Friday, December 14, 2012

#BIR2012: MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin - Guest Post & Giveaway

Welcome to day five of Best I've Read 2012!

Be sure to check the Best I've Read blog to see our top author picks for today: RIFT and BLOODROSE by Andrea Cremer & OSIDIAN, ONYX and PURE by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

I've chosen MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin as my last (but definitely NOT least!) BIR2012 pick. She was kind of enough to provide a guest post for this feature, but first, here's a little about the book: 

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin
Released: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow

Find Bethany Online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

From Goodreads: 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 around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . 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 is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

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

***Guest Post***

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. This is the last line of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. And when I sign my books I usually write, Darkness, Decay, and the Red Death…enjoy!

Today I’m writing about one of my favorite subjects. Plagues. Wait…that didn’t sound quite sane…Let me start over. Today I’m writing about one of my favorite subjects fictional plagues. Although…my first experience reading about plague was actually the Black Death, which was very very real. But when you read about it in a history book, it doesn’t seem like it could’ve been real. That’s why it’s so incredibly fascinating.

In high school history class I really enjoyed reading about the middle ages—you had the pageantry of the aristocracy—chivalry and all that (never mind that they were all covered by fleas) and then you had the peasants whose lives were so bleak…they ate the same food every day, couldn’t read, never travelled… it was a time of torture and superstition. Cathedrals and castles. Like a world ravaged by plague, it’s fun to read about but I certainly wouldn’t want to live there!

One of my favorite books dealing with the Black Death is the Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s a story (in a nutshell) about a historian who is sent back to the middle ages, but to the wrong year, to the height of the plague. The result is haunting…an amazing story.

I’m sure some of that sensibility seeped its way into Masque, at least a little bit. My absolute favorite Plague related book is The Stand by Stephen King. But after thinking about the book (I need to re-read this one very soon!) The superflu is the impetus for everything, but once the story gets moving, it fades into the background.
In Masque of the Red Death, the illness pervades everything. It’s all about the fear of death, and the fear of illness. How people treat each other, their interactions, fashion, and just their mode of life, have all been drastically changed.

And of course, the plague had huge impact on my characters. One of the ways I think about the characters is how the contagion affected their outlooks on life. Elliott has to be extremely arrogant to think that he can change the world. Will is just trying to get by, but with dignity and decency. Araby is reacting to the world after the shock of her brother’s death by trying to numb herself, and April is taking advantage of the freedom afforded her by the new world.

While I didn’t do extensive research into a specific plague, and while I’m extremely squeamish about actual symptoms, the plague holds the story of Masque of the Red Death together. The theme of Poe’s story is that you can’t hide from death. My story begins with the corpse collectors scouring the city for dead bodies, and Dance of the Red Death will culminate in a version of Poe’s iconic masquerade ball. And the theme of no one being able to escape from death, from the plague, from the Red Death is definitely part of my stories.


Thanks to HarperTeen, we (the collective BIR gang) are giving away several Harper prize packs. Open to U.S. mailing addresses. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

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