SDCC 2016: Pierce Brown on ‘Red Rising’ Fandom and His New Comic Book



Author Pierce Brown has seen his profile among fans rise considerably over the last several years as word of mouth about his Red Rising science fiction trilogy has spread far and wide. In this short interview, we discuss his relationship with fandom, cosplay, and the inspiration he gains from his readers.

UNBOUND WORLDS: It’s been a while since our first interview so many years ago. Tell me about the trip it’s been between then and now?

PIERCE BROWN: From the first time where no one’s lining up for you and then now you have to cut off the line, it’s pretty powerful to see your fanbase grow. When you’re a writer, all you’re trying to do is to get something out of you: You’re trying to put the world that’s inside of you out into the world, so being able to share that with so many people and meeting the fans is an incredible experience. It’s also amazing because sometimes when I’m signing books I’ll get mugged from behind by other authors: I’ll get a wet willie from Scott Sigler, and it’s fun to have the camaraderie with other people.

UW: So what’s it like going from a fan to a peer?

PB: Kind of transformative! The first panel I was on I was sandwiched between (John) Scalzi and (Patrick) Rothfuss, and these guys are two people I idolized. I was terribly quiet the entire time because I had no idea what I would even say to add to the conversation. They’re giving stories about their first signings where no one showed up, and I’m saying “This is pretty much my first event!” and it was very strange to be this person who is really unknown and new to now where I have drinks with other authors. We exchange emails and correspondences, and I really respect their work. It’s the same camaraderie that you have in a friendship and it really grows and you have a lot of fun because you’re getting to expand the craft too, because the people who are going to Comic Con are the ones creating the next big fantasies. You look at Brandon Sanderson, you look at Rothfuss, you look at George R.R. Martin, who was in the earliest circuits of Comic Con, and it is really where the best fantasy and sci-fi is born. Being a peer now is the biggest honor that I can imagine, because I’m still a fan of these guys, I’m still like a kid, and I’m still freaking out when I sit down and have nachos with one of them. I’m like, you know, “Can we talk about starships?”

UW: I understand that you’ve got a few interesting projects to share with our readers.

PB: I think one of the benefits of the series being so successful and people embracing it like they have is that you get to explore the world even more, so we’re doing three more books in the series which are set 10 years after the conclusion, Morning Star, which came out earlier this year. The first book is called Iron Gold, and hopefully it will come out sometime next year. Also, we’re doing a comic book series from Dynamite Comics that I’m extremely excited about. It takes place before Darrow’s story begins. It’s about the founding of the Sons of Ares and how they began to destroy the society from within. The more I talk about it, the more I expand the world and the more real it becomes to me. It’s amazing because of some of the artistic adventures I’ve been able to go on with my friend Joel Phillips, who does the maps for the Red Rising books. We have been able to do several Kickstarters and he’s been able to really help expand and grow the world in the minds of the readers by making the maps and propaganda posters and other things available.

UW: Have you seen anyone cosplaying as your characters?

PB: I think the most cosplayed character is Eo at this point, one of the young protagonists in the beginning of the novels. She’s been cosplayed the most, but then you have a lot of Obsidians wearing black contacts and carrying spears. There’s been a lot of Golds, as well, but it’s been really fun to see this pick up and it startles me to them because it’s exactly the way that I imagine the costumes. Especially the Obsidians, with the black contact lenses. They’ll kind of startle me, because they’ll be in a signing line and I’ll be just done signing a book for a young kid and he walks away, and suddenly an Obsidian, a character from one of my novels, walks up in front of me in the white face paint and the war tattoos and it’s an incredible feeling.

UW: Do you feed off of that? Does one influence the other?

PB: When you see that sort of enthusiasm it opens up new avenues in my mind of how to approach subjects and it makes them more real for me. In making them more real, I’m more enthusiastic about my writing and I brainstorm more. I think that whenever you have the sort of enthusiasm as a writer you can share in it in a childlike way: to go on an adventure, get lost and wander. You’re able to escape this world for a bit, and that’s easier to do when people are with you on that adventure.