Today I have the pleasure to welcome C.J. Skuse author of the Young Adult novel “Monster” which you have probably seen featured on CHOUETT very recently as part of a blog tour. To find out more about myself and other bloggers had to see about it, please click here.
C.J. has kindly given me a little bit of her time so I could ask her a few questions, an here they are.
Who is your favourite literary monster and why?
Probably ‘the creature’ in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He’s very misunderstood and much-maligned following all the Hollywood treatment. If you go back and look at Shelley’s original text, he’s a much more complex character with a very good reason (I think) to behave in the ways that he does. It’s all down to bad parenting.
During the writing process of “Monster” did you know who the killer was going to be from the beginning?
I thought I did, then it changed. I wrote it again, but it changed again. This happened four times until I finally knew who the real killer was supposed to be. Quite frustrating but ultimately, I think, it works better because I didn’t know. It was the same with my new novel, The Deviants actually. It begins with a body lying washed up on a beach. I had no idea who that was until I got to the final chapter.
Which character did you have the most fun writing?
Maggie, for sure. She’s just another Paisley from Pretty Bad Things really. Funny, whip-smart, unafraid to say exactly what she thinks but ultimately, very afraid of her uncertain future. I love the freedom of writing characters like her because they have no filter and you don’t meet many people like that in real life. Unless they have Tourette’s or something.
Who did you find more challenging to write and why?
I found Dianna quite difficult to write because she’s the exact type of person I don’t get along with in real life: weak-willed and constantly parasiting themselves onto other peoples’ endeavours instead of creating her own. I just didn’t like her so I didn’t like writing about her.
Your novel explores the idea that one has to unleash a monster to fight another. Why was it important for you share this concept with the reader?
I think in films and books and on TV we’re introduced a lot to the benevolent hero, the person who comes in and deals with the terrible situation in the ‘right way’ (e.g. calling the police etc) instead of sinking to the antagonist’s level and doing what their gut instinct tells them to do, which is much more interesting. I just wanted to do something a bit different in Monster – I wanted the hero to not only sink to that level but to sink lower. With the nature of the monsters on our streets these days, I think sometimes you have to ‘go there.’ The law will only help you so far.
Where do you feel more comfortable? In front of a class lecturing, or at your desk writing stories?
In a perfect world, I’d write full time, but I do love my lecturing as well, meeting fellow storytellers, sharing tips, advising them on how not to make the mistakes I did. I feel respected at Bath Spa Uni and it’s a very supportive atmosphere there. It’s nice to get away from the desk every now and again and meet some actual people.
Are you likely to have a go at appearing on Masterchef one day? What is your best dish?
Nah. I’ve been told I do make an awesome Victoria sponge though so maybe The Bake Off? I’m pretty old school – I don’t put beetroot or aniseed or unleaded petrol in my cakes. I just like a cake to be a cake.
Can you share with us one of your best moments?
I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question. I don’t recall having any best moments, at least not as an adult.
Can you tell us “10 things” we don’t know about C.J Skuse?
I can’t eat bruised fruit, nor anything that comes through the post; I can’t abide sandals, orange sweets or any movie which has too much of one colour in it; I once vomited all over the school lunch table and almost in my instructor’s face following a skydive; I’m obsessed with serial killers and Sylvanian Families and have met my idol, Chewbacca but he freaked me out. Will that do?
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Absolutely anything that doesn’t involve words.
Thank you C.J.
You can find C.J. Skuse on Twitter @