Rooting for the Monster

Guest Blogger: Sophie Littlefield

Thanks for having me, Janice! I am so intrigued by the work you and  Jonathan Maberry do in your book (WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE), where you examine the age-old good versus evil theme in fiction.

I’ve thought a lot about the concept of evil in monsters. My dad was a huge Boris Karloff fan, and as kids we got to watch the old monster movies with him when they showed reruns on Saturday nights. Dad always took the side of the monster. He loved the lurching, confused Frankenstein and always protested his innocence.

The swamp thing, the mummy, the wolf man, King Kong – all could be argued to be innocent, doomed creatures, unleashed or provoked by their human facilitators and manipulators to wreak havoc.

Maybe that was in my mind when I wrote the zombies in BANISHED. They were only a tiny part of the plot in the first draft of the novel, but my editors thought it would be interesting to explore them further and give them a bigger presence.Banished

My zombies are created as a result of a healing gone wrong, so they are “innocent”. Their soul departs, so they aren’t really people any more in any meaningful sense, but I thought there was still something wistful and poignant about a body – the earthly form of a person once loved and cherished – that, lacking will, could do nothing but follow orders until it literally disintegrated.

They’re quite horrible, of course, and it was kind of fun to write the scenes of dread and mayhem – pure, campy horror. But I also thought a lot about the double tragedy of my zombies’ not being allowed a dignified death, and then being forced by circumstances to commit unspeakable acts they did not even understand. I often found myself thinking back to poor old Frankenstein, and the 1970’s split level basement where I and my brother and sister and my dad and the family dog shared a big bowl of popcorn and cheered for the monster.

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri and attended college in Indiana. She worked in technology before having children, and was lucky enough to stay home with them when they were growing up. Fifteen years into a writing “hobby,” she landed an agent and made it her full-time job. Her first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, was nominated for an Edgar Award and won an RT BookReviews Reviewers Choice Award. Her young adult novel, BANISHED, will be released by Delacorte in October 2010.

What monsters grabbed your heart?

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2 Comments:

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rooting for the Monster -- Topsy.com

  2. It’s important to have some sympathy/empathy for the antagonists we write, even the non-humans. :)

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