and utter desperation. I was fascinated by the idea of a suicidal character, and I wanted to see her grow and change. It’s a slow process, which I think is realistic. Expect much bigger changes for Araby in Dance of the Red Death.
Araby’s world is very unique. How did you go about building it and what sort of research did you do? Other than Poe what else influenced your world?
On one level I’d say that I didn’t do any research, on another level, I’d say I’ve done a lifetime of research. I love dark stories, post-apocalyptic stories, I’ve read a lot of stories in times of plague…so I just tried to create a world that felt real. I didn’t look up details about the black plague as I was writing the book, but lots of those details are in my head, I love history.
On a similar note, are there are any other literary influences you would like to mention?
I love so many authors, and I’m sure reading their books influenced me…Stephen King’s Dark Tower series influenced the undefined setting of Masque…I love the gothic feel of Anne Rice’s early books….
What novels have you got in the pipeline? What can you tell us about the sequel to the Masque of the Red Death?
While I wait for my next round of revisions on the sequel I’m actually working on two separate novels, hopefully I’ll be able to talk about at least one of them soon! Dance of the Red Death is the sequel to Masque…it has a masked ball obviously! You’ll see more of both Will and Elliott, and the story is resolved in this book, so now waiting for another one to finish the story! There is a scene with creepy bats and at least one scene with crocodiles…
What is the one thing you’d like readers to come away with at the end of your book?
I don’t really like to deal in messages, though I think there are some messages in Masque, I like to think more about atmosphere and the reading experience. I think I’d like readers to get lost in a sort of dreamy world that’s terrible and beautiful at the same time. I want them to have an engrossing reading experience.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
Typically I write in the evenings and on weekends. It isn’t a perfect routine, but it seems to work for me.
And finally, what has been your favourite moment in the publication process?
Seeing the book in person for the first time (though I haven’t gotten to hold the UK version yet—I do have ARCs from the UK!) but when you get to hold the finished product, then you know it’s real!