Tony Graff's new novel Juniper Crescent comes out this week. As a nurse I'm intrigued by the concept of curing MD. As a writer, I'm interested in how the storyline strays from popular shapeshifter fiction but maintains its fantastical elements. Here Tony talks about the idea behind Juniper Crescent.
Juniper Crescent is about a girl who finds a cure for a genetic disorder through an operation that replaces defective genes with those of a cheetah. While she relearns how to live a life free of Muscular Dystrophy, everyone else is making the choice between whether she has sold her humanity to be cured, or if she has received a gift people have dreamed of for centuries.
I fell in love with this idea while I was watching an animal show. The show would spotlight a skill, like jumping or speed, then proportionately show what a human could do if they had the skills of the animals they showcased. The whole idea seemed odd that a human could jump over buildings or run at highway speeds seemed unbalanced. It all connected when I found a study that said that habits and instincts are genetically based. I went back to the TV show and listed out the benefits that people wanted, but also the mental habits they would have to deal with. That combination of ideas had me in its jaws.
I started outlining this story with the intent to draw it into a graphic novel. I had everything together until it came to the facial sketches of the main character, Oksanya. I spent five hours trying to draw her the way I saw her, and couldn't succeed. In frustration, I wrote out everything I had done online. So many friends came and wanted more of the story. They expressed the same intrigue that I had felt, and they encouraged me to write it as a novel, rather than a comic medium.
Oksanya became a hero to me as the story was unfolded. While Juniper Crescent was being written, the news was filled with tragedies that had resulted from bullying. I felt I had to pay my tribute to the people who dealt with bullies and prejudice. Many people have to deal with this on a daily basis and I wanted to offer some kind of hope. The people who have this operation became a perfect palatte for me to bring up the issue. Some people have very personal reasons why they like a particular animal, and getting this operation forces them to wear it on their sleeve. But no matter the animal they chose, it makes them unique but also a target.
But, despite some of the serious themes, writing Juniper Crescent was a lot of fun. I got to learn so much about animals, and what started as a comic idea has become bigger than I could ever have imagined. Every time someone told me about their favorite animal, it excited me to see what the Isis operation could do. There are so many stories in this world just waiting to be told.
Tony Graff was born in Junction City, Kansas to the life of an army brat. Before settling in Colorado, he lived in Tennessee, Schweinfurt, Germany, Arizona, and Frankfurt, Germany. From a young age, he had a love of storytelling, expressed in drawings, poetry, short stories, weblogs, and a passion for reading. Along with writing, he enjoys travelling- this time he gets to choose where he goes.