Whew! I’m very excited to be a part of this blog tour, peeps! I read and adored The Masque of the Red Death (read my review here) as part of the Gollancz Geeks very recently and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so quickly. I’ll be reading Dance of the Red Death and reviewing very soon. Promise! This is a great series, and you must know by now how fussy I am with my YA fiction, so that’s a fab endorsement. Below I have an interview with the lovely Bethany Griffin for you guys as well as a giveaway for my UK readers – no hoops involved. Just enter and cross your fingers. Enjoy!
Welcome to Once Upon A Time! Could you start us off by telling us a little about your inspiration behind the Red Death novels?
I’m a high school teacher, and I was rereading some less known Edgar Allan Poe stories (or at least stories that are less likely to be used in our curriculum) and came across Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is not a story I was particularly familiar with. The themes of the story seemed really relevant to modern times and the setting was fascinating. And it occurred to me that it would be a great setting for a book, and that a retelling or re-imagining of the story could be really interesting. My first thoughts were a typical dystopian type story set in the future, but as I was also reading a biography of Poe at the time, I started to wonder, what if it was set just a few years after his death? I was really excited about the premise, and both books were really fun to write.
Your books are so different from the Poe story! How did you come up with and go about implementing your changes?
Well, Poe’s story is quite short and only has one named character (Prince Prospero), so the biggest change I guess was coming up with characters. I wanted to keep Poe’s dichotomy of rich vs. poor, and I was really interested in writing a character in the grip of despair…and that’s where Araby came from. In some ways the first book is a prequel leading up to the events of Poe’s story (the Masque itself) but I think the events also stand on their own. I created the first disease and the masks, because I thought they would make an interesting backdrop and a contrast with the masks for the ball…and I loved the idea of a world where faces are obscured, where kissing is the most intimate of acts. Once I started writing Masque, I didn’t look back at the Poe story at all. EXCEPT when I was doing the actual Masque scene for Dance of the Red Death. For that I had to keep looking back and jotting down the colors of the rooms, and then whenever I’d rearrange rooms, which I did several times, I had to change the descriptions of the rooms.
Overall, my big changes were creating my own characters to interact within the plague infested world, and creating my own conflicts and overall plot that would compliment the upcoming ball, but not be completely focused on it.
What made you decide to bring in a love triangle and how important is it to Araby’s story?
I didn’t set out to write a love triangle at all, in fact, Elliott just sort of wormed his way into the position of love interest. That doesn’t sound very flattering to Elliott, but it’s true. The more scenes I wrote with Elliott the more sexual tension started to build up between him and Araby. I do think the love triangle is important for Araby, though. She has to start growing up and making decisions and owning them. Even in the beginning of book 2, she’s making decisions, but not about her love life. Deciding who she wants to be and who she wants to be involved with is a big part of her growth.
You really have a talent! Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have! I started writing stories before I could actually write, I would illustrate and my mom would write the words for me. I wrote several (terrible) novels in high school and kept scribbling and writing bad poetry and song lyrics through college. I don’t actually know what I would do with myself if I wasn’t thinking about writing or actually writing, or revising!
What’s next for Bethany Griffin?
This is a tough one, I’m going back and forth between two projects and I’m not sure which one readers will see first, but both are atmospheric and dark. I will say that my research trip to England and Scotland last summer lay the groundwork for several ideas that I’m very excited about!
Thanks to the lovely Nina at Indigo, one lovely person in the UK can win. You can choose to win The Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death if you haven’t started the series yet, or if you have you can win Dance of the Red Death on its’ own. Just let me know when I get in touch. Good luck!
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