Sean Benham, author of ‘Blope’, was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for us. He talks about the themes in his book, what inspires him, and more. Without further ado, here’s Sean!
1) Authors or otherwise, who (or what) would you call your biggest influences as a writer?
My earliest influences would be the works of Roald Dahl, John Bellairs and the writers and illustrators of Mad Magazine. All of whom share a love of the bizarre and a streak of joyful insolence. (Well, maybe Bellairs wasn’t all that insolent, but his books were full of ghosts, monsters and a baseball playing robot – I’ll take those over attitude most any day).
These days, I turn to non-fiction for inspiration. The natural world fascinates me, from the microscopic to the intergalactic. Nature documentaries, National Geographic magazine, the written work of Carl Sagan – they’ve all served as inspiration for story ideas.
In terms of the actual ‘art’ of writing, that is to say, picking words and putting them in order, I consider myself to be self taught, a true original. (Sorry, I couldn’t describe myself as ‘a true original’ without a rejoinder – I’m not all that original, nor am I a pompous knob who would use a term like that without wearing a big sarcastic grin).
2) Blope’s protagonist, Billy Lopez, is the son of Satan and grandson of the Messiah. In what ways would you say you’re similar – and different – from him?
Billy Lopez was forced into introversion. I, uh, chose to be introverted? That doesn’t seem right, but, well, here we are! I’m a quiet, unassuming guy by nature, generally not out to make waves. I’m also just about as white as they come.
The differences… well, there are lots of those! To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have an exciting lineage or any supernatural powers. Billy’s a track star, I’m slow as hell. Billy isn’t big on amassing knowledge, I tend to absorb information like a sponge. Billy hides under thick layers of make-up to try and blend in, I hide under thick layers of makeup to feel pretty. Wait! No! Don’t print that!
3) Was there any sort of research process while you were writing Blope, or is everything purely a figment of your imagination?
Almost everything is a figment of my imagination, but I had to keep some things grounded in reality. I researched Southwestern flora and fauna and a variety of assorted geographical elements, things like ‘what do they mine in Vietnam?’ and ‘where’s Taipei in relation to the rest of Taiwan?’
More than research, a lot of basic arithmetic went into Blope. Times, distances, speeds – I calculated them all to make sure they jive with one another. When I get down to writing, the fun just doesn’t quit!
I also had to look into the line of Popes to make sure I wasn’t picking a Pope name that was taken. In hindsight (and with subsequent wikipedia checking), I think I may have blown that one… Have a good laugh at my expense papal scholars, you’ve earned it.
4) What are you reading / writing / watching / loving right now?
I just started reading Loose Balls, by Terry Pluto. It’s the story of the failed experiment that was the American Basketball Association back in the late 60s / early 70s. So far, so good – I really enjoy reading about things that are both completely foreign to me and at once instantly understandable. That, and the aesthetics of the 1970s really speak to me. Three tone brown? Yes, please!
As for what I am watching, I’m in a holding pattern until the new seasons of Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire start up again. They’re my favorite shows on TV hands down. I recently realized that I don’t care about any TV shows unless they’re about animals, planets or the drug trade.
5) What’s next for Sean Benham? And will we be seeing the disturbed world of Blope again in another book…a sequel perhaps?
I’m currently developing a horror screenplay with director Rouzbeh Heydari. It’s slated to go into production in late 2013. I can’t say too much about it at this point, but I’m bringing my trademark weirdness to this project as well. It’s shaping up to be awesome. And that’s me being humble.
Also, you haven’t seen the last of the world of Blope. Billy Lopez will return in ‘Billy Lopez, Bastard Son’. The sequel treatment is written and fully fleshed out. Now, it’s just a matter of sitting down and writing another novel… Anybody have a couple thousand hours I can borrow? I’ll pay you back, I swear.
Thanks Sean! Curious about the book or the man behind it? Read on!
Son of Satan and Grandson of the Messiah, Billy Lopez was born with a sordid lineage, an ancestry that has been veiled since birth. Now, he’s a wanted man, forced into a harrowing world of extreme plastic surgery, black market pornography and organized religion gone horribly awry. BLOPE is the classic ‘Coming of Age’ story turned on its ear and shoved to the ground.
About the Author:
Sean Benham is a Toronto-based entertainment industry professional who has worked as an art director, graphic animator, writer and producer on everything from Emmy award-winning children’s television programming to heavy metal music videos.