Not Old Enough to Drink or Vote, Old Enough to Hero-it-up
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
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.
On this blog tour, I've spoken about the inspiration for The Our Monster Chronicles and specifically the series' recently released second novel "Bad Monsters". Those inspirations... 80's movies like "The Goonies" and "E.T.", and especially Japanese anime with plucky school-aged heroes.
What do all my inspirations for the series and for "Bad Monsters" have in common? Young heroes. Protagonists too young that they cannot order a beer! Yet they fight against impossible odds and epic threats the likes of demons, mad men, alien threats, and supernatural creatures that the adults have not the imagination to fathom and thus not the courage to confront.
When we grow up, we tend to discard what we consider "childish things". Things like our belief in the fantastic, the mystery of the world's magic, our fear of the dark and the things that lurk there. We categorize the world, drill it down into lists, numbers, we rationalize the things we cannot understand. It's a way to trick ourselves into ignoring our fear... fear of the unknown, the unexplained, our lack of control. When you're an adult, you're not supposed to fear. What do we fear most? Not having answers. We're adults! We run countries and big corporations. We should have the answers!
Sorry to say but magic, fantasy, monsters and demons and gods sometimes cannot be understood. Adults can't handle that reality.
Children, teens, and adolescents all experience fear but they accept the fanciful. How did the tuxedo dude on the stage saw the pretty lady in half? Adults claim there's a second woman in the other half of the box. Kids are happy to say "duh! it's magic!" and leave the issue alone.
Adults cannot handle a world without answers. They need to control reality. Understanding and rationalization is control. Order the world, put it into a box, and tell the box to "stay!" Demons don't fit in the storage boxes adults shove in the closet next to their green army men and action figures.
In pages of fiction, you need heroes that know their fears and seek to master those fears but not through rationalization and ignoring. They need their minds open to a wide range of possibilities to resolve conflict. Those with imagination do not hunt down and exterminate dragons, they attempt to make peace with the dragons. They see the solutions no one else can. They accept that magic sometimes cannot be understood, instead they marveled at it, respected it, and sometimes fear it for its power.
Jon, George, Alice, Mikaila, and Russell—the five adolescent heroes from "Our Monsters"—met the hybrids. They learned of the hybrids' natures. They did not see the possible dangers the hybrids possessed given their unique abilities, nor were they narrow-minded in thinking the hybrids and those powers tools only useful for destructive purposes. When the military—their parents—forcibly took back the hybrids, the rational thing for the teens to do would have been to accept being sent to their rooms, the scolding from their parents, and move on with their homework and go to the homecoming dance. But no! They broke into a military base, fought past soldiers, liberated the hybrids for a second time, and went on the run.
Characters who embrace the unknown, who open their minds, who accept the majesty of magic, are willing to throw away caution and rational and do something insane. Adolescents—children, teens, the underage—are not burdened with the teachings of their parents and the prejudices of community. They're still finding their way. They're in the process of trying to decide who they want to be. How to think. What to believe. At a tender age, our core beliefs are not set.
That's the reason I enjoy writing about heroic children.
Now, people will say that there are plenty of adult heroes who save the day and do the impossible. Age makes no difference.
Sure. Imagination and the ability to defy the conventions of the community/society are needed. Children have that in spades. Artists do as well. Adults that flip the bird at society and shout to the heavens "I will go my own way" are the heroes.
C.S. Lewis said it best...
"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
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.