Dark Days of Summer 2012: Author Interview Bethany Griffin

I am so excited to have had not one, but two stops on the Dark Days of Summer 2012 tour.

But I’m even more thrilled to have been able to ask Bethany Griffin, the amazing author of Masque of the Red Death, just a few questions about her stunningly beautiful, deliciously dark, breathtaking, haunting and gorgeously written book. I even managed to sneak in just a few “This or That” questions because the interview questions weren’t enough.

For those of you who have not yet heard about this book or author, I’ve included some information below. And if you’d like to see what my Top Ten Reasons to read Masque of the Red Death are, you can check them out in my post for the tour, HERE.

About the Book

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


About the Author

Bethany Griffin has always admired Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. “The Masque of the Red Death,” which this novel reimagines, is one of her favorites.

“I’ve always loved the amazing atmosphere Poe creates,” she says. “But ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ is one of his shortest stories. I wanted to know more. I wanted characters and their stories within the context of this devastating plague. And that’s where this story originated.” Bethany Griffin lives with her family in Kentucky.


(Bio & Photo Source: HarperTeen)

And now for…

Q. Aside from Poe’s story, was there anything else that inspired Masque of the Red Death?

In the original first draft I started each chapter with a line from Sylvia Plath’s Mad Girl’s Love Song, and I guess on top of that there are many post-apocalyptic, gothic, or dystopian novels that inspired me because of atmosphere or setting, or the use of a plague in a story. It was definitely a combination of ideas and genres!

~Fiktshun: The Plath lines would have been a very interesting way to start off the chapters, but I love the end result, which kept the wonderful flow of this amazing book. And, IMO, it was such a great combination!

Q. The setting in Masque of the Red Death is futuristic but has a very Victorian Era feel. What made you decide to have elements of both in your story? And how challenging was it to combine the futuristic elements with past era elements?

Hmm, well, I have a very specific time period when I think the novel is set, but technology has advanced in a somewhat steampunk and somewhat necessary to the environment manner…with that being said, some of my favorite books are in an indiscriminate time period (Stephen King’s The Gunslinger series, for example) and my editor loved that angle of the stories, so I left the setting very ambiguous.

~Fiktshun: I absolutely loved the mix of eras. Keeping things vague left so much room for your creativity! And the world King created is a perfect example of that, too.

Q. In your story, the wealthy characters wear masks when they’re out and about to keep them from contacting the Weeping Sickness. While they are lifesaving, a masked society sounds very chilling and eerie. How did you envision this masked world you created? And how did you bring in warmth to this world that could otherwise be very cold and isolated?

Well, I tried to find places where they could safely take off their masks, like at the club. I found ways for them to read one another and communicate feelings while wearing masks, and one of the coolest side effects is that Araby says kissing has now become the ultimate act of abandonment.

~Fiktshun: You did that brilliantly. I imagined the characters getting just hints of emotions like raised eyebrows or smirks in the scenes with the masks. It was just those times when they weren’t emoting that I pictured a much scarier world. But oh yes, I totally agree with Araby about the kissing.

Q. You created some wonderful names for the characters and places in your story, like Araby Worth, Reverend Malcontent, the Debauchery Club, Akkadian Towers and the Morgue. How did you come up with them? And what made you decide to keep Prince Prospero’s name the same as it was in Poe’s story?

Well, Prospero was the only named character in Poe’s story, so I definitely wanted to keep him the same, I never considered changing it. As for the other names, this is going to sound like they were deeply symbolic, but it was mostly fumbling around for the name that felt right, and usually the name that felt right had a deeper meaning or connection for me. Araby’s name came from the title of a Poe compilation (Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque) The Morgue was also a Poe reference (Murders in the Rue Morgue) The Akkadian Towers was a reference to the tower of Babylon, Malcontent seemed like a worthy adversary for Prospero.

~Fiktshun: Wow, you really looked broadly for those names. They were perfect and fit so well into the story!

Q. Will and Elliott couldn’t be more different, yet Araby is drawn to both of them. What is it about each of them that appeals to Araby? And did you always intend for both boys to be such polar opposites?

Will and Elliott are from different backgrounds and have very different personalities. Both were shaped by adversity and by their very dark worlds. With Will, it’s really his attractiveness, and he flirts with Araby which is fascinating in itself. Once she gets to know him, there’s a lot more going on, but that initial attraction only gets stronger. Elliott is a go-getter, he’s doing things for other people, and even at her most apathetic, Araby sees that as a positive thing.

~Fiktshun: Yours was the first book in a long, long, long while that I just couldn’t choose which boy I liked more. Both had incredible appeal and both had positives and negatives. It must be so tough for Araby.

Q. Who was more interesting to write – Will or Elliott? And which boy was more of a challenge to write for? And why?

Hmm, I’m not sure that either was a challenge, so much as balancing them. There was a huge section of the book, where Will simply…wasn’t there. Which made the story very Elliott-centric. I had Araby think about Will, but he simply couldn’t be in any of the scenes. That was difficult to balance. I guess if I had to choose, Elliott is fun and has the most fun lines, but I do love my Will scenes, too. Maybe I love writing the Elliott scenes best and I love reading back over the Will scenes.

~Fiktshun: Love this answer!

Q. There were so many captivating moments in Masque of the Red Death. What was your favorite scene to write in the story – if you can reveal it without any spoilers?

I really like the scene I think of as ‘interlude at Will’s apartment’ because it’s the closest I let Araby come to being happy. But I also love sword fighting lessons with Elliott, and a certain hot air balloon scene (the original of that scene was totally different).

~Fiktshun: Oh, I love all those scenes and wish I knew just how the original hot air balloon scene went!

Q. There was a rather shocking twist in the story – which I won’t reveal – but was that twist always in your mind when you were writing or is it something that came to you later?

Yes, it was always there…I don’t consider it a twist so much as an inevitable thing that happens. There are a few clues that are difficult for me to point out without spoilers…but no, I consider it a tragic complication/choice rather than a twist. The difference between twist and complication may be tiny (or non-existent) but that’s how I think of it! I do understand how it would be shocking, but I think it’s also realistic. We’ll learn a bit more about the circumstances in book 2.

~Fiktshun: Oh, now I’m wondering if we’re talking about the same twist and/or complication! Because I now realize there were a few surprises. I was thinking of the surprise revelation one, rather than the tragic one. I wasn’t wholly surprised by the tragic one because you did leave some awesome clues. But I never suspected the other. Though I should have known….

Q. Masque of the Red Death was absolutely spellbinding, gorgeously written with such a unique feel to its delivery. As the series progresses, will the story retain the same qualities or should readers anticipate something very different in the future books in the series?

I’m embarking on revisions right now, and I think the feel of the story in draft one was pretty dead on, the setting and the atmosphere, staying consistent with book 1 (though now that you said all those nice things I feel rather full of myself for saying so). It will definitely go through rounds of revisions, I tend to work on everything and then go back and focus on atmosphere and language, and setting, and character developments. I think I revise way more than other writers, I tend to envision scenes and write and rewrite them to the point where I may only use about a fourth of the original words, as I add in details and then scale back.

~Fiktshun: First, yay! The atmosphere was so gorgeous and amazing. I am super thrilled it will have that same feel in book two. And second, wow! Well, I just have to say that those revisions work. Brilliantly. I am, of course, super curious about the process. If you only keep one-fourth, there are three totally different stories floating around out there. I’m intrigued!

Q. Masque of the Red Death ends on a bit of a cliff. Can you give those of us who are anxiously awaiting the sequel any hints on what we can expect to see in the next book?

A huge Masquerade ball! I’ll be posting more hints on my website as I finish revising, and as I get permission from my editor. She did give me permission to reveal a few snippets–these are on the Novel Novice site, which featured Masque throughout the month of May. I particularly love the last one and would love to reveal more of that scene. Definitely expect Araby to keep growing!

~Fiktshun: I will be stalking your website! And I’ll be devouring everything at Novel Novice, too. Thank you so much for sharing the link! And oh how I love a ball. I really hope the Red Death won’t be attending. Fingers are most definitely crossed against that happening. But I’m so happy to hear that Araby will be growing. She has not had the easiest time so far.

And now for a little…

Bad boys or good boys?   bad

Standalones or series?   series

Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic?   post-apocalyptic

Hero or villain?   hero

Happily ever after or happily never after?   depends on the story

All tied up or ends on a cliff?   I want my series tied up, but I can take a cliff hanger for an installment in something larger

Set in the past or set in the future?   either?

Heroines: Kick-A or damsel in distress?   a combination?

Heroes: White knight or reluctantly heroic?   I love a reluctant hero (or heroine)

Classics or contemporary?   contemporary

~Fiktshun: Well I hope this series ends with a happily ever after, though I’m not too sure if that will be possible given Will and Elliott. Oh, and the whole evil Prince Prospero. The plague. And all the other impediments to happiness in this story. Still, I hope…. And I so love a reluctant hero or heroine, too!

Thank you again so much for answering all these questions. I tend to like to find out a lot about the behind-the-scenes stuff, so I appreciate all the insight. You are an amazing writer and I can’t wait to not only read the remaining books in the series, but to see what you’ll write about after that.

And thank you, HarperTeen and Pitch Dark for inviting me to be on this tour. I cannot tell you how excited I was to find out that I was going to be interviewing and hosting Author Bethany Griffin and that I’d get to share my top ten reasons for reading this book.

And because hearing about the book from the author makes you just want more…

5/21   Aprilynne Pike @ AwesomeSauce Books
5/23   Bethany Griffin @ Fiktshun
5/25   Elizabeth Norris @ Literary Exploration
5/29   Veronica Roth @ My Overstuffed Bookshelf
5/30   Aprilynne Pike @ AwesomeSauce Books
6/1     Bethany Griffin @ Fiktshun
6/4     Elizabeth Norris @ Literary Exploration
6/6     Veronica Roth @ My Overstuffed Bookshelf
6/12   Aprilynne Pike @ Books with Bite
6/14   Dan Wells @ Hobbitsies
6/19   Veronica Roth @ The Mod Pod Bookshelf
6/21   SJ Kincaid @ SciFi Chick
6/26   Aprilynne Pike @ Books with Bite
6/28   Dan Wells @ Hobbitsies
7/3     Veronica Roth @ The Mod Pod Bookshelf
7/5     SJ Kincaid @ SciFi Chick

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