Who decides what monsters will be in each book? Which scene was the most fun to write? What advice does he have for authors who are striving to be published? Charles Gilman, author of The Slither Sisters, answers these questions and others.
Are you the one who plans out which monster or monsters will be in each book?
Yes, and I always start with the title creature. My goal for this series is to offer kids a whole library of morphing monsters, so weíre making a conscious effort to keep all of them very different. And of course different creatures result in different kinds of stories.
About how long does it take you to complete each book?
They are short books, 25000 words, so I write them fairly quickly. I spend one month thinking about the book, and another 3-4 months of wall-to-wall writing and rewriting. I always go right up to the deadline, and I always wish I had an extra two weeks when itís time to turn in the manuscript.
Do you plan the entire book before writing it? Or do you just sit down and write?
Itís about half-and-half. I like to know where Iím going, though I donít always know how I will get there. One nice thing about writing a series of this nature is that many elements are set in stone: the characters, the voice, the point-of-view, the setting. Of course, the challenge becomes finding a way to tell new and different stories with all of these constants.
Which scene was the most fun to write?
I happened to be writing The Slither Sisters during the Republican presidential primariesódo you remember all of those endless television debates between Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, etc? Well, I watched all of them ó Iím a sucker for politics -- and I think those debates must have influenced the student council debate that begins on page 116. It was fun to imagine how sinister snake-sisters might lie and cheat their way to student council victory.
Do you have a set time to write each day? Or do you wait to be inspired?
I canít wait around for inspiration; in addition to writing this series, I have two kids and a full-time job. So Iíve become pretty good at time management. If I take a vacation day to work on these stories, I can easily work for 9 hours straight without getting tired. And I sometimes need all 9 hours just to get through a single 2000 word chapter. Iím so slow, itís almost embarrassing.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I read pretty widely ó all kinds of fiction and nonfiction. For this series, I drew a lot of inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft (of course) but also early Stephen King (The Body) and Louis Sacharís Holes, which is probably my favorite kidís book of all time.
What new doors has your writing opened up for you?
Writing this series has given me the opportunity to meet with a host of teachers and librarians, and Iíve really enjoyed that part of the experience. They are, of course, some of the kindest and most gracious people youíll ever met. And they read everything!
Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?
This is easy: Let the work be its own reward! Fame and fortune are bonus points.
Thank you, Charles Gilman, for such an amazing interview. If you would like copies of the two books in the Tales of Lovecraft Middle School series to read and enjoy, I have provided Amazon links for you below.