It is our pleasure today to have John rose, author and creator of The MonsterGrrls Series. He is promoting the first book in the series, Out From The Shadows.
How old are you?
43 years old; 44 come May of this year.
Where do you currently live?
I live in Greenwood, MS, in a small house with a book collection that is approaching fire hazard status, an enormous amount of DVDs, a very intelligent cat named Igor and a brain in a tank named Alfred.
Tell us a little bit about your life.
I was born in Meridian, MS, about 10 miles from town in a woodsy area that had to be found by anyone wishing to visit. While it was not bad, I saw the flaw in this fairly quickly, and began to work on getting out. I still maintain that the major thrust of human society is not to get back to nature but to get as far away from it as possible.
When did you first start writing?
In school, we often had to write short one-page stories using the list of spelling words we were given that week. Occasionally, my stories were criticized by my teachers for being a little too out there, imagination-wise. I don't know what the hell they were complaining about since they said I had to use all the damn words.
What was your very first story about?
I don't really remember. I do remember that I had a real jones for L. Frank Baum after seeing The Wizard of Oz, so it may have been something along those lines--a story about some other world.
Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
I occasionally write very boisterous erotica. No one has ever read any of it except me.
Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
None of my major characters in The MonsterGrrls have a driver's license, which is something I did experience; for some weird reason, no one would help me get my license. One of my college friends finally helped me get it at age 25. However, my characters won't have to wait that long.
Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
I was inspired to write by reading things like Mark Twain and Madeleine L'Engle, and later on Stephen King and Terry Pratchett. I realized that someone had to make books, and I thought that would be a good job. But I read just about anything. I'm reading John Connolly's The Infernals right now; it's great.
What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I got the usual standard high school experience, and did two years at a community college and three years at a university. I believe that all of that was beneficial to me, but I remember a lot of my teachers being unimpressed with my taste in authors or my desire to write science fiction, fantasy and horror. They thought I should aim to be William Faulkner, since he is the most famous Mississippi author. But I hated Faulkner because he never could just tell a straight story; instead he constantly went off on tangents. which made the book a chore to follow. If I learned anything from Faulkner, he kind of instilled in me the practice of being willing to edit myself.
How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
A lot of what I do comes from amassed head knowledge and reference. I was the child who would get interested in something and check out half a dozen books on it out of the library in the hopes that one of them would tell me what I wanted to know. The Internet has been very useful, and I often draw pictures of my characters to try to get at what I'm seeing in my head.
Who is your most favorite literary character?
It's a three-way tie between Huckleberry Finn, Meg Murry from A Wrinkle In Time and Sam Vimes from Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
I'm partial to Frankie Franken, my Creature-Grrl. She's got not only a heavy dose of the Universal Monsters in her DNA, but I also went straight to the source:Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The Creature in that novel is not anything like the portrayals of Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester, even though those are iconic. The Creature is an intelligent, thoughtful, philosophical being; everything the movies aren't.
If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
It could be called Ed Asner, because I just like that name. Realistically, it would be called And Now, Him. The movie version of this would feature Ham Fong as Chin Ho, despite the fact that there has been no one in my life named Ham Fong or Chin Ho. But there should have been.
Tell us about your featured book.
Out From The Shadows is the first book in the MonsterGrrls series. It begins the saga of four teenage girls who are monsterkind, or members of the overall species of monsters--Frankie, a Creature (or Frankenstein monster), Bethany (a vampire), Punkin (a witch) and Harriet (a werewolf). The Grrls come from their world to go to school with humans, and the story describes how they meet and make human friends and deal with high school and bullies. They are challenged to spend a night in a "haunted" house, and discover that something is there that doesn't like monsters...
Why did you write that?
All of my teachers told me constantly to "write what you know." I know about high school, I know that being a teenager is sometimes far from ideal, and having been a lifelong fantasy/horror/sci-fi fan, I know monsters. The fact that my teachers were expecting something that didn't combine these things has nothing to do with it.
Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
It is perfectly okay to be different--not good, not bad, but okay. And there is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and what you believe in, and what you know is right. And there is certainly nothing wrong with being weird. Some people make satisfying and fulfilling use of it, such as writing books about friendly monsters.
What’s a negative trait about other people that you most notice, or that bothers you the most?
Do you ever notice it in yourself?
Sometimes I do. I often react badly, swiftly, and violently to whatever is causing it.
Do you own any kind of art collection?
I have a large collection of comics, animated cartoons on DVD, and several ToxicToons prints by Eric Pigors, who is a noted horror artist and former Disney animator. I also love movie posters--any kind of strong graphic images really resonate with me. And I love the work of Vincent Van Gogh.
What is the hardest thing about growing up?
Realizing that you are not experienced enough to be sophisticated in the way that you wish you were, and that there unfortunately must be a period of awkward and stupid in young love.
What is the biggest lie you’ve ever heard?
"This is going to be easy."
What is something you absolutely must have in your kitchen?
A good chef's knife, a stockpot and an iron skillet.
What is your dream house?
A huge Victorian Addams-Family-style house.
Where would you want this house located in our wide world?
On a high hill overlooking a quiet suburban area that occasionally cowered in fear at the strange noises and weird lights coming from the top of the hill on full moon nights...
You’ve been forced under various circumstances to choose a personal motto. What is it?
Constant and true.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Would you have it again?
Fried calamari. In a second.
What’s the first thing you would do if you could become invisible?
It would involve an extremely high caliber of vengeance.
What is the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you?
Listening to me and encouraging me as I work with these four Grrls and the world(s) in my head. Other than that, feeding me usually goes a long way.
Our thanks to John for answering our questions. His work is available in paperback and ebook format, so give it a look today.