Over the holiday break, I was very lucky to get my hands on an advanced copy of Christopher Locke’s debut novel, Persimmon Takes On Humanity. A harrowing tale of a heroic raccoon who goes on a quest to save animals from human exploitation, Persimmon takes readers on an extremely emotional ride.
I sat down with the author to ask him a few questions about his book. During the interview he told me he’s been so inspired by MFA’s work, he’s donating 10 percent of the proceeds to us! Check out our interview below and get a copy of Persimmon here. It’s an excellent read!
1. What inspired you to write Persimmon Takes On Humanity—the first book in The Enlightenment Adventures?
Writing has been my passion since I was a little kid, so the moment I went vegan my dream was to create a story that would inspire people to treat other animals more compassionately. Since the mistreatment of animals can be a heavy subject, I knew the key to writing an effective story was that it had to be a thrilling adventure that was a real page-turner. Persimmon Takes On Humanity has all the compelling elements of an epic tale (excitement, heroic characters fighting against insurmountable odds, heartbreaking drama, and much more). And as readers are enjoying the characters’ journey, they’re also being exposed to an important mix of animal issues.
2. What impact do you hope the book has on readers?
First off, I hope readers are thoroughly entertained. But on a deeper level, for people that currently eat or wear animals, I hope the book reawakens their compassion. From a very early age, most people are taught so many fallacies about what humans’ relationship to other species should be, but when people read the book they’re going to find themselves rooting for the team to rescue the critters from the horrid conditions in places like factory farms. And it’s in that moment that I hope readers have an epiphany: “Wait, these are the same animals I eat. Once they’ve had that revelation, I hope they’ll be inspired to make kinder choices in the future.
As for people that are already animal advocates, they’re going to love the book because they’ll see themselves in these courageous characters, and they’ll get a chance to live vicariously through the team as they valiantly conduct their rescue missions. Of course, the missions are perilous and unpredictable, so that’s where the nail-biting thrills and drama come into play.
3. Some of the most vivid and emotional sections of the book are those that give readers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of animals in factory farms, fur farms, and circuses. Why did you choose to cover these particular animal issues and what research was involved in writing about them?
I chose to highlight the animals on factory farms, on fur farms, and in circuses because they’re some of the most egregious environments for animal abuse. It was imperative that I depicted life for the animals entrenched in these industries accurately, since this book is in part an educational tool, so I researched extensively for months. For example, to prepare for the factory farming section, I watched Mercy For Animals’ groundbreaking undercover investigations, such as the E6 Cattle Co. and Buckeye Veal Farm videos, which helped me capture the terror and mental anguish of battered animals yearning for freedom.
4. You don’t hold back in describing the brutality animals face at the hands of humans who work in factory farms, fur farms, and circuses. Why did you think this was important to show?
I wrote the story as an exciting adventure and tried not to make it too dark, but I also felt I owed it to the animals suffering in these facilities to truthfully show what they really endure. Life for these animals is pure agony every day and my heart aches for them. I want my audience to feel so sickened by the cruelty and moved by the characters fighting for their lives that readers yell, “We have to get them out of there! That’s when I’ll know I did my job properly.
5. Persimmon’s team is a colorful group of characters. Do you have a favorite?
I admire Persimmon’s bravery and leadership skills, but I have a soft spot for her sweet, loyal opossum best friend, Derpoke. There’s also a character readers will meet a third of the way through the book who is so cunning and haunted by his tragic past, his whole storyline was fascinating to create.
6. What inspired you to go vegan?
In 2004, I read Fast Food Nation and the sections describing animal abuse on factory farms shook me to the core. I have always considered myself a proponent of progressive issues, so once I learned how much animals suffered before their body parts ended up on someone’s plate, how could I continue to eat them? Soon after, I learned about the cruel treatment of animals in other industries and chose to become vegan, which was easily the most significant and rewarding decision I have ever made.
My great wish is that Persimmon Takes On Humanity can have the same positive impact that Fast Food Nation had on me, as well as the same impact that Mercy For Animals’ admirable work has on countless other people’s (and animals’) lives. Then, not only will I have accomplished my dream of being a published author, but I’ll also have helped make the world a kinder place for all the critters out there who deserve so much more than the lives they’re leading now.