Welcome to the first of the Furry Book Month Q&As – we’ll be running plenty of these over the next month, from a range of different people with different experiences within furry writing.
First up, we have author Ben Goodridge.
Tell us a little bit about your most recent project (written or published). Was there a particular inspiration for it?
I came up with “Akela” when I was seventeen. At the time, he was a response to Eastman and Laird’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which was itself a parody of Frank Miller and “Daredevil” comics. The novel itself, I wrote over six weeks in the summer of 2016, and there’s a lot in there about making a space for yourself when the status quo sees you as a threat.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom? Why write furry fiction?
Putting big pointy ears and a long fluffy tail on a character gives you a whole new world of body language to work with. They can react to a room differently, through scent and sound and noticing small details. A writer can explore themes of alienation and difference in a whole new way. My anthropomorphic characters aren’t interested in being more like humans, they’re interested in relating to humans in their own way. That’s my favorite thing about the fandom, as well, is how it creates its own space. It can be simultaneously inviting and exclusive.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline and plot, or are you a “pantser”?
Usually I’ll write the first five to ten pages, enough to introduce the characters and setting and get the ball rolling. I’m the first person I have to sell my idea to, so I have to convince myself that the idea is going to work. If I’m still enthusiastic, great. Press on. If that’s as much as I get, that’s fine, too. The idea can go into a drawer until I think of a way to rekindle that enthusiasm. I’ve got bundles of these little firestarters within easy reach, and every once in a while I’ll take one out, give it a read, think, “Hey, this is pretty good. But what if…” and start working on it again.
What do you consider your biggest strength as a writer?
Probably just taking it seriously, but not too seriously. Getting published means keeping your eye on publishing, but writing doesn’t have to be grueling.
What is your favourite kind of story to write? Does it align well with what you like to read?
Comedies are both my favorite kind of story to write, and the hardest kind of writing to do. It’s one of those styles where either everything works or nothing does.
Which character of yours do you most identify with, and why?
I almost hate to say Akela, because he’s literally the opposite of me in every way – he even lives on the other side of the planet. But I’ve had him around for a long time, and I’ve gotten a lot of work out of him.
Which authors or specific books have most influenced your work?
Douglas Adams was a big early influence, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide is the zenith of Western literature in my eyes…but he’s a terrible writing teacher. Isaac Asimov’s doorstop autobiography was a big boost. But it was Eastman and Laird who introduced me not just to anthropomorphics, but to the whole indie comics scene in the 1990s, which was a wild place to explore.
What is the last book you read that you really love?
I just re-read the Foundation trilogy. Hits different in 2021 than in 1993. Asimov was genuinely concerned about fools replacing progress with dogma, and he’d have a bird if he could see America in 2021.
Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Video games. I just got done with “Spiritfarer.” I also spend a lot of time hiking in the woods, when I can find the energy.
Do you have any advice to give other writers?
It may seem cliche, but “don’t give up” has worked for me. It’s a big world. You have an audience somewhere, you just have to find it.
Is there anything you would like to see more of within furry fiction?
Not really. I think anthropomorphics is trending in a very positive direction right now, with all kinds of new opportunities available for creatives. Like I said, I just got done playing “Spiritfarer,” which was this incredibly unique anthropomorphic experience. I plan to stick around long enough to see what’s being done with anthropomorphics in the future.
We would like to thank Ben for his time in answering these questions, and we hope you’ve learned a little more about his processes and his works. We encourage you to check out his books at the links given if you have not already done so.
Tomorrow, we have some words from one of the many publishers within the furry writing community.