Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Young Adult author Benjamin Gamble. Born and raised near Charleston, South Carolina, Benjamin Gamble always had a passion for writing. He has previously worked as a camp counselor and as a waiter, where he encountered monsters far more terrifying than the ones in this novel. He recently graduated from Furman University, and his plans going forward are to be happy. However, if that doesn’t work out, he’ll probably just go to graduate school.
When asked about his writing, he said, “I studied History and Spanish, and took all the creative writing classes I could on the side. I’m a sucker for a good love story and for a healthy dose of sarcasm, and I like to think Dragons Suck achieves both.”
Thanks for being here with us, Ben. Our first question for you is, Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!) I know it won’t be coming out until May 14th.
I’d like to think “wherever books are sold” but I know as a debut novel that may not be in the realm of this reality. It’s distributed by Simon & Schuster so it should not be terribly hard to find; But more importantly, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, and at Fiction Addiction (found here: http://www.fiction-addiction.com/si/9781682618578N.html)
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
We are still working on getting social media up and running, but until then, feel free to follow me personally on Instagram and Twitter @ benjamintgamble.
As for creepy ways, there’s some chest-high bushes across the street from my apartment.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Dragons Suck?
I would describe Dragons Suck as a classic, fairy-tale love story…and also the exact opposite of that. It’s how a “save-the-world, rescue-the-princess” adventure would go if the hero involved was a 21st century millennial – right down to the needless sarcasm and questionable work ethic. It’s a comedy that has a moment or two of being serious, and perhaps, once or twice, just even a little romantic.
What was the inspiration for Dragons Suck? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
Going off my previous answer, I think a big inspiration was looking around at all sorts of young adult novels and fantasy stories where The Chosen One is a fifteen year old kid who suddenly steps up and becomes this altruistic, self-sacrificial, courageous hero. I don’t know any fifteen year olds like that! Not to say there’s anything wrong with those stories – or more nobly-minded fifteen year olds – but when I was fifteen, I would’ve passed off Saving The World to some other sucker as soon as possible, or maybe done it just so it would look good on a college application. You never see teenage heroes trying to use their magic powers to get into nightclubs or pull off get-rich-quick schemes or anything like that. My friends in high school would’ve put Excalibur on eBay right after it came out of that lake, you know?
So, going off of that, bringing it from an idea to a story was a lot of fun. I knew the ending from the get-go, but wasn’t really sure how to take it there. To that end, I mostly just wrote, and operated off the principle that if I could have Harkness utterly fail at any given opportunity, it would make the story better.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
The answer is the same to both of those questions – Harkness, the main character and narrator. He is, like most teenagers (and myself at that age) trying his absolute hardest to show you how cool he is…but of course he wants to make it look like he’s not even trying. There are parts of Harkness I think are pretty loathsome – he’s manipulative, and self-serving. But I also think that he’s clever and is a good person deep down, even if he’s misguided. I think that’s more relatable than a squeaky-clean messiah of a main character, and more realistic. Nobody gets handed opportunities like that and handles them perfectly – although most people would probably manage them with more grace than Harkness.
(Also coming up with all the possible ways Aldric could misinterpret what was being told to him was a lot of fun).
Thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions, Ben!