Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inteview With Ben Thompson, Founder of Badass of the Week

Pundit Press is proud to present interview number five in our ongoing series. Today we are taking a little more lighthearted track and interviewing Ben Thompson, the founder and editor of Badass of the Week. He is also the author of a book by the same name. So check out the site and pick up the book and go through the dozens of awesome individuals that have shaped our history and legends.

1. When and why did you start Badass of the Week?

I wrote my first Badass of the Week article back in April 2004, and haven't missed a week since then. The site originally started as kind of a joke – I was ridiculously bored at my desk job, so I started putting these articles together as something fun to send out to my friends for a laugh. If you'd told me six and a half years ago that I'd be turning it into a book I probably would have laughed you out of my cubicle.

2. Why did you decide to write a book?

What I wanted to do with the book was to find a way to tell some of the awesome stories from history without making them boring. It's unbelievable how some teachers and books out there can take these incredible people and make their stories sound so mind-numbingly dull that you'd rather jam pointy metal objects in your eyes than hear about them. My hope is that I can tell the action movie version of these badass peoples' lives – making it funny and exciting without sacrificing historical accuracy. Just because history is important doesn't mean it has to be boring!

3. You must be asked this a lot, but who is the badassest of the badasses?

There are so many head-crushingly hardcore badasses out there that I have a really hard time narrowing the list down to just one or two. Ultimately the book is a top-40 of some of my most favorite historical face-crushing heroes and heroines, but, to be totally honest with you, I could write a hundred books this size and still not hit everyone I want to talk about.

4. Have there been subjects that you particularly like to write about?

I have a difficult time immersing myself in one particular time period or corner of the globe for an extended period of time, and I really enjoy being able to jump around and cover many different subjects. It keeps the material fresh and exciting in my head, which (I hope) translates into the writing.

That's the great thing about history – there are so many incredible stories out there that one week I can be talking about a samurai warrior disemboweling his enemies on the battlefield, the next week I'm reading stories about World War II tank commanders plowing their way through the hedgerows of Normandy, and the week after that I've got pirates firing broadsides at Spanish treasure ships and swinging around on ropes. It never gets old.

5. Why did you decide to include both fictional and non-fictional badasses?

While my real passion lies in history, it's also really entertaining to change gears every once in a while and talk about some insane fictional character like Odysseus or Darth Vader. There are just a ton of completely ridiculous myths and legends out there, and sometimes it's great to be able to just let loose and have some fun with these fantastical, over-the-top tales. I often find that the funniest articles are the ones where I’m talking about some fifty-foot dinosaur demolishing Tokyo with nuclear fire-breath and swinging subway cars around like nunchucks.

6. What is the best part about running your site?

I really love what I'm doing. At the risk of sounding trite, however, if I had to pick one thing I think I'd say it would be all of the incredible support I get from fans and readers. Few things make me happier than opening an email from a fan suggesting the story of some new, incredible badass I'd never heard of before. I learn something new every day, which is an amazing feeling.

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