Sunday, May 22, 2005

THE MONSTERGRRLS: UNFAQED By John Rose (Updated November 2010)

Q: Who, or what, are The MonsterGrrls? And who is John Rose?

A: The MonsterGrrls (the what) is the title of a new novel series written by John Rose.  The MonsterGrrls (the who) are Frankie Franken, Bethany Ruthven, Punkin Nightshade, and Harriet Von Lupin, four teenage girls who are (respectively) a Creature, a vampire, a witch, and a werewolf. John Rose (who is not a monster) is a forty-two-year-old art teacher from Greenwood, MS, who created the MonsterGrrls (both the who and the what).

Q: So they're all monsters?

A: Yes, except for John Rose.  (Sometimes.)

Q: So what kind of monster is a Creature?

A: Creature was originally the term used to describe the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For the purposes of this novel, Frankie, who is a Frankenstein monster, is referred to as a Creature.

Q: Oh. So is Bethany like the vampires in Buffy The Vampire Slayer?

A: No. Joss Whedon, who created Buffy, based his vampires on an old historical tradition which states that a vampire is a dead body without a soul that is possessed by a demon. Bethany, on the other hand, is neither demonic nor entirely soulless; instead she is "Undead," which here means that her soul is trapped between life and death by dark vampiric magics, which require that she drink blood to live.

Q: Wait a minute, I'm getting confused. What is this again?

A: The MonsterGrrls is a novel series about the adventures of Frankie, Bethany, Punkin and Harriet, who are all monsterkind (or monsters). They live in an alternate universe called the Unknown World, in a place created by and for monsters called Morlock Heights.  It is separated from the human world (ours) by a magical Barrier. The monsters of Morlock Heights are attempting to live in harmony with humans (us), and because of this, the Grrls are sent to high school with humans in the small town of Clearwater.

Q: It says here John Rose lives in Greenwood, MS. Was Clearwater based on Greenwood?

A: No. Clearwater is mostly derived from John's experiences of living in small towns, and is not set in Mississippi. John himself has said that he doesn't actually know where Clearwater is; all he knows is that it's somewhere in America.

Q: Is The MonsterGrrls a series of horror novels? Does John read horror fiction?

A: The MonsterGrrls is not horror in the traditional sense, but more of a comedy-fantasy with elements of horror (after all, it is about monsters). As for horror fiction, John does read rather a lot of Stephen King, and is very keen on Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Laurell K. Hamilton. But if The MonsterGrrls was directly inspired by anything John read, it would have to be Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

Q: I heard that witches are sometimes called Wiccans. Is Punkin Wiccan?

A: No. Punkin does not follow any specific traditions of witchcraft (though research on witches was done for this novel, and we do on occasion have some fun with what we learned). She is more along the original definition of witch, which was a woman who knew a little more about midwifery, herbal medicine and arcane knowledge than most people.

Q: If Harriet's a werewolf, doesn't that mean that she's only a monster for part of the time?

A: No. Werewolves in this novel are able to maintain a wolfman-type form at will, and they are usually most comfortable in that form.

Q: But I thought werewolves only changed at full moon.

A: Well, that's the cool thing about fantasy fiction: any rules that are previously established may be changed, added to or rewritten outright. Though werewolves in Morlock Heights must respond to their "monster" side during the full moon, most of the time they stay in their wolfman form. And Harriet actually explains in the story why she doesn't try to look human all the time.

Q: So tell me.

A: Sorry. You'll have to read the books in order to find out.

Q: So where do I get it?

A: The first book in the series is called Out From The Shadows, and is now available from Createspace or at  There is also an online store of MonsterGrrls T-shirts and other merchandise at Atomic Brain Industries.

Q: This is all weird.

A: Well, of course it is; that's how these things get done. After all, Mad Science is a cottage industry, or rather a castle tower industry.

Join us at our little monster mash, if you dare. Check back soon and tell them the Mad Doctor sent you...