Interview with author Charles Gilman

I had the chance to interview the author of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and here is the interview in all its glory:

1: Your books have such a unique storyline. How did you come up with it?


Thanks! The storyline actually grew out of the covers. I’d read that lenticular printing had become really sophisticated, that they could depict these sorts of ‘morphing animations’ with 12 or 16 frames of art, and so I decided I wanted to work on a series of books with spooky lenticular covers.  I’d envisioned a sort of ‘haunted library’ of different books.  Each one would show a adult or student who morphed into a creature when you walked past.  So I knew that physical transformation would be a major theme in the stories, and that led me to focus on adolescence, middle school, and (though it’s rarely mentioned in the stories) puberty.  I also knew that I would need a wide range of monsters, and that led me to incorporate all of the Lovecraftian elements.

2. What was your favourite book as a child? Were you into science fiction like the books you’ve written?
I was a big reader.  One of my favourite series was Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.  This was a sort of Hardy Boys knockoff, in which Alfred Hitchcock would task his three young teenage friends into investigating all kinds of supernatural mysteries.  They were beautifully designed books with spooky illustrations and very well-plotted stories.  In truth, of course, Hitchcock had nothing to do with the books; they were conceived and written by an editor named Robert Arthur.  So I named my protagonist Robert Arthur in his honour.
3. If you didn’t work in publishing and writing, what would you do?
I’d be in trouble.  I started making and selling my own comic books at age 8 and I’ve been doing variations on that job ever since.  
4. Is there anything that you don’t enjoy about writing?

  I find the early stages pretty tough.  I’m terrible at outlining — I tend to discover the story while writing it, which means I have to explore a lot of dead ends & write a lot of wasted pages.  It’s very frustrating; it’s not a very efficient way to work.  But it seems like I’m stuck with it!

5. Finally, are there any pieces of advice that you would give to aspiring writers?
  Practice, practice, practice.  I keep a quote on my door: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson.  I think that pretty much says it all!
Charles’ new book, Teacher’s Pest, is out now and will be reviewed shortly.




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