Prepare to Meet Benjamin Percy


This week, instead of writing your answer to the 13 questions, I would like you to come up with a question to ask Ben Percy when he joins our Zoom meeting. It's fine to ask him general writing questions, or about his journey as a writer, but also please try to ask him specific questions about "Refresh, Refresh," so we can interact with him AND the story he wrote.

Please visit his website and read through some of his interviews, to get a better sense of who he is and the kind of work he does. (What's great about Ben Percy is that he's really a jack-of-all-trades as a writer. He does a little bit of everything!)

Come to class ready to ask that question to him yourself (and post it in the comments below, so I can refer to it, as well).


  1. If you had written this story "Refresh, Refresh" today would it be similar or different to what it is now? (Small follow up question) Is there anything you would change about it now looking back on it today?

  2. What inspired you to write "Refresh, Refresh"

  3. Did any of the characters or concepts come from yourself or someone you know?


  4. One of the things that I think makes "Refresh, Refresh" so resonant is the ending, and that sense of the narratives surrounding wars in the Middle East breeding cyclical violence back home. How do you work with cyclicality without having it feel too on the nose?

  5. How do you handle working with different writing mediums like comics and scripts, and then switching back to novels? Is there a stark difference in the way you write them?

  6. Some of your interview’s mention that one of the premises of “Refresh, Refresh” was to explore the idea of the masculine identity. Some authors say that when you delve into incredibly deep topics like this it can be hard to step away. What tips would you give writers trying the same; both for writing topics like these and stepping back from them?

  7. In one of your interview, you mention that horror fiction functions as a way to safely appeal to our base desires and experience something primal. While "Refresh, Refresh" isn't horror, I did notice a primal violence and anger apparent in the story and characters. Do you think that is what is important in all literature, to find some primal urge to help the reader explore?

  8. Were there any novels or other material that contributed to your process of writing "Refresh, Refresh?"
    - Sam

  9. It's no secret that your imagination hosts a wild spectrum of material, and you're equally no stranger to teaching. Given years of experience, what helps you clear your mind when coming across a dead end of creativity?

    In "Refresh, Refresh", Gordon and Josh reflect their resentment with such realistic portrayal that it's hard to believe they are fictional characters. This level of immersion that I felt is hard for me to capture, and sometimes I wonder if I ever can. Do you find there's a written difference between someone who has captured the essence of another person's experiences versus the experiences you've felt yourself?


  10. In "Refresh, Refresh" there seems to be a gradual shift with Gordon and Josh throughout the whole story. So seamless, that it is hardly noticeable--yet we began with two boys, and ended with two men. How did you approach this aspect of the narrative? Was it easy to write, or did it take more effort than expected?

    Also, how did you come up for the name "Refresh, Refresh"?

    - Elizabeth S.

  11. Did you have to interview anyone you were marines at that time for inspiration for "Refresh,Refresh"?
    -Michael L.


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