Today we're excited to chat with John Clause Bemis, author of Lord of Monsters. Read on for more about John and his book, plus a giveaway!
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The first book the Out of Abaton series, THE WOODEN PRINCE, was a re-imagining of the Pinocchio story, so the central structure of the story followed Carlo Collodi’s original, although with lots of twists and turns, world-building and character-development of my own. LORD OF MONSTERS was my opportunity to take Pinocchio and his allies in any direction I wanted. I knew after reading the first book readers would be excited to see the strange and magical world of Abaton, which is only discussed but not visited in THE WOODEN PRINCE. I was excited as well to explore Abaton and to continue Pinocchio and Lazuli’s adventures in this setting that was so different from the first book’s Da Vinci-punk Venetian Empire.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
There are so many characters I adore in the series: the fox knight Mezmer who longs only for glorious battle, the feisty and fast-talking mushroom Goliath, the clever and fearless Lazuli, daughter of Abaton’s immortal ruler. But in my heart, my favorite has to be Pinocchio. Having transformed from a mindless mechanical servant into a living, thinking, feeling boy, he sees the whole world around him with such a powerful curiosity. He’s passionate and earnest and often a bit naïve. But this gives me so much room for exploring what it means to be on a journey of self-discovery—a journey we’re all on.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
Funny that you ask, because almost always it’s the novel first. But that wasn’t the case for LORD OF MONSTERS. I’d written down this title in an idea notebook years ago, not knowing what the story would be, but always intrigued by the possibilities. And as I was working on THE WOODEN PRINCE and thinking ahead to its sequel, I realized how perfectly it would fit. Monsters were driven from the kingdom of Abaton centuries ago, but now that Pinocchio, Lazuli, and their allies have arrived, the monsters are returning. It’s up to our motley, madcap heroes to save Abaton from this ancient monstrous army.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The ones that come to mind are so spoiler-heavy, I don’t want to ruin the surprises for readers. But one scene I can tell involves the first time Pinocchio encounters the monsters all together. He’s weaponless and overwhelmingly outnumbered. And what I’m most proud of with this scene is the tone it strikes. I wanted the monsters to be both utterly terrifying and funny at the same time. As a reader, I love the feeling of laughing when I’m on the edge of
my seat, white-knuckled with fear. I love how this scene came together, and how it sets up the furiously-paced last third of the story.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The best books aren’t plot-driven or character-driven. They’re both. As I develop and discover a new story, my foremost thought is how to have my central characters transform because of the action and thrilling plot-points that structure my book. A story with a great character but a boring plot is no fun. And you can have the most exciting story in the world, but if readers don’t love your character, it’s an epic fail. The writer has to balance both.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the shadow-box theater look. It pops visually. It captures the fun adventures and moody world of the stories. And that claw reaching for the heroes on the LORD OF MONSTERS cover always gives me a chuckle.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?
LA BELLE SAUVAGE, the first book in Philip Pullman’s new Book of Dust trilogy which comes out in October. I’ve long been a rabid fan of His Dark Materials. I can’t to return to Lyra’s world. Man, I hope it doesn’t disappoint...
What was your favorite book in 2016?
Andrew S. Chilton’s THE GOBLIN PUZZLE (Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice). It has so many elements I love in a great middle-grade fantasy adventure: Heart-felt heroes, bizarre and hilarious secondary characters, a twisty plot, and some wildly inventive world-building. Read it. Read it now!
What’s up next for you?
I’ve had this huge creative bump in the past year. Go figure. I’ve finished two projects—one a middle-grade, the other a YA—that I’m in different stages of revising and having my agent shop to publishers. Sorry, I can share more details, but keep an eye out for announcements. They’re both super fun. Can’t wait for fans to read them!
Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Yes, many! Having spent my childhood in a rural part of the American South and having traveled all over the world, I’ve seen first-hand how important it is to help those struggling with poverty and hunger. So I’m a big supporter of both local and international causes in these areas. I even had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda several years ago with Heifer
International and wrote a picture book about what life is like for children and families in central Africa. There are so many ways all of us can help those in need across the world and in our own communities.
Meet John Clause Bemis!
John Claude Bemis is an award-winning author, musician, and educator. His novels include The Wooden Prince and Lord of Monsters, the first two books in the Out of Abaton series (Disney- Hyperion) and the Clockwork Dark trilogy (Random House), among others. John was chosen as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature. He lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, NC. Visit him online at johnclaudebemis.com.
Perfect for fans of the Disney Pinocchio movie that are looking for something familiar but entirely new, OUT OF ABATON: LORD OF MONSTERS (On Sale June 6, 2017) reimagines and builds on the classic fairy tale, and can be read as a standalone from the first book in this series, The Wooden Prince. With magical world-building, alternating points-of-view chapters from Pinocchio and Princess Lazuli, and an utterly enchanting story, LORD OF MONSTERS is a must-read for fans of fractured fairy-tales.
Pinocchio can’t believe the Moonlit Court is his home. With royal banquets, a regal wardrobe, and a whole new set of rules, Pinocchio has a lot to adjust to in his new life as prester alongside Princess Lazuli. But before they can get comfortable in their thrones, a dinner at the palace is interrupted by an unwelcome guest—a monster. And this isn’t just any monster; it’s a manticore, a beast that was imprisoned centuries earlier. Desperate to locate the prison and make sure none of its other monsters were able to escape, Lazuli, Pinocchio, and their Celestial Brigade set out to save Abaton from these ancient beings. Their journey requires intelligence, strength, and a dash of the magic. But when Pinocchio tries to use his powers, they have an unintended effect: he is turning back into a wooden automa. And if he’s not careful, he may lose his human form forever.
Lord of Monsters
By: John Clause Bemis
Release Date: June 6, 2017