Today, I have Derek Kent (aka Derek the Ghost), author of The Scary School series to talk about the first and upcoming second book in the delightful series.
How did you come up with the idea for Scary School?
The first novel I ever wrote was originally called SCARY SCHOOL: BOOK 1 - MY HOMEWORK ATE MY DOG! - it's a middle-grade fantasy series very similar to Harry Potter. The only problem was, it didn't have a whole lot to do with a "scary school". I just thought of that title and wanted to use it before someone else did. So my editor at HarperCollins read the book, and almost acquired it, but in the end, they ended up passing on it, but gave me the recommendation to write a book series called SCARY SCHOOL that was lighter, funnier, and more school-centric. I took their advice, which became the Scary School series we know today. It was also great because for inspiration I got to use all of my favorite characters from the horror movies I loved, like Jason, and Freddy, and even the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park! I wanted to imagine what it would be like if they had all gone to school together when they were kids, and in my silly head, the reality of that would be pretty dang funny.
By the way, the original book ended up becoming RUDY AND THE BEAST: BOOK 1 - MY HOMEWORK ATE MY DOG! which is available exclusively through my website at http://www.scaryschool.com/bookstore.html - and you can get it on Kindle (just $2.99!) or paperback! For those who like dark fantasies like Harry Potter, I've gotten many responses that young readers enjoy it even more than Scary School!
What did you enjoy writing most about in the book?
I had to change schools when I was 11 years old after being with the same group of kids my whole life. I had a really hard time adjusting, so both books of Scary School and Rudy and the Beast deal with kids starting a new school and figuring out how make new friends. I enjoy writing about problems like this. Experiences that every kid has to go through at some point in their life, but told against the backdrop of a fantastical or supernatural story that kids love.
Describe the book in a sentence.
At a school where the daily routine consists of learning, horror, and mayhem, unique kids and scary teachers have the time of their lives at a place where just making it lunch with all your arms and legs is considered a great day.
What advice would you give to future writers - both writing and publishing wise?
For writing: just read and write as much as you can. The more you read and the more your write (especially in the genre you want to write in) the stronger your writing will get and the more aware you will be of your strengths and areas open for improvement. For publishing: if you are in the Southern California area, I'd actually highly recommend you take my class that I teach on getting an agent or publisher. I also teach 5-week children's and YA writing workshops as well as those special one-day workshops on getting published through Writing Pad in Los Angeles - www.WritingPad.com - so that's one option. If that's not an option, first off I'd advise you to complete your novel. That's an important first step. And when it's ready to be submitted, make sure you have a super-strong query letter and then get very serious and focused about sending it out, for which there are many different strategies that I wish I could get into, but that would go on for hundreds of pages. There's lots of good information about it online though.
What are you working on next?
I recently turned in Book 3 of Scary School, so you can expect new books in that series every June. Scary School #2: Monsters on the March comes out June 26, 2012 and Book 3 comes out June 2013. I also recently finished a new middle-grade comedy book called Principal Mikey about a 10-year-old kid who becomes principal of his school, and we're shopping that around right now. You may also see a spin-off of Scary School in the near future as well as a cinematic adventure book!
For more information on Scary School and all my other books, I invite everyone to visit www.ScarySchool.com- it's a super-fun website! You can play a video game on it, and if you win, you will receive the weirdest trophy ever! Plus you can tour the school, meet the students and faculty, watch some cool videos, and even unlock the "Secret Last Chapter" but you'll only know how to do that after you finish reading Book 1 of Scary School!
Thank you Derek!
The first book in THE SCARY SCHOOL series is out now.
The second book will be released on 26th June 2012