Stopping by The Ball this week is the frightfully talented Hillary Monahan, debut author of the scary YA novel MARY: THE SUMMONING. The book explores the urban myth of Bloody Mary, making her less myth and more vengeful specter. As I’m a full blown coward when it comes to horror of any kind (I was particularly scarred by the Bloody Mary story in fourth grade and removed all mirrors from my bedroom for years), I found a brave volunteer to read it for me. I have it on the very highest authority you should not read this book at night, especially if you’re alone. With spine-tingling precision, Hillary’s book will scare the pants off you.
Enjoy Hillary’s answers to our Deb Interview.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
My favorite book of all time was, is, will probably always be LONESOME DOVE by McMurtry. It is the quintessential character book and—despite being in a genre I generally don’t read—inspired me to write. The descriptions and dialogue are so on point and perfect, if you saw one of the cast walking down the street, you would know right away, “That is Gus. That is Woodrow. That is Jake.” McMurtry paints word pictures like no one else.
The road to publication is twisty at best–tell us about some of your twists.
I had quite the ride. I finished the first draft of MARY in November of 2010. It was called THE LEGACY at that point because it was a historical. The book was told from the perspective of a modern aged girl “experiencing” Bloody Mary’s terrible life. It went on sub to a dozen editors and . . . got one pass. No one else said a word. Standardly editors will give the NO to get the work off their desks so they can move onto other projects. Radio silence was odd.
Fast forward to April of 2011—thirteen or so months after it first went out. One publishing house asked me to modernize the story. They loved the concept, the writing, and the monster, they simply wanted it to take place now, not back in Mary Worth’s day. My agent asked the sitting houses if they would be interested in seeing a rewrite, too. Seven said yes.
To make a long story short, after one rewrite and sixteen months, MARY went to multi-house auction and landed its home in October of 2012.
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
A coroner. I was absolutely obsessed with forensic science and thought I wanted to do profiling or criminology to track down real world Hannibal Lecters. Unsurprising that I’m a horror author now, really.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I’m terrified of snakes. I lived on a farm when I was a kid and I swear we were an episode of “When Nature Attacks” waiting to happen. We got all sorts of weird wildlife coming our way. Snapping turtles that’d migrate between the two streams of the property and get stuck in our driveway, snakes, skunks, woodchucks. One day, my mother sent me out to mow the side lawn. I was notoriously lousy about going outside; I always had an excuse as to why I needed to be in my room instead of in the yard. “There are bugs.” “The grass is too green.” “There’s wind.” When I went back into the house to report that there was A HUGE SNAKE ON THE SIDE LAWN AND I COULDN’T MOW, my mother assumed I was faking to get out of the chore.
“Get a stick, put the snake on a stick, and fling it into the cornfield.” As my mother has pretty much perfected Mommy Murder Face, I did as I was told. The biggest stick I could find was a foot long. The snake was a veritable anaconda. Bad combination.
To this day, my mother apologizes to me for the experience of Young Hillary lugging Snakezilla across the yard on a toothpick. Then she laughs at me.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never give up. Perseverance is key, as is thick skin and the ability to take criticism. You get a lot of NO in the publishing industry, but the eventual YES makes that mountain of rejection unimportant. Keep going, keep informed, keep your attitude in check. It’s a hard business but the payoff can be incredible.
Thank you, Hillary, for joining us today on the Deb Ball!
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, November 14 to enter to win a copy of MARY: THE SUMMONING (North America only, please). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Hillary Monahan also writes as Eva Darrows. Holed up in Massachusetts with three smelly basset hounds, she writes funny, creepy things for fun and profit. Follow Hillary on Twitter and find her book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.
Latest posts by Amy Reichert (see all)
- Farewell, Dear Reader - Tuesday, September 1, 2015
- Five Reasons You Need to Read COME AWAY WITH ME Now! - Tuesday, August 25, 2015
- Break Out the Good Stuff — Again with Sonja Yoerg + Giveaway of MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE - Saturday, August 22, 2015
- Seven Awesome Things About Being a Debut Author - Tuesday, August 18, 2015
- CONFESSIONS with Vicki Lesage + Book Giveaway - Saturday, August 15, 2015