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Monster family

Monster family

When an orphaned brother and sister stumble across a secret house hidden in the woods, there they discover a family that is very different from any other... Author PADRAIG KENNY tells us more about THE MONSTERS OF ROOKHAVEN.

Here, PADRAIG KENNY answers some questions about his new book:

Q: Can you tell us a little about your writing career to date - and what other kinds of jobs have you had, apart from writing?

A: I've had two books published before The Monsters of Rookhaven, Tin was my first and it was followed by Pog. Before writing children's books I was a scriptwriter, and I've worked as an arts journalist, I've worked in libraries, I was a teacher, college tutor, worked in a factory, and I was a milkman.

Q: What is your new book, The Monsters of Rookhaven, about?

A: An orphaned brother and sister stumble upon a family of monsters living secretly in a mansion in a forest. They're taken in by the monsters who have a generations-long arrangement with the nearby village so that the two communities can co-exist. But things take a turn when something is unleashed from within the house. And just when things get bad, they get even worse...

Q: Was there any one moment or idea that helped inspire the story?

A: It started with an image of two girls in a forest at night holding hands. I knew they were friends, but I also knew they were both from very different worlds. The rest of the story followed from there, but the moment that really kicked the story into gear was when I hit upon the idea that there was a monster the monsters themselves were afraid of, which they keep locked in the bowels of the house.

Q: How did you decide who would be included in the family of monsters?

A: To be honest I'm not really sure. I just went with what felt right. I think I felt there should be a father figure, a mother figure, an uncle, and a brother of sorts even though the Family aren't like humans.

Q: How did Piglet become the 'monster' that all the monsters were afraid of?

A: I can't answer that because I'm not sure I know. Or do I? I might explore that in the sequel. But I have to admit there is a certain mystery I like to keep around Piglet's origins.

Q: Each of the monsters has a special talent. How did you decide on them, and if you could have one of their talents, which would you choose?

A: The talents just popped into my head, and I went with what I felt could be the strangest most unsettling gifts they could have. Hence the idea of a woman made entirely of spiders. (My apologies to any arachnophobes out there).

If I could have a talent it would be Odd's ability to travel anywhere via portal. It would save me a lot of the strain of having to walk upstairs.

Q: Who or what for you are real 'monsters' in everyday life?

A: The real monsters are people. The kind who whisper terrible things and goad others into hating people because of their alleged 'differences'.

Q: If you were going to encourage young writers to create their own monster, where would you suggest they start?

A: Start with something outlandish maybe in terms of their appearance. Give them six heads, tentacles, think about the way they move, and what motivates them, but then start to think about their personality, because monsters can be so much more than just their appearances.

Q: There are many surprising things at Rookhaven - even flesh-eating flowers. Which one did you enjoy creating the most?

A: Piglet was easily the most fun to create because as a writer you can do almost anything with him. He has a perspective no one else in the book has, and the powers that he has are great fun to play around with as a writer. When I was writing the book I always looked forward to writing the Piglet sections.

Q: There are many different themes explored in the novel, what would you like your readers to take from The Monsters of Rookhaven?

A: First and foremost I'd like them to be entertained and hopefully moved. If there's a message I suppose it's that empathy and community are important.

Q: Where do you prefer to write and what are you writing now?

A: I don't have any preference because I can write almost anywhere. I tend to divide my writing time between different rooms because I find sometimes that if I move location it almost gives me a sense of freshness, like travelling to an exotic country. These days travelling from my dining room to the sitting room is as exotic as it gets for me.

I've just finished the sequel to The Monsters of Rookhaven which expands the world of Rookhaven a little bit more with some new surprises.

Q: What kind of writing journey do your novels take you on?

A: I don't plan too strictly because I like the joy of discovery as I'm writing. I'll have an idea in my head of where the novel is going and a few central scenes and I'll write towards those like destinations.

I tend to write as fast as I possibly can because I believe in getting the first draft out as quickly as possible because there's the excitement of discovering where the story is going and I'm probably a bit impatient and get bored very easily.

I can never understand why people take years to write novels. I'd be afraid I'd get bored and lose interest.

Q: What would your ideal writer's shed look like?

A: When I first started writing I used to have a grand idea about writing in a study lined with books, a huge desk, a fancy chair, but now I think I'm happy just writing anywhere.

I think sometimes writers like the idea of a place to escape to go and write, but ultimately if you're writing you're always inside your own head so I wonder whether where you're actually writing really matters that much.

Q: What's your favourite escape from your desk?

A: I'm terrible because writing is my way of escaping, so essentially my job is my favourite form of escape, but when I'm not working I like to read, watch movies and television, basically immerse myself in stories to escape from writing my own stories. Although I like to walk a lot, but when I'm walking I end up thinking of new stories. There is no escape.


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