Friday, July 27, 2007


Hello, everybody! Gosh, all sorts of things are happening!

Yesterday (July 25, 2007), the MonsterGrrls joined the literary scene as part of Mississippi Arts Hour, a program broadcast live each Thursday from Jackson's WLEZ 103.7 FM on
Mississippi Public Radio. MonsterGrrls creator/author John Rose joined Mississippi Writers' Guild president Richelle Putnam and other MWG members on the program, which focuses on artists and creative folks in Mississippi. The program was hosted by Diane Williams of the Mississippi Arts Commission, and Thursday's show was an exclusive for the MWG.

In addition to John and Richelle, also
appearing were Vice President Ralph Gordon, Executive Director Anne McKee, Treasurer/Parliamentarian Dan McKee, and John Floyd, a mystery writer who has recently won the 2007 Derringer Award. Mr. Floyd will also be a speaker for the Guild's 2007 PLANS Conference, which will be held in August in Meridian, MS. Other members present were chapter heads Lydia Dell (Jackson) and Barry McMullan (Meridian), and members Judy Tucker, Peggy Campbell and Jerusha Bosarge.

John promoted the Greenwood chapter and books written by members of his chapter in Greenwood, MS, and read a short excerpt from The MonsterGrrls. Other books promoted were Keetha DePriest Reed's Culinary Kudzu series and Opal Turner Brown's Against The Darkness Of The Night.

Reed's Culinary Kudzu and More Culinary Kudzu are unique among other cookbooks: they also feature memories and stories of growing up in a Southern household. Reed herself has great credentials for being a Southern-food doyenne: a bachelor's degree in hospitality management from the University Of Southern Mississippi, award-winning public relations work, food writing, recipe development and catering. In addition to being the MWG Greenwood chapter founder and head of Pecan Street Press (her publishing company), Keetha is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. She blogs at the official WriteKudzu blog and is currently collaborating on a novel.

Opal Turner Brown's Against The Darkness Of The Night is a historical fiction novel which came out of stories told to her by her relatives around the fireplace. This engaging novel tells the story of Lydia Walker, who deals on a personal level with the upheaval of the Civil War when William, her husband, goes to fight. The novel details the struggles of Lydia's attempts to run the family farm on her own in her husband's absence. Opal has worked as a teacher and a volunteer within the National Park System, and is a very prolific writer with several other projects nearing completion. Against The Darkness Of The Night is available at iUniverse.

Clearly, our friend and official chronicler John is in fantastic company within the Mississippi Writers' Guild! Keep checking the Harbinger, our official MonsterGrrls website, and the other cool places listed here for all your literary needs!

Sincerely yours,
Frankie Franken

POST-MORTEM: WLEZ 103.7 FM's full schedule and roster of shows is available at
Richelle Putnam and the Mississippi Writers' Guild can be contacted through their website at for information on their work and the upcoming PLANS conference. Any Greenwood, MS area authors who are interested in local membership should contact Keetha DePriest Reed through the Pecan Street Press at

Monday, July 23, 2007

How To Make A MonsterGrrl: FRANKIE FRANKEN

(This post begins an irregular series in which John talks about his characters and the influences of their creation. We begin with the MonsterGrrls' leader: our charming Creature, Frankie Franken.)

Frankie Franken: Nancy Drew Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

The main reason I have so violently pursued this project known as The MonsterGrrls is very simple: Upon their creation, the Grrls arrived cut from whole cloth. That has never happened with anything else I've ever come up with, and that alone seemed reason enough to pursue it.

So what to say about my Creature-Grrl, Frankie Franken? She is, quite obviously, the Child Of Frankenstein, a hybrid of both Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester as they appeared in the films Frankenstein and The Bride Of Frankenstein. Both of Jack Pierce's makeups were referenced for her creation: I felt she should have the green
skin, the neck bolts, the stitches, the head-clamps, and of course, that beautiful, funky, Nefertiti-inspired hair, with a couple extra white streaks added and morphed into lightning bolts. (After all, there's never been any doubt in my mind that that hairdo is extremely conductive.)

Some updated elements were added too, such as a Ramones-style leather jacket, black jeans and the clunky boots, which were back in style again when the Grrls first saw the dark of night in 2001. Her T-shirt began as a striped T-shirt before I gave her a Shazam-style T-shirt, red with a yellow lightning bolt, perfect for a Creature born of lightning.

Frankie possesses her own kind of beauty, and her personality is very Grrl-next-door: sweet, intrepid, outgoing, and most importantly, intelligent. I had seen enough of dumb Frankensteins: though Boris Karloff's characterization of the Creature is both terrifying and sad, it has been the template for any number of goofball characterizations, and nearly all of them fall far from Mary Shelley's original Creature, which was cunning, well-spoken, thoughtful and quite self-aware. I wanted to go back to this, and as a result, Dr. Franken, who is Frankie's creator and "father", ensured that Frankie would be intelligent by teaching her once she got off the slab. I felt that Victor Frankenstein's big mistake was that he gave up on his Creature almost from the moment it woke up. I've never been sure what he expected: a home-grown, homemade homunculus cannot be expected to turn out like Brad Pitt mixed with Albert Einstein no matter how good you are. The Creature needed training, direction and acceptance. Most of all, it needed love.

And that's one of the real horrors these days when you think about it: that a lot of teenagers don't get the care and direction and love that they need. If you're going to be a parent, your child needs these things. If the child doesn't get them, it will become quite literally a monster, pure and simple.

So Frankie got trained in etiquette, poise, grammar, speech, vocabulary, and tap dancing (heh-heh, thank you, Mel Brooks; Young Frankenstein is still one of the best Frankenstein movies ever made). And there was, inevitably, a Nancy Drew influence; both of them have the same taste for adventure, and despite Frankie's enormous talents in Mad Science, I think she has a secret desire to be a detective. She's read all of her universe's equivalent of Nancy Drew, and her adventures at Clearwater High, (both present and forthcoming) will give her plenty of opportunity to sharpen her skills. Of the Grrls, she's probably my personal favorite, and she serves as a continuing inspiration and drive to keep working and keep punching with the Grrls, because she's one of the reasons that I've just got to see what happens next.

Next: Bethany Ruthven


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. As you all probably know (mostly because the bloody media won't let us alone about anything anymore), the seventh and final book in J. K. Rowling's much-admired Harry Potter series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, has just been released. Having finished it, I was initially loath to do a review of it because, quite frankly, none of us here at MonsterGrrls Central have any intention of giving away the answer to the big question: Does Harry Potter die?

Nevertheless, we must respond, so here is the MonsterGrrls' official answer, which I have been duly authorized to give: Buy the bloody thing and read it yourself if you want to find out, you grubby little git. What kind
of monsters do you think we are?

Now, I'm sure that some of you are wondering how I'm going to be able to review this book without giving away the proper answer to the does-Harry-die question. Well, here's how it goes:

People die. Other people become seriously injured. Some other people prove themselves to be right sodding bastards. Still other people confirm deep suspicions about themselves and their character that you have probably had all along. There's a quest (duh). There's quite a bit of violence, fighting and magic-using, which goes without saying (also duh). Two major characters do die, after all, in quite spectacular ways. (No, I'm not going to tell you who. See above.) Tons of secrets are finally revealed

And in the end (and I hope I'm not giving too much away by saying this), that which has been given the least amount of analysis and scrutiny throughout the whole of this series, that which has had almost no press or media attention at all, is that which ultimately saves the day.

Now read the bleeding thing yourself and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Sincerely yours,
Bethany Ruthven

Full marks. Completely sodding brilliant. But then, it's J. K. Rowling, so what else could it be?

POST-MORTEM: In the event that you are now searching around for something else to take up your time, an excellent fantasy called The MonsterGrrls is available for purchase at, or go directly to It's quite good and more spiritually satisfying than being on Myspace, so come round and have a look. --B. R.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MonsterGrrls Special News Report: CASTLE DRACULA UP FOR SALE

According to an AP news story we discovered on the Internet this morning, Castle Dracula is now up for sale. The Bran Castle, located in central Romania, was put up for sale Monday by Archduke Dominic Habsburg, the heir to the estate through the line of Princess Illeana. Baytree Capital, the company representing Habsburg, will sell "to the right purchaser under the right circumstances" and predicts to sell for more than $135 million.

The castle was built in the 14th century as a fortress against the Ottoman Turks. The royal family moved in during the 1920's but lost the castle to communist regime in 1948. Since then the castle has been restored and has gained popularity as a tourist attraction in Romania, due to the legend that Vlad The Impaler, the Wallachian warlord who inspired Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, spent a night in the castle during the 1400's.

Our own vampire Grrl Bethany Ruthven commented on the sale: "It's a lovely old home, but I think $135 million's a bit pricey. I'd put up maybe $90 million if they threw in all the furniture and did something about that moldy spot in the dungeon. The most preferable thing would be to sell it to someone who would continue its current status as a tourist attraction, because the property is historically significant. But that's overstating the obvious."

The castle's namesake was not available for comment
, though the venerable count has been reported to be sighted at various times in the vicinity. Ruthven, upon hearing this, snorted, "Yeah. Him and Elvis."

The full story on Castle Dracula is available at the title link above. Let the bidding commence, and as always, caveat emptor...