Friday, October 5, 2012

All Hallow's Read: The Return

October blue sky, pumpkin spice, fire-drenched leaves,
Harvest moon,
A soft scratching at your front door,
Wind moaning...
Or is it someone (perhaps something) else?
It can only mean one thing.
It's All Hallow's Read season!

Of course, now would be a good time to promote my books, which, as it happens, are perfect (or is that horrible?) for the Halloween season.  But instead, I thought I'd talk a little about what inspired the series. (Which is a clever way to sell a product without actually appearing like I'm selling it.  You know, the whole "I'll appeal to your sense of comradery while secretly I'm here to promote my stuff" method.)

Anyhoo, I've read a lot of comments that suggest Eve's story is similar to the The Munsters.  Maybe some of you are too young to recognize the reference, but it was an old television show, which featured a family of monsters living among us normal folk--except for the niece, Marilyn.  She was human. She never made much sense to me.

In part, Eve's story was my answer to The Munsters.  After I decided that my main character would be human and live with a family of monsters, I made it a point to explain some of the things that bothered me about The Munsters--namely, how did a human girl come to live with monsters? And why did a monster family move to the human world in the first place?  (Translation: You see, I'm a serious writer, and serious writers analyze what's wrong with other bodies of work and make them better.  Serious like.
From there, the story became its own, and that's about as far as The Munsters reference goes.

A more significant influence on Eve was Ray Bradbury's short story The Homecoming.  If you haven't read it, there's an excellent edition with artwork by Dave McKean.  The story is about a young boy, Timothy, who is raised by a loving family of monsters.  He doesn't fit in, though.  He's not like the rest of his family.  It is a sad story, full of beautiful metaphors.  It has gotten better the older I get. (Notice how I connect my story to Bradbury's in order to make myself sound like a serious writer?  Brilliant!)  

Some people have mentioned that Eve Hallows is similar to Neil Gaiman's Newberry Award-winning The Graveyard Book.  It's one of my favorite comments, because it has a strange sort of meaning to me.  Gaiman's is a story about a young boy, Nobody Owens, who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts--well, mostly ghosts.  

No book has ever terrified me more. (Wait for it...)  When I'd finished the first draft of Book of Shrieks, I learned that Neil Gaiman had written a book about a boy raised by ghosts.  Of course, my first reaction was to raise my fists and curse Mr. Gaiman's name.  My second reaction was to avoid The Graveyard Book like a loud noise coming from a creepy basement.  I did eventually read the story, just to see what familiar ground we covered, and much to my happiness, I discovered the stories weren't all that similar, though if you've read and enjoyed The Graveyard Book, you just might like Eve (Bam!), though mine is a quirkier tale, and there's the little fact that I'm no Neil Gaiman.  (Trials and tribulations.  It's not all roses and back-pattings for this author!  I have to climb mountains, just like you!)

If asked for an elevator pitch, I usually say Eve is a cross between The Jungle Book and The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Neither inspired the story.  Mostly, it's an easy answer.  (Also, per my comments above, i.e., my immeasurable cleverness, both stories are meant to make Eve sound better than it really is.) Both are classic stories almost everyone knows, though I suspect in the case of The Jungle Book, more people are familiar with the Disney version than Kipling's original.  Whatever.  It's the fish-out-of-water aspect I'm conveying, mixed with monsters and Halloween.  I usually get understanding nods, so I guess it's a good enough answer.  (Though now that I'm thinking about it, they might be sympathetic nods ... Hmm.)
But the biggest influence on Eve, (and this is the part where I water the flower of humility, so you'll open yer hearts and wallets) more than any book or movie or television show, was and remains my daughter.  When she was little, she loved, loved, loved the movie Monsters, Inc.  It is no exaggeration when I say she watched that movie 200 times.  I watched it with her at least half of those times.  I haven't seen the movie in about eight years, and I can still quote lines from it.  When she asked me to write her a story, the first thing I thought of was the two of us watching Monsters, Inc. together.  The rest followed.

(Now, buy Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks and Eve Hallows and the Book of Shadows.  Do it for your country.  For your freedom.  For Halloween!  My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty...)  


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