STOPPING TO HEAL – 80'S INFLUENCE ON "BAD MONSTERS"
In Clinton D. Harding's debut novel "Our Monsters", Jon Graves and his friends escaped their parents and the military, leaving behind the only home they'd ever known, the small town of Carpenter. But their freedom is short lived as they find themselves in more danger than before they left Carpenter.
"Bad Monsters"—the second book The Our Monsters Chronicles, released March 2014—picked up where its prequel ended. Jon and his friends are on the run and hunted and by General Mauser and his military dogs. Jon can practically feel them breathing down his neck, as the jaws of the military dogs snapping at his heels.
Blood is spilled, friendly and not, and now Jon must answer his friends' questions sooner than later, or risk one of those friends dying. He's just not sure he's the person to be deciding their fates or if he, Alice, and George are fully prepared to walk away from their normal lives.
A farm in northern California may serve as salvation to this scared, but brave, group of teenagers. However, can they trust the inhabitants they find there, who themselves have a history with Carpenter? If Jon can talk his way past the shotgun in his face, he might just discover what he and his friends need; answers about the history of Carpenter, the hybrids, the powers the teens borrow from their hybrids and who are the true monsters. In all this confusion and danger, Jon may also find a young woman who can help heal the wounds left by Mikaila when she left him and the group.
Pick up "Bad Monsters", the second installment in The Our Monsters Chronicles, is now available and can be found in e-book and paperback form at major online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords.
I grew up in the 80's. When I was young, my mother worked a second job on the weekends to pay the bills. While most kids were teaming up for a baseball games on Saturdays, my mother took my sister and me with her to that second job. My sister and I brought books, comics, toys, rented videos from Blockbuster, and a portable 16-inch combination TV/VCR.
Imagine a deserted office building in Marina Del Ray California. The lights off. Trash cans emptied with new plastic liners. Empty cubicles. Boardrooms with vacant chairs. Powered down computers and copiers.
While my mother worked all weekend, my sister set out our books and pushed play on the TV/VCR. Those tapes wore out quickly. Blockbuster made a lot of money. I'm still perplexed why Blockbuster went out of business! I should have singlehandedly funded its future operations!
In those days movies like "The Karate Kid", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "War Games", "The Goonies", and "The Lost Boys" occupied my time. I wore out those VHS rental. Maybe that's why Blockbuster went out of business? They had little usable inventory left after I broke in my membership card.
When it came time to write "Bad Monsters", the second novel in The Our Monster Chronicles series, I went to an old staple for inspiration.
The entire novel series is based around a group of teenagers combating the short-sightedness and corruptness of the US military. Jon Graves and his friends rescue a group of test-tube monsters—called hybrids—from murderous mental conditioning and lives as weapons meant as disposable instruments on the battlefield. Adults, their parents are the enemy. Friendship is the teenagers' greatest weapon. If Jon, his human friends, and their hybrid companions stick together they're a team the military has no chance in oppressing.
Sounds like an 80's movie, right?
In "Bad Monsters", the teenage heroes and their hybrids are now on the run. They've escaped the military's base but a group of highly trained soldiers and their own leashed hybrids are on the trail. Disaster strikes, leaving one of Jon's number near death.
That's how the film—or rather the novel—begins. The teenagers and hybrids go in search of sanctuary but find even more trouble. They also cannot avoid the military forever.
One of my favorite movies (and comics, for that matter) is the first—and best—"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". While many similarities can be found between "Bad Monsters" and the film and comic, there is one in particular similarity that inspired me. In the film, the turtles and their human companions are attacked by the evil Foot Clan. Raphael, the grumpy brother of four in need of anger management, is injured in a rooftop battle and the turtles are outnumbered. So the turtles flee. The group heads to a farm to recuperate and meditate on their relationships with each other and their goals in the current conflict.
This was part of the inspiration for "Bad Monsters", or at least the germ that I never knew I had infecting my imagination.
I need my heroes to find a direction. At the end of "Our Monsters" the teenagers and their hybrids escape military bondage but... now what? I knew the answer, of course. I plotted the series. However, I needed the characters to come together and find the answers for themselves. Jon, George, and Alice are also a dysfunctional unit. While I don't think their little family will ever stop fighting, nor will Trick stop playing pranks on Bo, after the events in "Our Monsters" the characters needed to come together. They needed re-forge. They needed to stitch their individual patches into the beginning of a cozy quilt.
So I dropped the characters on to a quiet place in Northern California, out in the middle of nowhere, to reflect and heal together. There they'll discover new allies, reassess their advisories, and unearth clues as to the origins of the hybrids and the hybrids' bond with their individual human companions.
Nothing goes right. Everyone is at each other's throats. Trouble is not far down the road.
Read "Bad Monsters" to see just what kind of trouble. Also, look for more articles on the some of the new characters appearing in "Bad Monsters" and more on the novel's and the series' additional inspirations.
When Clinton D. Harding is not busy wrestling and taming wild Scottish Terriers in wilderness of Oxnard California, he's using a magic pen he pulled from a stone to craft new worlds filled with fantastic beasts and evils that need fighting. He is also the author-publisher of The Our Monsters Chronicles, a YA series of novels that combines fantasy/sci-fi elements with horror chills. For more information about Harding and his creations visit his website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or become a fan at Goodreads.