Look out for monsters and magic!
9th May 19

Look out for monsters and magic!

Brat lives on an island with his master, who makes monsters...but what are his plans for this strange army of monsters, and can Brat do anything to stop him? Author LORRAINE GREGORY tells us more!

Q: What inspired the idea for The Maker of Monsters, about a boy on an island who helps his master to create monsters?

A: Actually I started writing this story years ago back in 2011 as part of a competition. The theme was Frankenstein and immediately I saw a ruined castle, a crazed scientist and a young boy forced to assist him as he made monster creations to get revenge on his enemy!

Q: Why did the theme of Frankenstein draw you as a writer?

A This story is based loosely on Frankenstein - except there's monsters instead of men and necromancy instead of electricity. I am fascinated by the power of life and death and the obsession required to go through with such experiments, and Frankenstein is such an enduring story despite being 200 years old!

Q: How did you go about creating your monsters, did you have 'rules' for what they can and can't do?

Originally I got quite carried away and had monsters made from dragons and minotaurs and cyclops but fun as that was, my editor suggested they might be a little bit too big and powerful for this story so I scaled them back a bit!

One of the rules I had was no wings - because if they could fly that would make things very difficult for Brat! Really I just wanted to make them as fascinating as possible and get children's imaginations going!

Q: And your favourite monsters?

A: My favourite monsters are probably the insectoids - mainly because they're the ones I would personally find the most terrifying so they were really fun to write!

Q: How well do you know your main characters, like Brat, at the start of the story?

A: Brat took me quite a long time to get inside and I went through many, many drafts before I finally caught him.

It was tricky because he is so terribly treated by his master that it impacts on his confidence hugely and so he's not very brave and he's not adventurous, which is what people expect from the hero!

But I liked having Molly and his friends help him through and see him develop his self esteem so that as the story progresses his true strength can come through.

Q: The story's settings - the island that Brat grows up on, and the mainland that he escapes to - are full of detail and atmosphere. How do you get to know your settings?

A: I always make a map for my own reference and find it really useful. I'm also a big fan of Pinterest and create a mood board for each book that gives me inspiration and ideas.

I like to get a feel for the world and then each draft the details get clearer and I can see it in my head well enough to put it down on the page.

Castles and dungeons are one of my favourite places to visit so I think that leaks through into my books and lends some reality!

Q: There are also some lovely supporting characters - Tingle and Sherman, Brat's 'pets', are wonderful, so is Molly - and the villains! Did any of the supporting characters stand out for you?

A: Funnily enough, Tingle and Sherman were based on my cats! One of them is very friendly and likes to be centre of attention and the other is shy and quiet and slow but very loving underneath and that's pretty much how Tingle and Sherman are! I am hugely attached to them both and love the dynamic the three of them have when together.

In earlier drafts Molly's role was much smaller and Brat left her behind as he went on to the domed city but my editor really liked her and suggested I keep her in, and I think she makes a wonderful counterpoint to Brat!

Q: If you could live in a world you have created, where would it be and what would it look like?

A: Ooh I'd definitely have my own island with a fabulous beach and then a lush forest with lots of wild creatures and I'd have my own castle with a massive library and probably a dungeon just in case!

I'd love my world to have dragons and unicorns and magic and I'd need my own set of wings so I could fly to the mainland and pick up a pizza when I got peckish!

Q What is the best question you've been asked?

A: The best question I've been asked is whether I've been down a sewer (from a scene in Mold) and I was pleased to say No! It was all my imagination!

Q: Where and when are your favourite writing places, and what are you writing now?

A: I really like to write late at night while everyone else is asleep. I'm definitely not a morning person so never get up early to write.

Usually you'll find me on my reclining sofa in my living room with the laptop and a cat or two lost in thought or typing away. I'm always happiest at home and find it difficult to write in other places.

At the moment I'm working on two ideas, one has dragons in and the other is more historical and a bit gothic!

Q: What are your favourite escapes when you're not writing?

A: If I'm not writing then I'm usually reading, watching TV (my favourite show is Game of Thrones) or playing video games like Uncharted - basically anything where I can disappear into another world!

I also love to see friends and go out to the cinema or dinner! And I love a holiday where it's totally secluded and there's a hot tub and a pile of books and nothing I have to do.

Q: Who are your favourite children's writers, and whose books would you recommend to our members?

A: Oh so many! I love James Nicol - author of the Apprentice Witch series, Vashti Hardy also - her new book Wildspark is amazing, Jennifer Killick and her brilliantly funny Alex Sparrow series, Cressida Cowell's new series of books Once Was Magic are fantastic and Peter Bunzl's Cogheart series is fab too!

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