The paperback release so RED MOON by Benjamin Percy is tomorrow, and to celebrate, Benjamin has stopped by to answer a few of my questions and we’ve also got a copy of the book up for grabs! Please welcome Benjamin to the blog!
Your novel Red Moon is now out in paperback and has garnered some amazing reviews, but it’s not the only title under your belt. Have you wanted to be a writer from an early age? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up a manic reader, tearing through a book or two a week. There wasn’t a lot to do in rural Oregon, so I filled my days with fantasy. But I was initially chasing a career in archaeology, scouting out rock art sites for the Oregon Museum of Science and Technology, excavating a Pauite village with the University of Oregon. I had a ridiculous fedora, a leather satchel in which I kept precious stones and projectile points and bones, even a bullwhip I would use to snap Coke cans off fenceposts. Gradually the Indiana Jones fantasy dissolved—and I realized that all along I had been chasing a narrative. I changed my major and began to write seriously, dedicating ten to twenty hours a week to the keyboard, my sophomore year of college—and I’ve never looked back.
In Red Moon, a prion has caused an infection that leads to lycanthropy, and young Claire is a lycan living with her parents when she is sent on the run after a terrorist attack. Patrick survives a rampaging lycan and is dubbed “Miracle Boy” by the media. What did you enjoy most about writing Claire and Patrick and why do you think readers will connect with them?
Red Moon has a big cast of characters, but Patrick and Claire are the central narratives, drawn toward and in opposition with each other. Star-crossed lovers. Both unanchored, both reeling from the loss of their respective families, both trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. The danger and the love they experience makes for good trouble—that’s what makes them fun to read (and write) about.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
Every story is a research project. With Red Moon, I read books, articles, blogs—watched documentaries—conducted interviews—and spent as much time as I could in the field to enhance the credibility of the fantasy I was constructing. I talked to soldiers, politicians, government agents, brewmasters, pilots, and scientists who specialized in animal-borne pathogens. I filled up a dozen yellow legal tablets when talking to researchers at Iowa State University and the USDA labs. They were essential to me creating a physical analogue to the werewolf myth, a slippery science my readers might buy into.
What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I think about a novel for a good year before I hit the keyboard. On my office wall I hang a scroll of paper—ripped from my kids’ Melissa & Doug art easel—and begin to sketch out a design. On the left side of the scroll, I sketch out characters, building characters, figuring out their histories and desires. When I set obstacles in the way of their desire, I have the first stirrings of plot—and these threads reach across the scroll and tangle together. Of course all of this is done in pencil. So much will change when I actually begin to write.
I’ve always been more of a dog person.
Obviously, Red Moon deals with some very scary situations, but what is something that you find truly terrifying?
My children in harm’s way. That’s the only thing that really scares the hell out of me.
What are a few authors or novels that have influenced you the most not only in your writing, but in life?
Peter Straub has been a great friend and mentor to me. I grew up on his novels, which manage to be both literary and genre, neither fish nor fowl. He writes elegantly about gripping, dark subjects—and I’m chasing his tracks in the mud, along with the work of Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Michael Chabon, Kate Atkinson. Straub is a gentleman, a great literary citizen who goes out of his way for others, and I hope to show the same generosity to others.
What are you reading now?
I just finished a fantastic novel by Aaron Gwyn that’s coming out this summer: Wynne’s War. It’s meticulously researched and brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, a great adventure story set in Afghanistan among a rogue Special Forces unit.
What’s next for you?
I just handed in the final edits for my next novel—also with Grand Central/Hachette—The Dead Lands, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark passage. It’s scheduled to hit stores in January 2015.
2.) Giveaway is for 1 paperback copy of RED MOON by Benjamin Percy to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to US residents or those with a US address for mailing (no PO Boxes)
4.) You must enter on or before 1/22/14
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of Grand Central Publishing
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
About RED MOON:
They live among us.
They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.
When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is.
Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero.
Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy.
So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.