The DMS was lucky enough to interview Derek the Ghost, author of the middle grade novel Scary School. Brocket the Rocket recently reviewed this haunting story, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Derek!
What inspired you to write 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!
How long did it take you to write Scary School?
It usually takes me about a month to write a first draft and then, of course, there is many months of editing.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
Louise Sachar's WAYSIDE SCHOOL series was probably my biggest influence. I also loved Dr. Dolittle, the Roald Dahl books, and everything by Dr. Seuss.
Where did you come up with the characters Derek the Ghost and Principal Headcrusher?
Derek the Ghost is just the 11-year-old dead version of me, so that was pretty easy. I wanted the narrator to be the same age as the characters so that I would be able to accurately capture the middle-grade voice. Principal Headcrusher... hmmm... I guess I just tried to think of what would be the scariest name possible for a principal, and then the character formed from there. Or maybe I have a deep-seeded memory of the headcrusher sketch from Kids in the Hall and it came out in this weird way.
If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
Petunia because it's very hard for her to make friends due to the bees swarming around her all the time. I'm very allergic to bee stings, so I would have to be careful though.
Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music while you are writing?
I usually wrote at my home. I don't listen to music when I write. I want as few distractions as possible.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
Pittsburgh. Why? Why NOT??
What is your favorite monster or scary creature?
I like zombies because they are fervently focused on what they want out of life. Brains. That singular determination makes their psychology extremely simple, and yet each moment of their existence is infused with purpose and meaning that I envy. Also they are gross.
Where can we purchase your books?
Any bookstore or online bookseller should have them, but I suggest going through my website. I hope they will all check out. You can tour the school. Meet the students and faculty. And there's also lots of fun easter eggs. If you beat the video game on the website, you will win the weirdest trophy ever. And after you finish Book One, you'll have to go back to the website in order to unlock the secret last chapter that will lead you straight into Book 2!
In the Scary Store section of the website, you can purchase Scary School as well as some of my other books and also get some really cool Scary School merchandise!
✭ Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an e-book copy of Scary School! Open to US and International
Giveaway ends Sunday, December 9th!
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