TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery!
Charles: Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Charles: I know I share this quirk with a lot of other writers: All of my best ideas occur in the shower! I’m constantly running out of the bathroom and looking for a pencil and paper.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers?
Charles: Gosh, I like so many writers, but I guess I should use this opportunity to spotlight someone readers have never heard of. Back in the 1960s, a guy named Robert Arthur began writing a series of children’s novels called Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. The premise of the series (I realize this is going to sound crazy) is that the famous film director had three teenage friends who investigated all kinds of supernatural happenings in their neighborhood. The books had wonderfully spooky covers and terrific titles (The Secret of Terror Castle, The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints). I loved all these books when I was a kid, and I wanted Tales of Lovecraft Middle School to “read” and look and feel similar. It only seemed appropriate to name the hero of my series after Robert Arthur, though to date I’m not sure any readers have actually connected the dots.
TQ: Which is your favorite story by H.P. Lovecraft?
Charles: I love “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and I think so many contemporary horror stories (literature AND film AND TV) all owe a huge debt to it.
TQ: What inspired you to write the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series?
Charles: This series has a very unusual origin story; all of the editorial content grew out of the design, out of the package and print production of the series. I was really trying to launch a series of middle grade books that would feature different transformations (using lenticular photography) on the covers. Originally, I wanted to show a boy turning into a werewolf. There have been some tremendous advancements in lenticulars in recent years — I knew we could have a cover with 12 or 16 separate frames of animation, enough to create a really cool morphing effect. But as I looked into the idea further, the project began to evolve. I knew we would want to show lots of different monsters across a series of several books — that led me away from werewolves to Lovecraft (or rather a world very loosely inspired by the Lovecraft mythos). I knew we would want to show physical transformations — that led me to adolescence and middle school as a subject matter and setting.
TQ: What sort of research have you done for the series? What's the oddest bit of information you've found.
Charles: I research the strangest things. I read a lot about snakes before writing “The Slither Sisters,” though I’m not sure how much of my research actually made its way into the book. Still, it’s a lot easier to write about something when you feel like you have at least a rudimentary grasp of it. Right now, I’m writing Book 4, which involves a giant snowstorm, and just this morning I was reading about back-up generators and what kinds of power supply systems might be in a real public school.
TQ: What's next?
Charles: Book 3 in the series, Teacher’s Pest, arrives in May 2013; I’m currently finishing Book 4, Substitute Creature, which will pub in September 2013. And if readers insist on more, there will certainly be more!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Charles: Thank you!
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School
The Slither Sisters
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School 2
Quirk Books, January 15, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 160 pages
This second novel in the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series begins right where Professor Gargoyle ended. Seventh-grader Robert Arthur has discovered that two of his classmates are actually sinister snake-women in disguise. Even worse, his new middle school is full of “gates” to a terrifying alternate dimension – a haunted mansion full of strange spirits and monstrous beasts. For Robert to protect his teachers and classmates, he'll need to return to this haunted dimension with his best friends Glenn and Karina. Can they uncover the secrets of Lovecraft Middle School before it's too late?
The Slither Sisters features more bizarre beasts, more strange mysteries, and more adventure. It's perfect for readers ages 10 and up. Best of all, the cover features a state-of-the-art “morphing” photo portrait – so you can personally witness the sisters transforming into their slithering alter egos. You won't believe your eyes!
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School 1
Quirk Books, September 25, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 160 pages
Strange things are happening at Lovecraft Middle School. Rats are leaping from lockers. Students are disappearing. The school library is a labyrinth of secret corridors. And the science teacher is acting very peculiar – in fact, he just might be a monster-in-disguise. Twelve-year-old Robert Arthur knew that seventh grade was going to be weird, but this is ridiculous!
Professor Gargoyle (Volume I in the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series) is full of bizarre beasts, strange mysteries, and nonstop adventure. It's perfect for readers ages 10 and up. Best of all, the cover features a state-of-the-art “morphing” photo portrait – so you can personally witness the professor transforming into a monster. You won't believe your eyes!
Coming in May:
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School 3
Quirk Books, May 7, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages
DON'T BE FOOLED by his friendly smile, his perfect manners, or his shiny red apple. Student council president Howard Mergler is actually a sinister bug-monster in disguise—and he's summoning swarms of roaches, wasps, fleas, and head lice into the corridors of Lovecraft Middle School! Twelve-year-old Robert Arthur is the only student who can stop him--but he'll need help from his best friends: the school bully, the school ghost, and an extremely courageous two-headed rat.
This third novel in the Lovecraft Middle School series begins right where Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters ended—with more action, more adventure, and more outrageous monsters!
Head to the Lovecraft Middle School website for more information about the novels, games, and more.