Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An Interview with Pierce Brown

As his new graphic novel, Sons of Ares, hits bookshelves, the acclaimed author of the Red Rising trilogy discusses his expanding dystopian universe.  ♦ 
I recently had the chance to review the Red Rising trilogy of novels—Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star—by New York Times-bestselling author Pierce Brown, and like many other readers, I was floored by the incredible writing and the exciting twists and turns of the story. Published between 2014 and 2016, the trilogy has met with wild critical and fan acclaim for its originality and fresh voice, and in the next year, Brown will be publishing two new works set in the same universe: the graphic novel Sons of Ares, a prequel to Red Rising which hits shelves on May 10th, and Iron Gold, a sequel to the series with an expected release of January 2018.
   Being a fan of Brown's work and excited to see the world of the trilogy expanded upon in the forthcoming books, I got in touch with Mr. Brown, hoping to pick his brain about the future of Red Rising, and I was ecstatic to receive a reply.
   In the following interview, Brown discusses his ambitions for the series going forward as well as topics including representation and writing minority characters, the influence of the social sciences (and his mother) on his work, and choosing the best dog names.

Throughout Red Rising there are a lot of strong characters from traditionally underrepresented groups, like women and LGBTQ members, who are shown in new and refreshing ways. Was this something you did intentionally, or was this just a natural development in your writing?

There’s that old saying: you write what you know. This generation has been the boldest and most progressive in recognizing the inalienable rights that belong to all of us. Combine that with the fact that I’ve lived in nine states, went to around twelve schools, and I’ve had friends all over the spectrum, and it’s only natural that my writing is influenced by the people I’ve met along the way.
   As for women—my mother was one of the first, if not the first, General Manager of a TV station in the country. She had those badass 80s powersuits with the padded shoulders. She’s a powerhouse. And if my female characters are lacking, I’ll damn sure hear about it.

Your books have received a huge response from readers in the annual Goodreads awards and impressive showings in Unbound Worlds Cage Matches (Go Ragnar!). Why do you think your books have gotten such a strong response?

There’s a sense of community around these books. A feeling of being in on the secret. It gives people who may not otherwise be friends a way to speak the same common language. Also, I think the books offer a damn good adventure—and those are always the sorts of books I'm drawn to.

What can readers expect out of the upcoming Iron Gold series and Sons of Ares graphic novel?

Size and scope. Iron Gold expands the Red Rising world to huge proportions. Instead of just Darrow, we will have four POV characters whose stories will weave in and out of one another’s as the Rising struggles to hold onto to the reins of power. Sons of Ares explores the origins of the Sons of Ares, as well as how their founder came to be the man he was.

In college you studied political science and economics. How did that translate into becoming a writer? With such political content, do you think your studies influenced your writing at all?

Both of those disciplines are considered social sciences—that is, the study of people and how they interact. Both heavily influence how I portray interactions in Red Rising. I draw specifically on Locke, Hobbes, Aristotle, Plato, Napoleon, and Nietsche.

What was the hardest part of the trilogy for you to write? Conversely, what was your favorite part or scene to write?

The beginning of book three. Without giving anything away, it was difficult because of the change that Darrow had undergone. Favorite scene was probably the duel with Cassius at the gala. My honor has been pissed upon and I demand satisfaction!!

Any news on the Red Rising movie in development?

No news as of yet. It is a very thorough, slow process.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t be too self-critical. Understand that your writing is going to be shit at first. Then you’ll get better. And better. And you’ll relapse. But you’ll keep writing, and then one day you’ll have a finished book and realize it's perhaps not so shit after all.

As a self-proclaimed nerd, do you have a current nerd obsession?

I’m neck-deep in re-reading Harry Potter.

And finally, out of all the badass characters in your books, why did you name your dog Eo?

Because she was lost on the streets, dirty, red, without a home, and had the sweetest little manners. Easy choice.
Pierce Brown's Sons of Ares, the prequel to Red Rising, is available today at fine comic book stores everywhere.
  • About the Author
    Megan Mooney is currently a junior at Miami University majoring in Creative Writing. She loves reading books and drinking coffee. She also loves hanging out with friends who are steaming hot and wrapped in a portable to-go cup. No, wait, that’s just more coffee. She doesn’t have a problem.

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