20 Scary Questions with Monster author C.J. Skuse
1. If you were in a horror movie and something big bad and nasty was chasing after you, what would your tactics be?
Stand very still and close my eyes and hope it can’t see me.
2. Was your school anything like the spooky and remote Bathory School in Monster?
Yes, I pretty much based the interiors on my old school which now sadly no longer exists. Hang on, I hated it. Scrub out sadly. I’m glad they tore that sucker down. It was haunted and damp and stank of sadness.
3. What's your favourite scary movie, Sydney?
First of all, don’t call me Sydney. Second of all – I have five favourites. Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder version), Carry On Screaming, Dog Soldiers, The Descent and House of Wax (the remake). I love any movie where Paris Hilton gets a pole through her skull.
4. Who's your favourite fictional villain and why?
The Joker. He’s just so cool. I wanted Heath Ledger’s Joker to beat the crap out of Bale’s Batman, just for the hell of it. Just once, I wanted the Joker to win. I always wanted the coyote to catch that damn roadrunner too but that never happened either. *shrugs* #That’sLife
5. What’s the scariest thing you've ever done?
All three rides on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas in 2007. How I came away from any of them with dry pants is unbelievable. My knuckles were properly white. I wasn’t that scared when I did a sky dive.
6. Would you rather lick jam off a panther’s paw or jump into a shark
tank wrapped in raw bacon?
I think I’d stand more chance with the jammy panther. If he’s just kinda lying in the sun, all drowsy, and the jam’s just there on its paw, I could creep over and start licking and then go all still when it opened its eyes. No way a shark’s not going to notice a huge lump of raw meat dropped into its tank.
7. Do you find clowns scary or funny?
I find clowns, I kill them, simple as that. You’ve got to get them before they get you. No good has ever come from something with eyebrows that high up on its face.
8. Who is your favourite Ghostbuster and do you approve of the new all-action female version of Ghostbusters?
I loved Peter Venkman as a child though I didn’t get a lot of his jokes. I admit I was wary of a female Ghostbuster movie when I first heard about it, having been such an early fan of the all-male versions. I just thought why bother? Then I saw the still they released of the women in their uniforms and OMG do they look fantastic. If the script is right, I think it’s going to be brilliant.
9. Would you rather be trapped in a very haunted old mental asylum or an abandoned theme park with a deranged killer on the loose?
I’ll take the mental asylum. Like a good Ghostbusters fan, I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts and I don’t believe ghosts can harm you anyway, whereas a deranged killer probably has a very real weapon and I can’t run very fast.
10. What were the best and worst parts about writing Monster?
Best part of writing anything is ALWAYS finishing it (for me anyway). Worst part about writing it was doing three different drafts before I realised who the ‘monster’ of the story actually was. Rewriting the same book from a slightly different angle three times over is a pain in the proverbial.
11. What in life are you most afraid of?
Running out of chocolate.
12. What in horror stories most scares you?
Things that hover just off the ground. Anything that hovers gives me the willies. The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer do this and I find them hands-down terrifying.
13. Where did the ideas come from for Monster?
I saw a newspaper article about The Beast of Bodmin Moor and I started wanting to write an underdog horror story about a group of people who have to defend themselves from it. I’ve had the urge to write a story set in a boarding school since my first novel Pretty Bad Things was released in 2010 and I thought the beast idea could lend itself well to a remote boarding school setting. Et voila.
14. If you could kill off any character from another book, who would you choose and how would they die?
Well he dies anyway but George Harvey from The Lovely Bones needs to die in a more satisfying and prolonged-pain kinda way. I was very disappointed with his quick demise.
15. If you could reanimate any character who dies from any other book, who would you choose and how would you bring them back?
Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games. I’d just give him the kiss of life for a very very long time.
16. Who would win in a fight, Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula or Mr
Well Dracula’s a wuss who has to go sleepy night-nights during the day and has tiny teeth so that rules him out. Mr Hyde could probably give Frankie a good old bruising before he turned back into old scaredy-cat Jekyll so I think Mary Shelley’s boy could take all three to be honest. He’s a lot cleverer than the movie versions of him would suggest.
17. Scariest thing you ever saw on TV as a kid?
Killer Bob from Twin Peaks, hands down. In fact, just Twin Peaks in general. Nothing before or since has burrowed into my psyche and scared the crap out of me as much as that programme.
18. Who would play your six schoolgirls – Nash, Maggie, Dianna, Regan, Clarice and Tabby – in a film version of Monster?
I have absolutely no idea. Nash was loosely based on a younger version of Mia Wasikowska and Charlie was based on the actor Freddie Stroma but as long as all their ages and physical features are right and they can act scared, I don’t really have any other preferences. The beast is based on a jaglion – a hybrid of a jaguar and a lion but I imagine that would be CGI’d to hell anyway so no sense auditioning them.
19. Tell me a secret about Monster that only you know...
The characters’ names are all horror-movie related in some way. Their surnames are all those of dead rock stars. Just for the hell of it.
20. And finally, plug the book...