Janice Gable Bashman has become a force to be reckoned with. When I met her ten years ago she was a student in the writing classes I was teaching at the Writers Room in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Janice always had more energy, focus, and enthusiasm about writing than any ten other people. And, damn…she could write, too. (Not always a given among those folks who have a desire to publish).
She’s come a long, long way since then, dividing her writing output between nonfiction and fiction. She’s written for the NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WRITER’S DIGEST, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and is co-author of the Bram Stoker Award® nominated book, WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (co-written with me for Citadel Press 2010). Janice is the editor of THE BIG THRILL, and is a popular speaker and workshop leader at writers’ and genre conferences including ThrillerFest, Backspace, Pennwriters, The Write Stuff, Stoker weekend, and others. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology. She is a member of the Liars Club and is a coordinator for the Writers Coffeehouse (more on those later in the interview).
And now she’s a novelist, with a superb first Young Adult thriller that has some serious teeth.
What’s the lowdown on PREDATOR? Without giving away any spoilers, tell us about the book.
Sixteen-year-old Bree Sunderland must inject herself with an untested version of her father’s gene therapy to become a werewolf in order to stop a corrupt group of mercenaries from creating a team of unstoppable lycanthrope soldiers.
When Bree went with her scientist father to Ireland, she thought it would be a vacation to study bog bodies. She never expected to fall in love with a mysterious young Irishman and certainly never expected to become the kind of monster her father said only existed in nightmares. Dr. Sunderland discovers that lycanthropy was not a supernatural curse but rather a genetic mutation. When they return home, her dad continues his research, but the military wants to turn that research into a bio weapons program and rogue soldiers want to steal the research to turn themselves into unstoppable killing machines.
Bree’s boyfriend Liam surprises her with a visit to the United States, but there are darker surprises in store for both of them. As evil forces hunt those she loves, Bree must become an even more dangerous hunter to save them all.
PREDATOR gives the werewolf legend a couple of new spins by introducing the Benandanti (an actual folkloric belief that certain families of Italy and Livonia were werewolves who fought against evil), as well as a modern scientific approach to mutation and the science of transgenics
Is this a standalone or the first of a series?
PREDATOR is a stand-alone novel, but can easily spin out into a series of YA novels.
While researching werewolves for WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, I discovered there was a race of werewolves called the Benandanti. I had never heard of the Benandanti before then and found the mythology fascinating. So I decided to take the mythology and give it a new and modern twist.
Speaking of the Benandanti, who are they and how are they different from the standard lupine monsters scene in Hollywood movies?
Werewolves have a long history in mythology, lore, and pop culture. They are strong and powerful creatures with the ability to shapeshift. The common view is that the werewolf is a beast unable to think. This is often how werewolves are portrayed in Hollywood movies. However, the Benandanti are a race of werewolves unlike other werewolves. Instead of murdering animals and humans the Benandanti fight against evil. These strong and powerful creatures are loyal and intelligent and kill only if absolutely necessary as a means of defense.
You did quite a bit of research for PREDATOR. Talk about that.
I interviewed a world-famous geneticist to help me figure out how to create werewolves using modern-day science and how it can go horribly wrong. I interviewed a bioanthropologist for help with the anthropological aspects of the book. I also interviewed an automotive expert (don’t want to give anything away in explaining why) and several people who live (or have lived) in Ireland to ensure I used the language and lingo correct (film vs. movie, etc.). I researched bogs and bog bodies and many other topics via the Internet and by reading books.
This is a horror novel for teens. What scares you, and what scared you when you were a teen? How has that changed?
I’d say PREDATOR is a mix of thriller, suspense, and horror. As far as what scares me: I’m a bit gun shy when it comes to heights (although I wasn’t always this way). I can’t stand on a high balcony or the edge of a mountain top without feeling my heart beating against my chest. Oddly, I have no problem hot air ballooning or para-sailing or flying in a plane. When I was a teen the thing that scared me most was not fitting in. I know that’s a typical teen fear and one many experience, but it didn’t help much to know that when I was going through it. Once I reached college, however, that fear went away. I found so many people with similar interests.
When conceiving this story, what made you choose to write it for a YA audience rather than adults?
Writing for a YA audience wasn’t a conscious decision. I had the plot and the characters for PREDATOR. The main character, Bree Sunderland, is a teenager and the point of view character, so the book fell into the YA genre. I love writing and reading in this genre. It’s a lot of fun.
You’re a member of the Liars Club. Who and what are they?
The Liars Club is a group of professional writers who work to support independent booksellers, libraries and literature (and each other). Liar’s Club members are: Jonathan Maberry, Gregory Frost, Kathryn Craft, Marie Lamba, Kelly Simmons, Jon McGoran, Dennis Tafoya, Merry Deedee Jones, Solomon Jones, Don Lafferty, Keith Strunk, Keith DeCandido, Chuck Wendig, Karen E. Quinones Miller, Elizabeth Mosier, Stephen Susco, and, as you mentioned, me.
You help run the monthly Writers Coffeehouse. What is it and why is it important to the community of writers?
The Writers Coffeehouse is a free meeting for writers, whether they are New York Times bestselling authors, haven’t yet published anything, or are somewhere in between. We talk about what’s happening in the publishing industry and help each other with tips and advice to navigate the profession. We typically have anywhere from 40 to 80 attendees each month. It’s a place to learn what’s going in the biz and to meet and socialize with other writers. We’ve definitely formed a great community, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Dreamcasting time. If they make a movie of PREDATOR, who should play the main characters?
My protagonist Bree Sunderland—Shailene Woodley dominated in her leading role as Tris in the film DIVERGENT. Her character was both tough and sensitive. She’s perfect to play Bree.
Bree’s boyfriend Liam––Logan Lerman portrayed an endearing and sensitive Charlie in THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER and the heroPercy Jackson in PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS. Logan is Liam for sure since he’s able to portray a strong yet caring character. (Liam is into science, he coaches kids, and he’s caring. But he’s tough and strong too.)
Isabella—Isabella is a leader who prefers to work behind the scenes. She’s strong, responsible, and one kick-ass woman when forced to take action. Angelina Jolie is incredible when it comes to portraying a strong woman.
Dr. Sunderland (Bree’s scientist dad)—I’d cast Sam Trammell as Dr. Sunderland. Sam can easily play super smart and caring, traits that define Dr. Sunderland. Bree’s dad is a driven and determined man. His work consumes a lot of his life but for good reason. And he cares for others but doesn’t always know to show it.
You have a strong female lead in PREDATOR. What is it about girl power that makes for such compelling reading?
I love a strong female protagonist, someone who stands up for her beliefs no matter what the consequences and is willing to do whatever necessary to protect those she loves. Bree embodies these characteristics. But she’s not only strong. She’s smart, intuitive, and curious. She’s really into science, but she is also a typical teen who falls in love and experiences all the emotions that go along with it. Yet she is also caring and kind. The combination of these characteristic make for a compelling read.
What’s next for you?
I just wrapped up a middle grade novel that my agent is shopping now, and I’m working on another young adult novel.
Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker nominated author of PREDATOR, a young adult novel (Month9Books 2014), and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (with NEW YORK TIMES bestseller Jonathan Maberry) (Citadel Press 2010). She is editor of THE BIG THRILL (International Thriller Writers’ magazine). Her short fiction has been published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.
To learn more about Janice, please visit her website.