Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Guest post from J.H. Moncrieff
Never in a million years did I expect to write about sea creatures.
Not that I don’t have an affinity for them. I’ve always wanted to spend a day sitting alongside Loch Ness, hoping Nessie will make an appearance. And I love the legends of the nøkken and other creatures from my Scandinavian heritage.
Still, writing about monsters was never something I considered until Severed Press told me they were looking for a sea creature story. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist.
However, telling the same old story—where a bunch of macho dudes and maybe one female scientist (who happens to be supermodel gorgeous) blast the monsters into infinity—didn’t interest me in the slightest. If I were going to write a sea monster story, it would have to be something completely different than people were used to seeing.
Since I have a huge sympathy and love for animals, I thought, “Why not tell the story from the creatures’ point of view?” So I did. And I had a lot of fun with it. Yes, there is violence and gore and dark themes, but Nøkken in Monsters in Our Wake is also sarcastic, witty, and urbane. I’d hoped that bringing his side of the story to life would help provide a new perspective. Whenever an animal attacks, we talk about the people affected, but rarely do we discuss how the animal’s territory is dwindling, its food supplies dying, and the part we play in these tragedies.
The result was a very different book. Different from anything I’d ever written before, and certainly different from your typical sea monster saga. So much so, I was afraid Severed wouldn’t want it. But they did, and I figured they understood their audience well enough to know what would be accepted and what wouldn’t. I also hoped the people who loved more mainstream monster stories wouldn’t notice mine—that it would be a mere ripple in an ocean of books.
Then Monsters became an Amazon horror bestseller. Suddenly, a lot of people were finding my book, and not all of them were happy about it. The backlash began, and it focused on one thing—the creature’s point of view. Either readers loved this unique aspect or they hated it. And when they hated it, they really hated it. One woman didn’t make it past page two. A man advised others not to read anything else I’d ever written, even though Monsters is unlike the rest of my work.
I knew I was taking a risk by swimming against the current, and that not everyone would appreciate it. What I didn’t anticipate was how angry they’d be, or what a polarizing book Monsters would become. Knowing this, was it still worth trying something new and smashing a time-honored genre convention? Definitely.
At the end of the day, I’m not writing for people who want the same old, same old. I don’t like remakes, and I have no interest in writing one. It’s important to have a variety of books and voices available. Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was the same! I get why diverging from a trope irritates some people; I have my comfort food for the brain too. That’s what series are for—you know exactly what you’re going to get with each and every book.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to seek out readers who appreciate the unexpected, the ones who complain there’s never anything new under the sea.
J.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely
Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.
The first two novels of her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, will be officially released on May 16, 2017.
When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
To get free e-books and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.
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