Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Tour!! Interview with Ben Burrell: Author of Red Leaves and the Living Token

We have a special guest here on the Diaries today! Ben Burrell is the author of Red Leaves and the Living Token - an absolutely fabulous new fantasy book. Before we go diving into the interview though, here is the synopsis of the book!

Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won't survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he's confronted by Moslin, his son's nurse, who's been filling Emret's head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse's stories, and he'll live.

In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.

Now, he has to dig into the loathed fairytales to figure out where they may have gone. He'd also like to know why he keeps blacking out and having visions of a temple on a mountain with a vat of glowing weapons, a vaporous black creature emerging from a lightning storm, himself in glowing armor leading an army, and the same mythical Red Tree hidden in a dense forest.

Sound interesting? You can pick yourself up a copy of the book from!

Now, onto the questions!

I understand that Red Leaves in the Living Token was originally written as a screenplay. What made you decide to transform one of your screenplays into a novel? How did you go about adapting it?

I'd actually written previous drafts of the story as scripts. As the story developed it got longer and more involved. About half way through the final draft I realized it was no longer going to work as a screenplay. It was looking like the final page count would be in the mid 200s. For an animated feature 90 pages is where it needed to be. So I had to decide to cut out a lot of the story or expand it into a Novel. I chose the latter even though the Novel format was new to me. I'm glad I did. I loved the Novel format. I enjoyed it so much I'm planning on adapting my backlog of scripts. To me the process is like taking an abbreviated story and adding in all the extra scenes and even subplots that never would've fit in the tight confines of the script. 

One of the biggest limitations for the scripts I'd been writing was the budget. If the story was ever going to have any chance at being produced it had to be cheap to make. Big budget hollywood blockbusters are seldom if ever spec scripts. They're typically written for hire. Unfortunately for me, almost all the stories I'd been drafting would be very expensive to make. With Novels the budget restraint is removed and the story can be what ever it wants to be. I'm very excited about this.

Where did your inspiration for the three races - the Zo, the Petra, and the Botan - originate from? 

I actually got the root of the story from a strange dream I had about a decade or so ago. I saw this little glowing plant in a forest surrounded by a dense thicket of thorns. There were these warthog looking people standing guard around it. Then these green plant looking people charged out of the forest and attacked the guards in an attempt to steal the little glowing plant. There was another part of the dream that ended up being the core of the climax of the film. The strange thing is I had very clear visual images of the warthog looking Zo. When I worked on the Cover image it was simply a matter of capturing the image.

Were there any characters you particularly enjoyed writing? Any that you struggled with?

I had a hard time writing Raj. I knew that I wanted him to make some bad choices. Dramatically, that's interesting. But its hard to take a character you like and make him into something that isn't so pleasant. But I wanted to have him makes some serious mistakes and then earn his redemption. I really identify with those themes, mistakes, humility and redemption. Its like the prodigal's son, he goes out into the world, behaves in the worst possible way, has a close dance with destruction that causes him to be thoroughly humbled, then picks himself up and has a second chance at life. I love that. I think we all go through that to a limited extent. 

If you could be any of the three races in your book what would you choose and why?

As I setup the structure of the world and how the three races would relate and interact with each other, I made them each one part of a greater whole. Individually they each have physical weaknesses that are offset by the other races. I wanted the greater whole to be something every reader would be able to relate to. So they each have limitations that we don't have. I plan on exploring this idea a lot more in the next book. To answer your question, I'm very happy to be human.

That's all for me today but be sure to stop by the other stops on the tour!