Author Interview: Ben Berman Ghan

I’m pumped to have Ben Berman Ghan drop by and answer some questions about his debut novel, Wychman Road! 

FB_IMG_1426542795110Ben Berman Ghan is a Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer, novelist, and student at the University of Toronto where he studies literature and English.

Wychman Road is his first novel, and the first book in his series The Wychmen Saga for Zharmae Publishing Press. When not writing, Ben is being distracted by cats, snow, and what he suspects to be aliens camping out nearby. His mind currently holds over half a century’s trivia on comic books, and he finds writing about himself in the third person very strange.


 

You’ve worked on Wychman Road for a long time, right? How many iterations has it gone through? How has it evolved over time? 
Yes! Oh man, yes. I started working on the very first draft of Wychman Road right at the end of 2011. I finally had a finished version of the rough draft a year and a half later in 2013, and I was only 17 at the time. It went through a lot of changes.
One of the biggest was amendments to the timeline. Originally Joshua Jones was born in 1915 and got his powers in the midsts of the great depression. But I set it back to 1899. Joshua was also initially to act like a recovering drug addict, but I dropped that as well. Also, Christopher Patera [the main antagonist] once dressed like a flamboyant sixties gangster, but sadly it had to go as the darker, far more serious villain took his place. Nothing about the original Christopher survived from the first draft to the printed page.
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Was the friendship between Joshua and Peter always the core focus, or did that crystallize as you honed in on a final draft?
Yes! My intention was always making this book about the friendship between these two characters. This is a kind of love story, in that it isn’t a love story. I also wanted to write a friendship between two male characters where they are allowed to love each other. No ulterior motive, no manipulation or masculine sensitivity. They just love each other. I think, whatever else, I, at least, achieved the relationship I wanted.
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I was fascinated by the glimpses we got of Thought Walker society–the truces, the arcane relationships.  Where did these ideas come from?

Thought Walker society is a marriage between Mafia movies and vampire lore. Immortality, infection, can’t enter other’s property, mixed with that strange, almost violent loyalty and structure. I have this idea that if I dive too much into the realm and politics of The Thought Walkers, it won’t be any fun (Hearing about Jedi in the originals was great, being always surrounded by them in the prequels was boring).
That being said, I am going to dig slowly into it! The mythology of Christopher and his siblings will slowly begin to affect the story more and more until the series reaches its climax. There will be six books in total; the Families will become more of a presence with each addition.
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What’s coming in the sequel?
I think they’re a couple of ways to describe book 2. One part is very much Joshua vs. Christopher. But the second book also serves as the origin story of Allison Kair, where she came from and what happened to her and Joshua so long ago that affected them so drastically.
Additionally, now that Clair knows what’s going on around her, she will be far more active in the second book. We learn a bit more about her, and she kind of sets herself up as Joshua’s moral opponent. A part of this story is the abuse of power. Honestly, a huge part of where my idea came from was watching the original X-Men movies, and being horrified at how okay everyone was with professor X erasing people’s memories. So the Ethics of the Thought Walkers abilities is going to be a part of the sequel in a big way
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What is your favorite thing about Wychman Road–a favorite thing to write, or character, or scene–and why?
My favorite scenes to write are always Peter and Joshua sitting on the porch of Wychman Road just talking. It’s always just a joy to write those scenes. Even though these stories are dark and full of violence and madness, they still sit down and just talk. I’m also strangely proud of a scene about halfway through the book, where Joshua realizes he’s forgotten how to hold a pen. Whenever I go over that it just breaks my heart; I just really liked it as an illustration of this person who’s so lost and so removed from the world he wants to be in he has to remember how to write his name again.
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What are you working on right now? What should readers look for from you next?
Of course, more of the Wychman Saga! book 2 is called The Army of Stone, and it should be out in the early spring of 2017. On my computer right now, I’m very close to finishing the 4th book! Outside that, there is something new that I’m working on, something far more bizarre and loopy, and full of spacemen and aliens and not a villain in sight. But I think that’s all I can say about it right now.
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How can readers stay in the loop and get news about your projects and releases?
There are a couple ways to reach me. I have a facebook page at facebook.com/wychmen & twitter @wychwords.  
I’m always happy to chat or answer questions, I’ve also got a blog at wychwords.wordpress.com where I announce stuff and share articles I’ve written for other sites.
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Anything else you want us to know? Shout-outs? Words of wisdom?
From what I’ve seen, the greatest enemy of someone who wants to write but can’t is embarrassment. don’t be embarrassed by your ideas or your writing. someone out there is going to like it.

Here’s my review of Wychman Road, if you missed it. It’s a great read, and I’m really looking forward to the next installment of the Wychmen Saga! Also, Ben’s twitter is excellent. 

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