Review Fix chats with author Bryce Bentley-Tales, who discusses the inspiration behind his new book, “The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane,” detailing its creation process, goals and more.
About the Book:
In their hometown in Ireland, thirteen-year-old Colton and his best friend Jade spend their free time investigating a local urban legend about an old abandoned house which seems to be genuinely haunted. At the same time, Colton has developed a crush on American foreign exchange student, Dylan, who is visiting his aunt. Turns out, Dylan isn’t your average American kid–he’s a werewolf. When Dylan’s aunt disappears through a portal inside the house Colton and Jade have been investigating, the three of them set out to save her from the magical realm on the other side of the doorway.
Review Fix: What inspired this book?
Bryce Bentley-Tales: Scary stories have always intrigued me since I was a young child. Scooby-Doo and the gang comes to mind in those days. On library day, while some kids were getting books on the fun facts on Greece or the inner governmental workings of the United States, I’d search for books on monsters. By my teens, I was engrossed in Stephen King’s novels along with the other popular horrors writers of that time, Clive Barker, John Saul, to name a few.
Fast forward several years later…
By the time I came to write THE WEREWOLF ON LOWRE FEW LANE, I had already self-published a few works on dark fantasy. But I wanted something that was geared towards YA and involved a haunted house. The story would have a suggestion of scariness but it’d be an adventure and it’d be about friendships. I wanted humor and some light chuckling.
And I wanted it to be fun read, meant for a large and diverse readership despite the fact it had two gay main characters. It’d be something that someone could read and they could laugh a bit, and then by the end, say, “I enjoyed that. I think I really did.”
Review Fix: What is the goal of the book?
Bentley-Tales: Even though the book’s genre is YA LGBT horror, as I mentioned, I write for a worldwide audience and that includes all sexual orientations, genders and ethnicity and so on. The story takes place in Ireland, because one, I’m part Irish so the culture has always intrigued me and second, I wanted to have an Asian-Irish character to merely show the diverse world we live in. I don’t speak much on Jade’s ethnicity, but I envisioned her to be a black youth.
Then I had two gay main characters, and here I wanted to twist the meaning of “coming out” just a bit. The normal connotation associated with coming out typically refers to someone coming out gay or transgender or some variant of those. In this book I wanted coming out to not be about being gay, but disclosing you’re a werewolf. I asked – How do you come out as a werewolf?
Then, how do people react to such a disclosure? How do they accept it?
But probably most importantly, I wanted the gay sexual orientation to be the non-issue piece here, where we just gloss over that point and it’s an accepted trait akin to a person’s eye color or skin color.
Review Fix: What was the research process like?
Bentley-Tales: I have ancestry to Irish, but I have only been to Scotland, where they have a distinct accent. I’ve met a few Irish people, and certainly seen enough movies to know the accent is recognizable and enjoyable to hear. The main research then was trying to find common Irish phrases that everyday youths might utter. My goal was make the Irish accent distinguishable versus being distractive. That research took lots of effort.
Review Fix: What was the writing process like?
Bentley-Tales: I typically get to a point where I’m not sure where I’m going next. This can be frustrating. I try an outline but sometimes veer off. In this case, I got to the school where they see wolves chasing a schoolmate and decided to insert a mysterious wolf.
I got a bit stuck on the magical portal. What exactly were these kids walking into? Would the aunt be on the other side? Would it be safe or full of danger?
I worked through a couple of scenarios before I found one I liked and it is where I discovered a token that had surfaced earlier in the book, actually had a link to magic and powers that each youth could use in this new world.
Review Fix: Have you learned anything unexpected?
Bentley-Tales: I wrote this originally, I believe, two years ago, and I’ve been comparing my writing that I do now with what I did then. On one hand, I’m learning the craft and my writing is much smoother now than it used to be. But I look back at this book, and the one thing I think this book reflects, is strong character building. It reminds me in any new work I create, that characters with a well define personalities who reflect a bit of humor are enjoyable and you want to follow them.
Review Fix: Why does Horror still matter?
Bentley-Tales: Being scared is one of the oldest and most primal thrills that a person can experience. Think about it! From a very young age, a lot of people love to be spooked. Babies love to be tossed in the air and older kids love riding rollercoasters, telling ghost stories around the campfire, or reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There’s a certain joy in the adrenaline rush of fear, especially when you know that the “danger” is only temporary, or that it was fictional all along. However, not all fears are temporary or fictional. Even if they’re not the kind of intense, supernatural horror experience that characterizes most ghost stories, the fears that populate everyday life are no less real.
For many people, the transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the most horrifying things they ever experience. It’s difficult to maintain a concrete grasp on your sense of self as you grow into a teenager and a young adult, especially when everything around you is changing, from your body to your mind to your relationships with your friends and family. YA horror is fun because it combines the thrill of a scary story with the real, universal struggle of growing up and finding yourself. Although ghost stories and urban legends might not seem like they have a lot in common with the teenage experience, there’s actually a lot of overlap between the two. YA horror lives and thrives within that overlap, giving both authors and readers a space to connect the imaginary fears that thrill us with the everyday fears that we all have to learn to live with.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy this book the most?
Bentley-Tales: I mentioned above, this book was written for a worldwide audience and though it is meant to be absorbed is a young adult readership, it is for any adults who enjoy such genre as well. The tale is for people of any sexual orientation or gender, and I feel like a heterosexual youth would benefit from reading this, by identifying with a model who is gay and ultimately, come to be that much more accepting towards sexual orientation.
Review Fix: How do you want this book to eventually be remembered?
Bentley-Tales: I think rather than focusing on how I want the book to be remembered, is what kind of author do I want to be remembered as. If nothing else, after writing other works, I’d want to be remembered as an author who kept one constant theme in each book – diversity. I want to be known for having a deep appreciation and respect to diversity, a term that represents a convoluted group of people of this world, and reminds us that diversity makes us stronger, not weaker.
As Colombia University Professor Katherine W. Phillips wrote in the Scientific American:
Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think. This is not just wishful thinking: it is the conclusion I draw from decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Bentley-Tales: I’m presently working on my YA LGBT Sci-Fi series. The first novel has the working title of Orion: The PreRoboman Era Boy. My nonfiction work, Queer Sense, is completed and ready for publication. This work presents how culture shapes our attitudes and beliefs and thereby influences how we identify our sexual and gender orientation. I’m also working on my Sci-Fi novel that I guess you could say I technically started years and years ago, but the main outline and story structure have been completed over the last year. The working title is Orion: The PreRobo Era Boy, and there’s a lot more work to be done.