Interview: Clinton D. Harding
This interview is brought to you by The Our Monsters Chronicles Blog Tour for Bad Monsters by Clinton D. Harding. We’re the lovely blog stop today for the tour. So we asked author Clinton D. Harding all about his writing and The Our Monster Chronicles. Check out the interview below!
1. What inspired the idea for the Our Monsters Chronicles?
A: The inspirations for the Monster books are many and I was not aware of them at the time I conceived the idea for the novels. I grew up in the 80’s and early-90’s so I love the movies back then that had a group of plucky teenagers/children going on adventures, subverting the corrupt adults. “Goonies” and “E.T.” are some examples. Japanese anime/manga also inspired the series. Anime/manga has many series with tenacious youngsters with great powers who stand up against incredible odds but whose greatest strength comes from their hearts. I gravitate towards those stories.
2. Is there a set number of books in mind for the Our Monster Chronicles? If so, how many were you thinking?
A: I planned the series as five books. As I wrote “Bad Monsters” I thought I might have to truncate that series to four but once I planned and started writing the third book I found there was just as much story to write as I originally planned.
3. Would you ever consider making Our Monsters into a movie? Any casting ideas?
A: A movie would be nice. Seeing your ideas take flesh on the screen is probably every writer’s dream come true—aside from being published. I’m a big movie and TV fanatic too. Casting ideas… hmm… I would really like to see a younger cast of actors. I think J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8″—a film similar to those 80’s movies with the plucky younger characters fighting against the odds—was great because it had a cast of younger actors whose real ages were appropriate for their roles. They felt like teenagers.
4. Did you have a favorite scene in Our Monsters or Bad Monsters?
A: One of favorite scenes—as an action set piece—is in “Bad Monsters” when Jon and Bo are wrestling a large water-dragon-like-menace. You’re saying now, “water dragon?” Go read the book, it’s a trip. A lot of my other favorite scenes are those between Jon and a new character named Devonne. While Jon is always cracking wise and throwing wit at other people in the group, the interplay between him and Devonne is just so snarky but cute. Devonne trips up Jon, which is fun.
5. Do you have a favorite character in the Our Monsters Chronicles (human or monster)? Who is it and why?
A: That’s not fair! You’re asking me to pick a favorite from among my children! Well… since you pinned me down… Bo (a brawl hybrid and Jon Grave’s companion) is my favorite. Bo is King Kong and the Hulk rolled together. He has a heart of gold, is the most innocent of the characters, so trusting, and will fight for his friends and for anyone who needs his help—even those who try to kick him down, or Trick who plays pranks on him constantly. Plus, it’s fun to write a character who can in seconds grow from being the size of a small bear to a behemoth and who then runs at you on a pair of hooves like a charging bull. Wait! Turn around and that same character is small again, sitting down, rocking back and forth on his butt and playing with those same charge hooves while hooting and grinning with so much intelligence.
My runner-up favorite is Alice. She’s a very complex character that I got to play with in “Bad Monsters”. Broken characters like Alice who need putting back together are always fun to write, they sometimes have the most depth too.
6. Is there a message in your new novel (Bad Monsters) that you want readers to grasp?
A: The first novel in the series, “Our Monsters”, focused on the strength of friendship. It was about how sticking by your friends and working together can overcome most obstacles. Most important was the idea of surrogate families. “Bad Monsters” challenges the ideas the human characters initially clung to as they liberated the hybrids and went on the run from the military. Life gets hard in the sequel. Allies are injured, left near death. Jon and friends find there are very few places to run to or hide. They realize they have no plan. At some point, everyone wants to throw in the towel. They eventually figure out that leaning on each other is the only way to survive, that an allying with unexpected groups.
7. What is your favorite part of your writing process?
A: Seeing the story come together is a joy. I never know when something I outline will work on the page. There are always scenes I never plan that make into the story, those end up being some of the best writing.
8. What do you do about writer’s block?
A: Sometimes the best idea comes when you put away the computer and do something else for a while. Going for a drive or running helps loosen the creative nuts and bolts. Other times I simply stare at the screen until the first line comes, then I’ll re-write that line or that first paragraph until something sticks.
9. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: This is my first sequel, or at least the first I’m showing the world. Writing “Our Monsters” was easy. Teenagers go on fieldtrip to where their parents work, which happens to be a military base, the fieldtrip itself used by the military to say to the world there’s nothing to hide here, we even let our kids in to see what’s going on. Teenagers discover innocent monsters bred as weapons. They free the monsters. They stand up to parents/adults. Escape oppression. Go on the run. End. Simple.
Now what? Sitting down to figure out the what was the hard part of writing “Bad Monsters”. Although I had the initial idea, I still went through several outlines to find the write beats in the story. I had to show readers something different from the first book, move the story toward the penultimate conclusion I have in my notes. What I wanted for the novel was to keep the story interesting, introduce new challenges for the teenagers and hybrids to overcome, but expand on the initial themes of friendship and family. Finding out how those goals fit together was my challenge.
10. What books have influenced your life most?
A: When I was growing up I was not a reader. In fact, I struggled with reading up until junior high school (or middle school if you prefer). My interest in reading started when my dad gave me a copy of Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger”, the first book in his Dark Tower series. It was an awaking for me. There were no orcs, elves, or a-typical fantasy characters or themes for that matter. The Dark Tower series was a western Lord of the Rings, reach with strange and horrifying lore. I fell in love. I knew then I wanted to tell my own stories. It’s years later now, I remember “The Gunslinger” and when I do I try to step outside the bounds of the typical tropes found in fantasy.
11. Any advice for any of the aspiring writers out there?
A: My advice is the same everyone hears and that’s because it’s good counsel. Read and write as much as possible. Write what you want to write and not what the market seems to say you should write. Know what your goals are, be it getting a contract with a large publishing house or self-publishing. Lastly, never give up because that tenacity is what weeds out the flock.
12. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: I hope readers love the novel. It was a labor of love. These characters are dear to me and I feel I’m growing with them, learning with them. Hopefully readers see the growth but also the fun.
“Bad Monsters” Synopsis: Blood is spilled, friendly and not, and now Jon must answer his friends’ questions sooner than later, or risk one of those friends dying. He’s just not sure he’s the person to be deciding their fates or if he, Alice, and George are fully prepared to walk away from their normal lives.
A farm in northern California may serve as salvation to this scared, but brave, group of teenagers. However, can they trust the inhabitants they find there, who themselves have a history with Carpenter? If Jon can talk his way past the shotgun in his face, he might just discover what he and his friends need; answers about the history of Carpenter, the hybrids, the powers the teens borrow from their hybrids and who are the true monsters. In all this confusion and danger, Jon may also find a young woman who can help heal the wounds left by Mikaila when she left him and the group.
About the Author: When Clinton D. Harding is not busy wrestling and taming wild Scottish Terriers in the wilderness of Oxnard, California, he’s using a magic pen he pulled from a stone to craft new worlds filled with fantastic beasts and evils that need fighting. He is also the author-publisher of The Our Monsters Chronicles, a YA series of novels that combines fantasy/sci-fi elements with horror chills. For more information about Harding and his creations visit his website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or become a fan at Goodreads.