Today, we are thrilled to bring you part one of our three-part interview with Masque of the Red Death author Bethany Griffin. Thanks to Bethany for answering all our questions!
MASQUE is set in sort of an ambiguous place/time period. How did you establish the rules for technology, dress, etc.? What made you decide to use this sort of vague setting/time period rather than something more specific?
Well, there is a specific time period for Masque…in my head. And i did research inventions and styles, though I’m not sure why I took the trouble, since I ended up taking liberties with things like elevators (there’s only one working elevator in the city, but…there wouldn’t have been that many in the time period that was in my head!) and of course I augmented the technology of the time with a few steam powered inventions like the carriages. I actually did give the time period in one description, but when I spoke with my editor the first time, one of the things she loved was the ambiguity, and the uncertainty whether the book is in the past or the future, which got me all excited and I talked at length about Stephen King’s Gunslinger series, which seems to be in a version of the future, but is it… so it was obvious that we were both excited about the idea of leaving the time period up to the reader’s imagination. The time period in my head may have added some consistency, at least, I hope so!
I LOVED writing the ambiguous setting, but I’m also excited because my next planned project will have a very definite setting, I’m actually going to England this summer to do research! I think it will be refreshing, and also I don’t want to come across as the lazy writer who just makes everything up (even though it probably would be somewhat accurate).
I felt that Poe’s story was under-appreciated. Which is not to say that I set out to make people appreciate it, I didn’t write Masque to try to pull people into the fold of “lovers of classic literature” but Masque wasn’t one of the Poe stories that I read in my youth, and it is hard for many reader to get into the story because it lacks characters…Prospero is the only named character in the story. I’ve read and loved Post-apocalyptic literature for years. Last year I bought myself a hardcover of The Road by Cormac McCarthy for my birthday! But until I re-read Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death two summers ago, I had never had a spark for a post-apocalyptic story that I felt was compelling or unique enough to write (or at least finish!). Two summers ago, I reread Poe’s story, and rewriting it just felt right to me on a number of levels. It felt both gothic and historical (two things I love) as well as relevant, and well, hopefully compelling.
Tune in tomorrow for part 2!