I’ve been asked this question in one form or another by so many people since ROP first came out. Regardless of whether they read the book or not, whether they liked the book or not, it seems that a lot of folks want to know what caused me to start writing, OR, what caused me to write the Monster Squad series in particular.
Truth be told, I’ve enjoyed writing since childhood. I think my love of writing grew hand in hand along with my love of reading. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to be a good writer without being a good reader, and the more varied your appetites in reading, the more your mind can grow. Again, this is just opinion. But, how did I come about dreaming up the idea for the Monster Squad? Well, that’s a story in itself.
I was lucky enough to marry above myself. I married a very intelligent woman who loves to read. She goes through books faster than most people change their socks. She used to read a lot of historical romance and eventually switched to the whole vampire/werewolf/zombie genres. Well, one night as we’re laying in bed, she’s reading and she giggles about some goofy thing that she read and I asked her, “Whatcha giggling at? Can I giggle, too?”
She gives me a strange look and shakes her head, “It would take too long to explain. It’s something in my book.””So tell me…”
So she gives me the whole backstory and explains what was funny. I didn’t think it was funny. In fact, I simply stared at her, one brow raised questioningly. “I don’t get it.”
“What? It was funny.”
“No, I don’t get why the girl even CARES if the vampire loves her! She should break the leg off the coffee table and ram it up his ass!” I practically yelled.
She stares at me impatiently and her face puckers. “That would make for a pretty short story, dontcha think?”
“I don’t care! He’s a MONSTER! She should drive a stake into his heart, not worry about if she’s a good kisser!” I’m about to hyperventilate now.
“Really?” There’s that tone.
“Yes, really! They should have a team of Navy SEALs or Marine Force Recon or freakin commandos out there hunting these forkers down! They. Are. Monsters.” I’m practically jumping up and down in the bed by now, and at my age and weight class, that’s not a pretty sight…
“Really.” That tone again. Her face unpuckers and a smirk starts to form. I should have known then, but I really thought I was on a roll, so I pressed on.
“Yes, REALLY! The only ‘hunters’ that I know of is on Supernatural! Two emo brothers with serious daddy issues that spend more time fighting each other than they do the buggars and all they do is drive around in a POS Chevy and whine! Somebody needs to write a story where they recruit the best of the best to hunt these monsters down so that when mommy’s and daddy’s tuck their little kiddies into bed at night and promise that there’s nothing under the bed, they can actually mean it!”
“So why don’t YOU write it?”
I stood there a bit with my mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Then I heard a voice that sounded a lot like my own say something totally STOOPID, “Well, maybe I will!”
For the next three weeks, all I heard from her was, “How is my story coming along?”
To which I would reply, “What story?” Playing stupid is hard to do when you’re constantly being reminded of your stupidity. You see, way back when she was going through romance novels like I go through Cheezy Poofs, I tried my hand at pounding out one of these icky, sticky, nasty novels. I even went so far as to PRINT IT OUT FOR HER. She never read it. It eventually got lost and I swore I’d never ‘write’ again. BUT, after a few more weeks of her asking, I finally sat down at my computer and pounded out what would eventually become the first chapter of Return of the Phoenix. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you this part. It almost never went any further. You see, after that first chapter, I walked away. Just like I did from about 75 other projects that I’d started and never finished. But, about nine months later, I’m going through my computer, deleting old files and run across a Word document. ‘My Story’? I open it and read it again. “Hmm. This has promise.” And so it was that almost a year later, I went back to work on it.
Now, honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I laughed just then because, to be COMPLETELY truthful, I STILL don’t! BUT, as I looked at the automatic word count and noted that I was somewhere around 80K words, I got to wondering…how long IS a novel?? Google is my friend!
Holy wow…Harry Potter was only 72K words? Oops. Most ‘novels’ are around 60? Is this right? Okay. Umm, Honey? Your book is probably going to be a trilogy.
She was happy. And so it began. I made the mistake of letting her read the VERY rough draft of Phoenix. And she loved it. I made it as easy as I could. I found MobiPocket and put it on her Kindle. She burned through it and kept waiting for the next installment. Two books turned into three, turned into four.
Then she convinced me that I really needed to PUBLISH this rats nest.
Do WHAT? Publish? Oh, now wait just a cotton picking…I don’t know the first thing…it isn’t good enough to…who do I??
I had no clue.
Well, once again, my beautiful wife to the rescue. She had been reading Mark Tufo’s books for some time now and had on more than one occasion told me how much he reminded her of me. So I read his books. I saw a slight resemblance to his Talbot character. The snarky comments. The love of bulldogs. Ex-military. But…anyway, she had emailed him to just tell him how much she enjoyed his writing and doggone if he didn’t write back. So she suggested that I write him and see if he might have some suggestions.
Would you believe he wrote back? He suggested that instead of writing that maybe I try something a bit easier, like maybe astrophysics, but since I really wanted to see it through, he told me what NOT to do (he learned the hard way) and he suggested what I should do. He wouldn’t come right out and say, ‘do this, then do this, then do this, and you should be set’. He don’t operate that way. But he made awesome suggestions and the best one was, ‘GET AN EDITOR’. Then he introduced me to my editor, TW Brown. And Todd introduced me to Denise (my publisher) and the rest…is history.
Now, I will say this to anybody who has read this far (I know I’m long winded and God bless you for staying with me for this long), I have been truly BLESSED every step of the way. It was either pure dumb luck or divine guidance that Jess told me to email Mark. And it was either pure dumb luck or divine guidance that Mark was gracious enough to take me under his wing and answer the MULTITUDE of stupid questions I bombarded him with. And it was either pure dumb luck or divine guidance that he hooked me up with Todd and Denise, who thankfully have the patience of JOB to put up with me. And it was either pure dumb luck or divine guidance that Mark’s wife Tracy…you know what? I don’t believe in dumb luck. Or coincidences. But I DO believe in divine guidance.
Maybe I’m wrong.
But I don’t think so.