Please welcome one of my favorite indie authors Brian Rowe
to Fantasy Book Chick...
Brian Rowe's Guest Post
So why spend a year of my life writing a YA trilogy about monsters, of all things? My first YA trilogy — the three Happy Birthday to Me books — took my readers into strange and daring places, but still mostly resembled real life, with a strong and tragic romance at the center of it all. My second YA trilogy is a different beast altogether, one that takes a group of film geeks and pits them against every monster known to man. I think my switch in genre for the second trilogy has perplexed some of my readers; the Grisly High books are definitely the evil little stepchildren to Happy Birthday to Me. Both are YA, both have strong, capable teenagers who find themselves in extraordinary situations, but the tone is different in my new trilogy. The Vampire Underground (Book 1), The Zombie Playground (Book 2), and The Monster Apocalypse (Book 3) are meant to be pure entertainment. There is romance in the three books, complete with a romantic finale in Book 3 that I hope will be unexpected. But the real focus I put into these three books was making them scary. Who doesn’t love to be scared?
I grew up on horror, immersing myself in the work of R.L. Stine as early as age eight. While the Goosebumps and Fear Street books are not great literature, they kept me up many a late night, and I was partly inspired by Stine’s books to craft a new trilogy of teen horror novels for the twenty-first century. Another experience that played into the formation of these books was my visit to Bodie Ghost Town back in 2002, when I spent half a day traipsing around a forgotten city of decrepit buildings and eerie silences, and I couldn’t stop thinking that day that I needed to set one of my stories there. When some found out I was writing a “vampire” novel, they told me I was just trying to hop onto the Twilight craze, but that wasn’t the case at all. I had the idea for Book 1, The Vampire Underground, for ten years, and had always imagined vampires living underneath the ghost town. It’s how, from the beginning, I wanted to tell this story. With famous, iconic monsters!
But the biggest influence on the Grisly High trilogy is my love for horror movies. The maincharacters of the trilogy — Brin, Ash, Anaya, and Mr. Barker — love movies, but not even Ash loves movies as much as I do. My dad introduced me to horror movies at a young age, and by the time I was eleven I had seen all the classics, from Frankenstein to Psycho, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Halloween, from The Evil Dead to A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’d seen them all. While I was finishing writing Happy Birthday to You and planning The Vampire Underground, I was trying to find who my main characters were. Making them film buffs just made perfect sense to me. What’s more ironic than a group of horror film nuts who go to a strange town to make a horror movie, who then come incontact with real deal horror movie villains themselves? I was intrigued bythis idea and decided to run with it.
When I finished The Vampire Underground, I initially outlined six more books in the Grisly High series. The second book, The Zombie Playground, is still what it would’ve been in that seven-book series, but the others were going to revolve around one single creature each. Book 3 was to be demons, Book 4 was to be ghosts, Book 5 was to be werewolves, Book 6 was to be aliens, and Book 7 was going to feature all of these monsters fighting each other in the most epic, giant battle in all of literature history! But when I reached the end of The Zombie Playground, I realized that these books lived or died based on the relationships of the core characters, and that I only needed one more book to say everything I wanted to say about Brin and Ash and Anaya and Mr. Barker, and bring this Grisly Highstory full-circle.
The Zombie Playground was a blast to write because I’d always wanted to blend two things that I’d never seen blended together before, in a book, or a film: the horror genre, with the sport of golf. It was so much fun to devise a story that would bring these two elements together in a way that makes sense, and I loved expanding on the mythology of the Grisly town to bring zombies into the forefront, after focusing on vampires in the first book.
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