Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Interview with Hillary Monahan

Okay, confession time.

Horror novels terrify me. I know, I know...I'm a complete wienie, and there's probably a pie chart floating around out there to prove it. 

Still, though. Still. 


Regardless of all that, I can't wait to read Hillary Monahan's MARY: THE SUMMONING (Disney-Hyperion, 9/2/2014). Because--dang--it sounds amazing:

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.  
Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.  
A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror. 
Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered. 
A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

*bites nails*
*thinks intensely about unicorns and kittens and rainbows*


For those of you who aren't familiar with Hillary, you're missing out. Because she's...well, she's Hillary. Refreshingly genuine. Laugh-out-loud funny. Totally unprecedented

Want more? Here's her bio:

At night, when the lights are dim and the creepy crawlies scuttle through the shadows, Hillary Monahan throws words at a computer. Sometimes they’re even good words. A denizen of Massachusetts and an avid gamer dork, she’s most often found locked in a dark room killing internet zombies. MARY: THE SUMMONING, her YA horror novel about four girls who summon Bloody Mary, will be published by Disney-Hyperion Fall of 2014.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Hillary about her forthcoming novel, her background as a writer, and basically All Things Hillary, and here's what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

My background is pretty much, "I grew up with a writer."  My grandmother worked in the industry for over fifty years.  You know those Hallmark cards with the cranky old lady on them?  Maxine, I think?  Gram was the original writer for the line.  In fact, she used to do a lot of greeting card copy and was really good at the short, clever quips.  I like to think I inherited a little of her humor.

I remember being Small Me and watching Gram plunking away at her typewriter in the front room.  While she worked, the house had to stay silent else all suffer the wrath of The Working Dorothy. She was up at the crack of dawn and wrote seven days a week.  There were breaks in the day—for The Price is Right and Young and the Restless—but after the shows were over, she was back at it.  Gram was a real professional and a shining example of writerly discipline.

What is your writing process like?

Wake up in the morning, shuffle to kitchen, procure mass quantities of caffeinated hot beverages.  Stumble blindly to desk in office, sit down, sip caffeinated beverage.  Fire up monitor.  Stare at screen.  Reread everything I wrote yesterday.  Mild tweaks and formulate a plan.  Rub sleep from face.  Drink more coffee.  Eat a donut.  Write three sentences. Pat a basset hound.  Write another sentence, get walked on by cat.  Fling cat after snuggles.  Write a paragraph.  Look at an internet video and hope it's not a Budweiser horse commercial or I'll cry.  Answer emails.  Write another two lines.  Get distracted by something shiny.  Examine shiny thing.  Refill caffeinated beverage.  Return to office.  Write another sentence.  Twitter check.  Facebook check.  Open YouTube and get caught in a cat video spiral.  Look at the time.  Notice it's past three and I've written almost nothing.  Regret poor life decisions and write fifteen hundred words in a frenzy.  Close MS Word and hope that it doesn't look like troll vomit in the morning. 

. . . I think that covers it.

What inspired you to write MARY: THE SUMMONING? 

I'm a huge horror geek.  There's a reason I started the YA SCREAM QUEENS blog.  I love horror and always have.  When I was a small, zygote Hillary I'd host slumber parties and force my less-than-enthusiastic friends to watch all sorts of crazy things.  Candyman, The Exorcist, The Watcher in the Woods (yes, it's Disney, but it's scary so stop judging me.)  I devoured Christopher Pike's books until I found Stephen King and then I never looked back.  I remember sitting in my bed at fourteen, THE SHINING perched on my chest, my face contorted into this half-reverie, half-OH GOD WHY expression.  I was terrified, but I never stopped thinking, "This. Is.  Awesome."

When I decided I wanted to write a YA that slanted more towards true, traditional horror, I plumbed the memory for things that freaked me out at fifteen, sixteen.  Bloody Mary was one of those things.  Mirrors did a number on my psyche for years after my introduction to the urban legend.  So I lassoed that fear, slapped it on the page, and hammered away until it made a quasi-functioning book baby.  And here we are.

What other projects do you have coming up?

Ravenstone, a UK publisher, has bought another one of my books which is super exiting!  Where Mary is scary, THE AWESOME is funny—pretty much opposite ends of the YA spectrum, but I never do anything easy.  I've decided to put THE AWESOME out under a nom de plume to separate my respective genres, so Eva Darrows lives and she's . . . well.  Me.  THE AWESOME will be available in early spring 2015. 

At the moment I am pecking away at a dark comedy.  Hopefully people will laugh as much reading it as I've laughed writing it.  I expect I'll be wrapping that by the end of March, and then it's onto MARY's sequel, wherein I attempt to make my monster even more creeptastic.  From there?  Who knows.  As my friend Eric says,"I go where the tingling takes me."  It's a good philosophy that's worked out well so far.

Thank you, Hillary!


Don't forget to check out Hillary's links!  

Hillary's Twitterwebsite, and Goodreads
MARY: THE SUMMONING on GoodreadsAmazon, and Barnes and Noble

You won't be sorry. :)

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