10 Things You’re Too Scared To Ask Benjamin Epstein
Congratulations to Benjamin Epstein for having my favorite answers of the month. So, one lucky US resident will win a paperback copy of his book, Captive of the Orcs. Winner has 48 hours to respond by email with their US mailing address. I can’t be responsible for any item lost in the mail, however I’ll be shipping from Amazon.com so they’re pretty reliable. So, check out his awesome interview and then enter into the giveaway!
If you’re an author and interested in answering questions most reviewers are too scared to ask, then email me at lizzylessard (at) gmail (dot) com. If I think your answers are the best of the batch, then I’ll pay for a giveaway of your book. Even if you don’t win, if you’re willing to host a giveaway, I will post your answers. But you have to be CREATIVE. The questions change every month! Remember, there is NO GENRE RESTRICTION.
10 Things You’re Too Scared To Ask Benjamin Epstein
1) Imagine your characters are on Survivor. They have to vote one character out of your book. Who votes for who and why?
Dallet is voted off, no question about it. Everyone hates him anyway. He has no survival skills, so he’s useless around camp. He’s physically weak. And he’s too smart for his own good, which is irritating. Worst of all, he’s a Luminean Exile, and everybody hates the Luminean Exiles. He tries to make an alliance, but he’s voted out unanimously.
The next week, there’s a puzzle challenge. The tribe loses spectacularly. When Jeff Probst asks if they made a mistake voting off Dallet, they all look confused: It didn’t even occur to them.
2) Your main character has committed a crime. What is the crime and how do they do it?
I have two main characters, so…
If it’s Torak, the crime depends on the time of day. If it’s night, he silently slips over the shepherd’s fence, finds the sheep he think will make the best meal, snaps its neck, and hops the fence again, invisible and unseen in the dead of night.
If it’s daylight, he’ll commit armed robbery: the shepherd surrenders his sheep, or he gets skewered by Torak’s spear. His choice. In neither case does Torak feel any guilt over it.
Or maybe someone insults Torak by accident, or makes a crack about Boragh, the god of the Orcs. In this case, Torak either challenges the fool to a duel, or murders them outright. Unless the person is Dallet, in which case he just beats him with a stick for a while.
If Dallet was the one committing the crime, he would wait until he was starving to death, then he would rationalize stealing a loaf of bread from someone’s window sill. When caught (and he would be) he confesses immediately, and begs for the opportunity to work off the crime. He’s sent to the chain gang, wearing a number that says “24601″ and forced to sing music from Les Miserables.
3) You have to fight zombies. What is in your arsenal?
My copy of Max Brook’s book, “The Zombie Survival Guide.” I can swat zombie houseflies with it. As for weapons, I have my cheap sword from the costume store, and a plastic lightsaber.
Frankly, I don’t think I’d last very long. I don’t even have cyanide suicide pills. I’d probably be the snarky guy who says he can beat up zombies with his bare hands, and is the first one in the movie to get killed.
Oh, you mean in real life, not in a movie? I hide under the bed, sobbing over how I didn’t take advantage of the 2nd amendment when I had the chance.
4) Your main characters are stuck on a desert island. What are their initial reactions? Which one has the best chance of getting off the island alive?
Frightened of starvation, Dallet searches the island for Jeff Probst, trying to get food from the Survivor producers. Next, he tries to build a raft to return to civilization. The raft sinks.
Torak, on the other hand, has a marvelous time. He goes fishing, hunting, builds a shelter, and bosses Dallet around. Within a couple weeks, he has the start of what could be a pretty successful Orc village. He sees no reason to escape, except to find more Orcs to move into his village and honor him as their chieftain. And if short on food, he eats Dallet.
5) Write the most ‘rediculous’ death scene possible.
It was late one night. I was working on the sequel to my book. It is a hard task. I am not having a lot of success. I am banging my head against the wall, hoping that there was a way to get my ideas sparked.
And then I had a vision. A terrible phantasm manifested of my old High School English teacher, Mr. Bindner.
“What kind of weak writing do you contaminate the written page with?” he roared through the mists of memory. “I told you many times before not to use passive verbs!”
“Passive verbs?” I whimper. ”What on earth is a passive verb?”
“Is is!” he snarled. ”All the roots of the phrase ‘to be!’ Is, Was, Am, Are, Be, all of those passive verbs are unacceptable…. will not be accepted… you cannot use them! They suck away all life and vitality from your work, and you shall not pass my class if you continue to employ them!”
“Well, forget it buddy!” I yelled back at the emanation. ”I am a published author now! My book is sold for real money on Amazon! I was in your class, but I can no longer be bullied by you! And now you have no power over me. Ha! Let’s change that: You are powerless!”
Laughing maniacally, I resumed my work, shouting each forbidden word in defiance of the wraith of dynamic writing. “It WAS late one night! I AM banging my head against the wall!”
But little did I know the folly of mocking the wizards of lively writing and proper grammer. I should have known when this very question misspelled the word “ridiculous.” The ghost of old Bindner reached through the thin veil separating the physical world from the realm of spirits. My heart froze to ice, and I expired before I could strike the next keystroke. Alas, poor me. I knew me well.
6) Reveal the darkest moment in your life.
At the age of 9, I was in a car wreck that changed life forever. My grandmother was killed. My brother was in a coma, and suffered head injuries that affect him to this day. As for me, I was wide awake in the back seat, conscious of every moment from skid to stop, with each second burned into my memory.
When I returned to school, my classmates showed their sympathy for my family’s tragic event by bullying me without mercy. I escaped into books and fantasy worlds for quite some time. Perhaps to this day.
Years later, I felt an odd identification when Luna Lovegood told Harry Potter than the reasons they were different was that they both witnessed death. She seemed to attract her own share of children’s “compassion” to traumatized classmates. They called her weird.
7) One of your favorite authors agrees to go on a date. Who is it and how do you woe him/her?
As tempted as I would be to meet Ayn Rand and pick her brain, at the end of the day I would pick J.K. Rowling, but only if I could bring my wife. She’s a huge Harry Potter fan, and would have a wonderful time. Best of all, she wouldn’t kill me at the end of the night for dating other writers.
8) Pick a popular book with an ending you didn’t like. What’s the new ending?
The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, of course. How about Huck slaps Tom Sawyer silly for making it so unnecessarily difficult to rescue Jim? Pull out Tom Sawyer’s share of the treasure they found in the last book, buy Jim from Miss Watson, and set him free! Or was that too simple for Tom Sawyer? Or Mark Twain?
9) You are a misunderstood monster (like Shrek). Briefly write about what your life is like.
I’d be a dragon who lives inside a cave, and sleeps on a mattress stuffed with cheap, imitation silver coins. I’d keep two gold candlesticks, and a cracked quartz bracelet as my only valuables. When that annoying knight show up to kill me and steal my treasure, I tell him that all my money is tied up in investments. What use is keeping my gold out of circulation, where I cannot accumulate interest? There’s scarcely a king, duke, or prince in the land who I don’t have an investment account with. Usually that’s enough for them to leave me alone. Except when their loan grows too large for them to manage, and they send knights to my cave to murder me.
Oh, the knight wants to know, why did I burn down that nearby farming village, which killed a community of harmless peasants? Well, it wasn’t really my idea. But the sad truth is, I lost 95% of my net worth when the housing market crashed. My finances became so strained I actually had to get a job. So the evil wizard hired me on a mercenary contract to burn down one of the local principalities. He wanted to instill terror to advance his conquest, and he needed a few hundred bodies for his zombie army. As for me, I saw it not just as a profitable contract, but also as a way to plunge the property values so I could buy some more real estate cheap. I’m sure the price will go up once the peasants rebuild. And there is a state of war between the King and the Evil Wizard anyhow. Since I was working as a mercenary, I cannot be held liable for the deaths of enemy combatants. Yes, the peasants were combatants! They were withholding resources that the Evil Wizard needed for his army! Namely, their own bodies…
So why does this knight want to murder me so badly? I’m just trying to make a living here! He’s trespassing in my cave anyway. I should call the king’s guard myself.
10) Name one culturally “taboo” thing you wish would be accepted.
Not watching television. You know how many times someone describes in intimate detail their favorite scene from “Seinfeld” or some modestly famous competitor from American Idol? And when I say I don’t watch TV, they look at me like I’m an alien from another planet?
And the same goes for sports! Why should I be made to feel like an ignoramus if I don’t know who’s playing in the Superbowl, or I wonder when the New York Giants moved away from San Francisco?
Not to mention popular movies! Do I have to feel small if I was the last person to see the Blair Witch Project, or Titanic, or Kill Bill? I had things to do that weekend!
Or music! So what if I just got around to listening to 99 red balloons last week?
Sometimes it feels like the only people who don’t make fun of my cultural ignorance is the Amish. Until they told me that my horse and buggy was just so last century.
Safety question – What character in your book do you wish you could switch places with?
It seems I got all ten, but I’ll answer this one anyway as an encore.
I choose to switch places with the elven merchant, Artaen Stardreamer. Now you might ask: why would I elect to switch places with such a minor character? The answer is… he doesn’t have to go through the nine levels of hell that the other characters must deal with. One thing is certain about Captive of the Orcs: I did not write this book out of envy for any of my characters. They have a tough journey.
Captive of the Orcs by Benjamin Epstein
Publisher: Center One Publishing
Released November 13th, 2012
Dallet departed on a long journey, leaving behind his family, home, and his love. He planned to travel to the City of Brass Gates, and enter the priesthood of the Divine, the deity of the Luminean Exiles.
Torak was a young Orc, raised to pursue honor and victory. His tribe captured a trading caravan, and Torak enslaves a fleeing Luminean Exile.
Human and Orc, slave and master, bound by fate, must now adventure across the face of Codytha. One seeks revenge, the other freedom. And each is an enigma to his companion.