Monday, October 27, 2014

The Fall by Bethany Griffin: Guest Post + Giveaway

Today I'm honored to host a guest post by one my favorite authors, Bethany Griffin.  One of the things that I mentioned in my recent review of The Fall was how she cleverly kept the heart of Poe's story, The Fall of the House of Usher, but shifted the POV to Madeline to give us a first hand perspective on the madness setting in, the fear of the house, and the desperation to both appease it and escape it.  I asked her to tell us a bit more about her decision to put the focus on Madeline and what she wanted from her heroine!

Welcome Bethany Griffin!

Building Madeline’s Character

I’d guess that all writers build characters in slightly different (or perhaps vastly different) ways, and we sometimes build them differently from story to story. I think that I generally come up with some of the plot first, and then as the plot develops, the characters, particularly the main characters, take form, and from that point character and plot develop organically together…

In the case of Madeline Usher, we have a character from a story by Edgar Allan Poe, whose only purpose (within her brother’s story) is to create horror and show us the suffering and madness of Roderick Usher. She is mute, and without her own sense of purpose (within Poe’s story) but she isn’t a completely blank slate.

There are three things I knew about Madeline from the beginning.
1. She is a twin/has a twin
2. She lives in a creepy mansion
3. She has catatonic fits

But who is Madeline? What does she want and dream of? As I develop a character, I always ask myself questions about her, and the most important question is always: What makes this character get up in the morning? This is what separates characters from real people in my mind. Many people don’t have a reason for getting up in the morning (real people can be annoyingly random), but characters must have a reason. They should be driven, particularly my female characters (who are always trapped in some way). But they can’t just be trying to escape from whatever is trapping them, they must also have a personality of their own.

So, in order to begin The Fall, I figured out what makes Madeline get up in the morning. (The hope that Roderick will return at first, the drive to bring down the house, later.) I determined what makes her happy (her garden). I determined what lengths she is willing to go to for her goals and to protect the people she loves. And more than anything, I determined how the person she might have been, the person she was meant to be, was warped by the three facts above, as well as by her isolation and the genetic predispositions of the Usher family.

What I ended up with was a determined, loving, impossibly brave young woman, who is terribly naïve, borderline insane, and in every possible way, a hero. She isn’t strong physically, in fact she is the very opposite, but she endures terrible hardship despite her physical weaknesses. She is clever despite being borderline mad. She is kind when no one has ever been kind to her, and she is hopeful when her world gives her no reason to feel even the slightest inkling of hope. As you can probably tell, I love Madeline, and I hope readers will, too!

 Thanks, Bethany! I love seeing how authors go about creating their characters!

 I have an extra ARC copy of The Fall that I'd love to pass into the hands of one lucky reader!
 Ends Nov. 10, 2014; US mailing addresses only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Ehe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is one of my favorite short stories. Psychologically creepy, I'd be interested in how that story could be reimagined for YA (if it could....).

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Ooohh... I'd also like to see the Yellow Wallpaper or the Tell Tale Heart :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. How about a re-telling of the spooky story Pumpkin Head!

  4. A favorite spooky story that I'd love to see as a YA retelling would be bloody Mary? Or the crying woman? I don't know...those were the scary I heard when I was a kid from my mom and other kids. And I definitely haven't read a story like that yet told from a YA perspective. And this was definitely a helpful way for me to learn how to build a character up. I've always had trouble with that and now Bethany shared her secret :) Thanks Becky! ^_^

  5. Courtney WhisenantOctober 28, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    I wonder what a YA version of Stephen King's Misery would look like ;)

  6. Christina R. in the rafflecopter

    Sleepy Hollow!!

    thank you so very much :)

  7. Eek, I love this guest post. <3 Thank you so so much for sharing Becky :D You are awesome. And sigh. I just loved this book so so much :) Madeline was awesome.

  8. Maybe Hansel & Gretel because trying to bake the kids is pretty spooky and creepy.

  9. Very good review, and - like you - I love how the POV has been written to Madeline! I'm currently about a third of the way thru The Fall, and am totally gobsmacked at how beautifully it is written! There's no doubt that Bethany is an amazingly talented author, and she has crafted a very atmospheric tale <3

  10. I loved this book. It was beautifully written. Spellbinding. I couldn't put it down.

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